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A handmade advent calendar

Monday, 26 November, 2012

When I think back to Christmas time in my childhood, one of the first memories that comes to mind is the morning ritual of opening the door on my advent calendar with my Mom. I looked forward to it every year, and it is a tradition I was excited to carry on with Charlie.

Last year we had a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer calendar, Charlie’s favorite Christmas cartoon. He loved it. As soon as he got out of bed he would rush over to it, eager to see which character would be behind the day’s door.

My crafty side took over this year, and I decided in October that I wanted to make our advent calendar. For as much as Charlie loved seeing a new picture every day, I knew he would love it even more if his daily surprise was something we could do together. At first I considered including small toys and treats with every day, but decided against it. Christmas is about so much more than receiving gifts, and I wanted to make sure the focus was on things we could do as a family.

It turned out to be quite easy to come up with 25 things for us to do. Some of them we would already be doing (like writing a letter to Santa and baking Christmas cookies), and others are good deeds he can do. And since we are flying to Arizona for Christmas to visit family, I made sure to include a few that would be easy to take along with us and do away from home.

Here’s my list of activities, in no particular order (except the last two):

1. Make Christmas cookies
2. Buy a toy for a child in need
3. Write Christmas cards to our friends and family
4. Make fancy hot chocolate
5. Watch a Christmas movie together
6. Write a letter to Santa
7. Turn on Christmas music and dance
8. Make Christmas ornaments for our tree
9. Make paper snowflakes and decorate our front window
10.Take a drive and look at Christmas lights
11. Make a Christmas card for a soldier
12. Snuggle up and read Christmas stories
13. Decorate our house for Christmas
14. Christmas party tonight!
15. Watch Christmas cartoons together
16. Make Santa bubble beards in the bath
17. Visit Santa at the mall
18. Family game night
19. Make Christmas treats for the birds and squirrels
20. Color Christmas pictures
21. Go Christmas shopping for Dad
22. Sing a Christmas song for Grandma and Grandpa
23. Buy food to donate to a food bank
24. Open one present after dinner
25. Open presents!

I hung Charlie’s handmade advent calendar above his bed. He’s old enough now that I don’t have to worry about him opening them before he’s supposed to. We are both so excited for Saturday – he can’t wait to open the first envelope!

Instructions for a homemade advent calendar

You’ll need:

Yarn, string, or ribbon
Envelopes (I got mine at Michaels)
Christmas stickers
Activity cards (make your own or download mine)
Fancy numbers (my numbers are here)
Glue stick

Cut out your numbers and activity cards.

Put your activity cards into the envelopes.

Glue the numbers onto the envelopes.

Place your stickers to seal up the envelopes. I did not seal mine any other way, just in case I need to open the envelopes and switch some of the activities around.

Pin up the yarn or ribbon, and hang your envelopes from it using the clothespins.

I am so, so happy with how Charlie’s advent calendar turned out. Christmas is a million times more fun with a child, and I am excited for all the good times the three of us are going to have in December.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    Monday, 26 November, 2012 9:10 am

    Oh I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are such a great mom!!! What a wonderful way for Charlie to learn what Christmas is all about. What a cool project! I am proud of you honey for many things and you understanding the time it takes to be a real parent could be at the top of my list. xoxoox

  2. Monday, 26 November, 2012 11:20 am

    That is so cool! What a wonderful idea and such a great activity for you and Charlie. He’s lucky to have you in his life. 🙂

  3. Monday, 26 November, 2012 1:37 pm

    That is really cute! I think Chris and I would have fun with this.

  4. Judi Koeller permalink
    Monday, 3 December, 2012 4:20 pm

    Great idea and it was great you shared such detailed instructions. I am so glad you got your parent’s creative genes!! Really a neat thing to do with Charlie!! Lucky boy!!

  5. Monday, 30 December, 2013 11:49 am

    Hey There Helloknitty,
    Along the same lines,, Growing up, every Christmas, my parent’s always had out a their beautiful wood Advent calender (handmade by my grandpa). I miss having one, it was always a part of Christmas. My fiancee had never even heard of one, and when I tried to find one the last 3 years for us to have in our house, they were all made of cardboard or particle board and were just cheap and tacky looking. We have one Christian store in town, and they don’t carry them because the owners really really dislike Catholics, and stores like Target don’t have nice anything Christmas besides ornaments and garland. Where can I find a nice one that will actually last for Christmases to come?

    I don’t shop online either. And my parents aren’t old enough yet that they don’t put up their decorations, so I can’t ask them for theirs, they’re still using it.

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