If there is one thing my entire family loves, it’s Christmas. The candlelight church services, the Christmas lights & decorations, the beautiful freshly cut pine trees, the hot drinks, the thoughtful gifts, the goofy nostalgic movies, the holiday foods, and of course, the quality time with our loved ones….It is such a special time!
For the last few years, I have been wanting to start a family tradition that my mom used to do with my siblings and I when we were kids: a Christmas advent calendar! But I wanted to wait until my boys, Ezekiel (age 4) and Finnley (age 3), were old enough to actually understand and take part in this fun tradition. Well, this year was the year I finally got to put my plan into action! Starting in November, I researched what other people had done and carefully gathered ideas to plan out the list of activities for our family to do together each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. We’ve been going strong for the last thirteen days now, and I thought it would be fun to share exactly what we are doing for our advent calendar this month!
Day 1: Open A Gift and Take a Photo: Matching Family PJs
I found our matching PJs at Target! They had great options for families and even had matching pajamas for our dog, Scoobie!
Day 2: Family Movie Night: Let’s Watch “The Grinch”
This movie is one of my kids all time favorites! They always want to watch it multiples times during the Christmas season.
Day 3: Christmas Lights Parade!
Our town has an amazing Christmas parade every year and the kids LOVE going. We always bundle up in Christmas sweaters & Christmas hats to make it extra festive!
Day 4: A Special Christmas Themed Breakfast: Snowman Pancakes!
There are tons of cute Christmas breakfast ideas online! My kids love having festive breakfasts this time of year, and its a fun switch up from their normal Mikey Mouse pancakes!
Day 5: Build and Decorate Gingerbread Houses
I bought gingerbread house kits from Target this year! Ezekiel did the treehouse kit and Finnley did the Farm kit!
Day 6: Read “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey”
This book is one of my favorites. It’s not a classic book, but the story is. It is about a widowed woodworker who’s lonely and sad life is changed one day when a widowed mother and her son show up at his doorstep and commission him to carve a nativity set for them for Christmas.
Day 7: Let’s Go Through Our Toys and Donate Some To A Charity!
Christmas time is about GIVING! I wanted to be sure to include a few days that showed my children just how fun it is to help out others in various ways. This was a simple way they could give what they have to someone else, and it also helped clear out some room in their toy chest for the new influx of toys that Christmas morning brings.
Day 8: Open a Gift (A New Nutcracker for Each Of The Kids) and Go Watch the Live Performance of “The Nutcracker” (or “Barbie in the Nutcracker” Movie)
This day was one of their favorites so far! My husband and I picked out new nutcrackers for each of our kids from Home Depot, and although we wanted to go see the live performance, we didn’t get tickets in time and ended up just watching the Barbie Nutcracker movie with our kids while they held onto their new prized possession. My older son, Ezekiel, loved his new nutcracker so much, he even brought it to school for show-and-tell.
Day 9: Family Movie Night: “Charlie Brown Christmas”
A Family-Friendly Christmas Classic! This is always a fun one to watch together, young & old! We also passed out egg nog and popcorn during the movie! For some reason, I couldn’t find this movie on any streaming service, so I bought the Peanuts Holiday Collection DVD set!
Day 10: Today, Pick Someone To Do Something Nice For!
This is another kid friendly way to get into the spirit of giving! Have each child choose a person and then think of something nice they can do for that person. It can be as simple as writing an encouraging note to a friend or family member.
Day 11: Let’s Open A Gift (Christmas Mugs) and Make Hot Chocolate
This year I bought each kiddo a Christmas mug and a hot chocolate bomb from Target. They loved their small gifts and watching the hot chocolate bombs melt into their mugs!
Day 12: Read “A Nest For The Savior”
This is one of my favorite Christmas books for small children!
Day 13: Let’s Make Handmade Ornaments!
There are so many possibilities for this day! Salt-dough ornaments, ornament kits (like these from Target), orange garlands, ect.
Day 14: Time To Paint New Little Houses For Our Christmas Village!
