Sunday, December 9, 2018

Books & crafts Advent calendar: 24 days of reading & art

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Candles are traditional, and chocolate is fun, but snuggling and spending time together is the perfect way to count down the days till Christmas.

Consider wrapping a series of winter or holiday books and craft projects, then having your child open one a day until the big day arrives. You'll get to enjoy a cuddly reading time or an interactive project opportunity together.

You can adapt this for Hanukkah by wrapping eight themed books, or as a countdown to Solstice or another celebration your family keeps.

You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to, so it's a frugal option to keep the spending and clutter down as well. I store our Christmas-themed books with our holiday decorations so that I can find them each year and keep them off the shelves when they're less relevant.

I'd seen this idea before of doing a solely book-themed countdown, but with our small space, we don't actually own 24 Christmas books. This year, though, I got the idea to sprinkle in other items:

  • Library books — I wrapped mine in a specific wrapping paper so I can find them if they come due before they're opened! Your book selection doesn't have to be specifically holiday-themed. Winter books are a great option (here is a list of winter-book ideas!) as well as books about kindness, generosity, and family togetherness.
  • Holiday crafts — Grandma sent us a big box of craftiness, so we're all set for this. If you have some craft kits around, use those. If you don't want to buy some, you could check out Pinterest for some easy holiday craft ideas and wrap the supplies (or a few particular ones) needed for that day.
  • Christmas stickers or stamps — This is just general, but I wrapped up some holiday stickers to get the kids creating artwork we can send to family and friends as Christmas cards. In the same way, you could offer clay, paints, markers, or the like.
  • Science projects — We had a little kit from a previous year for making instant snow, so we're reusing it. You could also make holiday slime.
  • Christmas movies
  • — Cuddle on the couch with a holiday DVD and some popcorn.
  • Activity and coloring books — These are a staple of dollar bins, so I had a few Christmassy ones on hand that hadn't gotten much use. They don't have to be specifically holiday-themed, though.
  • Christmas sheet music — Do your own caroling at home. If you play an instrument, you can accompany the merriment. If not, just print out the words for everyone.
  • Gift-making supplies — Put that kid energy to use and make some gifts together. Wrap the supplies you need to make child-manageable gifts for neighbors and loved ones such as mason jar cocoa mixes or simple sewing projects.

My point is not to worry about this countdown calendar being exactly perfect: Just use what you've got, and go from there. I did make sure to give my kids a heads-up ahead of time that these weren't new gifts, just fun surprises to do together all month long.

If you don't want to wrap the gifts, that's fine, too, or you could go reusable by repurposing gift bags, play silks, and fabric scraps. I obviously didn't, because I was lazy and the wrapping paper was nearby, but there you go.

If you want your gifts opened in a certain order, you can arrange them like so or number them. Otherwise, let your kiddos pick at random and see what comes out each day.

Leave your ideas for fun Advent calendars in the comments! You can also check out my post on how we do an Activity-a-Day Advent Calendar, which is a lot of fun every year.

Check out Truth in the Tinsel if you're interested in a faith-based ebook Advent calendar!



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