I love holidays! But they sometimes sneak up on me and then zip by so quickly that I forget half of what I wanted to do. Christmas Advent Calendars are so helpful in that they at least keep you mindful of the passing of days. I’ve bought the little sweet cardboard ones with chocolates behind each dated door, and we even had one Advent book that had a short story each day leading up to the birth of Jesus (sadly we lost one of the little books). I truly enjoy this kind of intentionality. That is why I decided to make a permanent place in my home for just such a tool. I call it my Perpetual Advent Calendar. Here you can see it in the background of our cookie-making day a couple years ago.
It is a beautiful frame (bought at a garage sale) with a burlap covered foam board attached.
There are little hooks that can hold ornaments that represent the days leading up to any holiday of the year.
I started with 25 hooks because it was going to just be for Christmas, but then I couldn’t bring myself to take it down. Valentine’s Day only required 14 of the hooks, St. Patrick’s Day used 17, and most of the others still were fewer than 25. That is until I got to October, which needed 31 hooks! If I’d thought about it beforehand I would have used 31 hooks, but the problem was easily solved by using sewing pins. (If you choose to make a Perpetual Advent Calendar, just use 31 hooks at the beginning.)
As for Christmas, what I did was get 25 beautiful clear ornaments from Hobby Lobby, some pretty ribbon, a couple sheets of printer paper, and my planning calendar.
I listed all the things I wanted to be sure to do with my kids during the holiday… you know, make cookies, watch It’s a Wonderful life, play games, etc.
Then I cut the paper into strips and wrote the numbers 1-25 on each of them. After that I began to plug in the things I had scheduled on the appropriate date. Once those were full, I just plugged in little things from going for a walk or doing a craft. Then each day we take off an ornament, open it up and read the strip of paper. Then the kids get to have something to look forward to doing each day, making sure we celebrate every moment. You can then put the ornament on the tree or leave it there with the strip of paper out.
Save the strips and place them in an envelope with the year written on it so that you can take it out later and see all that you did. It helps with ideas for next year too.
After Christmas is over, you can use the calendar to count down to birthdays, or other special days with whatever you can think of to represent that day (balloons, little gift bags, leaves, party themed ornaments, etc.) Let me know what you come up with, I’d love to see it.
This is a little peak at what Halloween looked like. Fun, huh?
Now back to Chrismas!
Here are some ideas to put on your strips of paper inside the ornaments:
- bake cookies
- take cookies to neighbors
- do something nice for a stranger
- go ice skating
- get santa photos
- make christmas cards for teachers
- go for a hike
- build a gingerbread house
- make a christmas craft
- make a christmas painting for the wall
- send a funny christmas email
- go caroling
- make dinner for a family friend
- invite friends over for games
- family game night
- read the Christmas story from the Bible
- pray and sing Christmas songs as a family
- make family handprints
- make a Christmas ornament
- make dinner together
- have a Christmas tea party
- decorate your car
- make Christmas waffles
- invite a friend over for crafts
- go sledding
- wear a funny Christmas sweater
- make marmalade for next year
- make a Christmas pavlova
- watch a Christmas movie
- read children’s Christmas books to each other
- paint Christmas nails
- make wassail
- make a pomander
- call someone you haven’t in a while
- make a Christmas Facebook post
- serve at a charity
- buy a gift for a needy child
- visit the nursing home
- buy someone’s coffee
- take cookies to the fire station or police station or post office
- make a manger and place it in your yard
- make a nativity set out of play dough
- sleep in the living room
- sleep outside in a tent
- roast marshmallows outside