Last year, I found porcelain little village houses for my boys to paint in the Target dollar spot. They ad so much fun with it and were so excited when we pulled their houses from last year out of the Christmas decorations box and placed it up on the shelf this year. So I decided to keep adding to the collection and found some wood little houses for them to paint this year.I am planning tp keep this tradition going through the years and slowly build up our Christmas village.
Day 15: Family Movie Night: “The Nativity Story”
This is such a great film to visually see and reflect on the reason for the season, Jesus’ Birth!
Day 16: Make Christmas Cards and Buy A Gift For Our Teachers!
Another Giving Day! Fun fact: I used to be an English teacher! I was always so appreciative when students would bring me a card and/or small gift. It really is an easy and encouraging gesture to do for the individual(s) that invest so much in teaching your child(ren).
Some favorite teacher gift ideas:
-Handmade Gifts From My Students
-Live Plants (for their home or their classroom)
-Handwritten Thank You Notes
Day 17: Family Movie Night: “Frosty The Snowman”
Another Christmas Classic! I love watching this movie with my kids because it reminds me of my childhood so much! This year, we are going to build a fort to watch it in!
Day 18: Read “The Animals’ Christmas Eve”
Another great read that reflects on the reason for the season but from a new, fun perspective: the animals’!
Day 19: Lets Make Snowflakes and Marshmallow Snowmen!
Christmas crafts are always a hit! Last year, we made SOOO many snowflakes and hung then up on all of our windows. This year, I decided to try a new craft in addition to the snowflakes: marshmallow snowmen! Just look how cute these little guys are!
Day 20: Go Christmas Caroling Around The Neighborhood!
This is even more fun if you dress up and get a group of friends and family to go caroling with! Don’t forget to have a list of a few songs that you all know well enough to sing together!
Day 21: A Special Christmas Themed Breakfast: Reindeer Pancakes and Fruit-Kabob “Candy Canes”
Another online breakfast idea! I haven’t tried this one out yet, but the photos are so cute and I can’t wait to see my kids reactions to having a fun reindeer pancake breakfast!
Day 22: Drive Around And Look At The Christmas Lights
Do you have a neighborhood in your town that goes all out on the Christmas light displays! This is the day to pack up the family and go check out all the beautiful lights!
Day 23: Bake & Decorate Christmas Cookies. Give Some Away!
Gingerbread, sugar cookies, snicker-doodles, chocolate chip cookies…..there are so many options to choose from! And if you want the easy route, there is always the pre-made cookie dough option!
Day 24: Christmas Eve Service and Read: “The Night Before Christmas”
Every year, our church has a candlelight Christmas Eve Service. The kids dress up and act out the nativity scene, we all sing Christmas carols together, and we read through the nativity story. It is a special time that sets the mood for Christmas Day. After the service, we go home, open one gift each, and read “The Night Before Christmas.” Then it’s off to bed for the kiddos , while my husband and I spend the evening together and make sure everything is ready for Christmas morning!
Day 25: It’s Christmas Day! Time To Open Our Presents!
It’s time to open all the gifts! I usually bake cinnamon rolls and have hot chocolate and/or apple cider on the stove for breakfast.
I have swapped a few days around this month depending on how the day was going, but overall, I am very happy with how our first year doing a Christmas Advent Calendar is going so far! My kids are loving each activity and eagerly await the evenings when my husband gets home from work so that they can reach into the little pocket and find out what we will be doing that day.
In addition to doing our Christmas activities advent calendar every evening, we are also reading a page out of our advent book, “The Advent Storybook: 25 Bible Stories Showing Why Jesus Came” by Lara Richie. It has been a great way to reflect on the true reason for the season and has given us lots of opportunities to talk to our kids about Jesus.
I am so excited to keep this tradition going through the years and make this season extra magical for my kids.
I would absolutely love to hear in the comments down below if your family has ever done or if you are currently doing an advent calendar this year and what activities you are loving so far! It’s never to early to start gathering ideas for next year 😉
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