Fill your Advent with activities

advent 04

Last year we decided to follow Stephanie’s lead and come up with 24 short and simple activities for the family to take part in each evening during the Advent – from the first of December through to Christmas Eve. While I have to admit there were some evenings when the activities fell by the wayside, it was mostly a great success and something AJ has been looking forward to doing it again all year, so I am guessing it has now become a family tradition. The key to this is keeping the activities simple otherwise it can be quite demanding to find the time to do them every day. Some of ours included “Make hot chocolate with all the fixings” and “Give everyone crazy hairstyles”… all very manageable.

You will need:
24 activity ideas appropriate for the interests and the ages of your family members.
24 boxes, envelopes, socks, packages etc. to put them in.
Your calendar or diary or a notepad.

Write a list of your ideas and then pick your 24 favourites. Check your calendar for December and work out how each of the activities will fit in with your schedule. Plan the more complex activities for weekend afternoons or other big blocks of time and save the simple ones for evenings when you guess you might be exhausted. Keep an extra special family activity for Christmas Eve.

I put our advent calendar together in a hurry. In the end I simply folded 24 pieces of origami paper into envelopes with the activity written inside, sealed it with a sticker with the number scribbled on in biro:

advent 01

and then put them all in a box which sat at our bedside for AJ to open each morning.

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Not terribly glamorous but it did the trick and each envelope was opened with great excitement.

Here is another idea which I scanned in from an old Notebook magazine – this is originally what I wanted to do but we didn’t have enough old matchboxes lying around.

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Rosa’s beautiful wall hanging is also a wonderful way of holding all the activities.

After writing up all the cards, I kept a list of all the activities and the corresponding dates so I could prepare ahead for each evening. Sometimes that meant something as simple as booking a table at a cheap sushi restaurant, and other times it meant getting together craft supplies, or recipe ingredients and so on.

And what kind of activities do we recommend?

Here are ours from last year (Some you will see we gleaned from Stephanie and her readers which are all definitely worth checking out):

1. Paint everyone’s toenails
2. Have hot chocolate with all the fixings (we might do milkshakes if it’s too hot)
3. Star gazing
4. Give everyone crazy hairstyles
5. Backyard cricket
6. Go out for sushi
7. Have an indoor picnic
8. Write letters to Father Christmas
9. Use puppets to tell bedtime story
10. Have breakfast for dinner (I am thinking pancakes)
11. Make decorations for the tree
12. Have a camp out around the christmas tree
13. Pack a picnic dinner and have it at a park (or Botanical Gardens)
14. Fancy dress for dinner time
15. Wrap a toy and take it to a charity christmas tree
16. Make handmade gift tags for relatives
17. Fish and Chips for dinner down at the beach
18. Fold origami for the christmas tree
19. Dance like crazy to music
20. Watch a christmas movie with popcorn
21. Go out for gelati
22. Take Grandparents out to see the Christmas lights
23. Have a bubble bath
24. Special christmas Eve treat TBA

Some more ideas especially for Summery Advent folk are over at Mundane Superhero, and here are her Christmas ones from last year.

Have you any more?
It would be great to share them.

15 Responses to “Fill your Advent with activities”

  1. Meliss

    I love the little matchboxes! I’m almost done with the advent calendar for my niece & nephew. I followed the directions here. My goal was to spend no money in the construction of the calendar, and I succeeded (luckily, I had a large stash of paper, ribbon & stickers).

  2. allena

    that is an awesome idea. i love the oragami paper env’s! the match boxes are cute, i guess you’d have to buy the little boxes for caming or something dump out all the matches and then wrap the boxes or something similar.

    i love the 24 ideas. i would totally love to go to the beach but i live in PA and that’s way tooo cold. so my ideas are for the colder weather. and i have 2 girls ages 2 and 7. i have a few, i thought i would share. here we go… jump in.
    make your own flavor of Ice cream
    make snow men, one for each family member.
    make molassas candy on the snow.
    “paint your lawn” by using food coloring on the snow.
    go christmas caroling. (sp?) that can be done in any weather. though if it’s rainey maybe making a trip to a local retirement home would be excellent.
    or maybe go to a local animal shelter and volunteer to take some dogs walking. (kids like dogs sometimes)
    OMG i’m just popping with ideas i have to write these down. thanks for getting the creative juices going.

  3. Maya

    This is such a great idea! Though my little one is only a year old, I can’t wait to try this already!!! Thank you!

  4. Advent Activities at Littlemummy.Com

    […] This is a fun way to lead up to christmas, I also sense the opportunity to disguise some chores (if you can call them chores!) that need to be done before christmas (decorating, baking, wrapping, clearing out etc..) wrapped up in lots of fun, of course. […]

  5. Stephanie

    What’s funny is that I took my advent matchbox idea from that photograph you published! My daughter is already asking about when we’re starting this year and what all we’ll be doing.

    I can’t wait to pull out the matchboxes.

  6. bellablue

    This is PERFECT and just what I needed this year. I’m trying to avoid filling our Advent Stocking calendar with candy. I love the idea of activities instead of trinkets that will end up stepped on, lost or eaten by our puppy.

  7. WHEW! « ask the sky

    […] later tonight, i must get to work on decorating the house, and getting this prepared.  what did i do before kiddley?  seriously, if you have or know children, you simply must get over there.  really. Posted by askthesky Filed in musings, crafting, super fun for little one […]

  8. Jen

    I have only recently found your site…so many great ideas! I loved this idea as soon as I read about it, and wanted to share what I came up with (pictures are on our website). I’m not particularly crafty, so this was what I managed during a half-hour trip to Michael’s with a 2-year old in tow! I’m so pleased with the way it turned out and can’t wait to have fun with this all month. Thanks!

  9. Stephanie

    We’ve been using these calendars for about 4 years now. I made one for each of my boys and every morning when they wake up a Christmas elf has filled the box with a small treat of some kind – anything from a couple of colorful rubber bands (what to a wrapped peppermint or even a coin. Nothing to elaborate, but always a fun surprise.

  10. Annie

    Fantastic! I love Christmas and am always looking for ways to help prepare my children for it. This looks like the perfect solution. Thank you for posting this!

  11. Lyndon Sayers

    I love your enthusiasm, but it is a pity that none of the suggested ideas for counting down the days in Advent actually have anything to do with the celebration of Advent – waiting for the coming of Christ. The making and lighting of an Advent wreath in your home (one candle for each of the four Sundays in Advent) is one possibility.

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