Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Counting Down to Christmas ~ Advent Calendar

One of our Christmas traditions is doing an advent calendar for the kids. Years ago, when the kids were still small I read about advent calendars and thought, "That is such a neat way to count down to the special day."

Our first year, I got 25 envelopes and wrote numbers 1 through 25. I stuck them onto the pantry door so they would form the shape of a Christmas tree after I filled them with some notes and candies. When I introduced the calendar and how it is suppose to work to the kids the next morning, they were so excited! Every morning, they couldn't wait to open the envelop to see what's inside. I can still remember their reactions and happy faces...

A few years later, the envelopes were replaced with a wooden advent calendar with tiny doors. This year I bought a new one because one of the doors was broken. Instead of doors, this one has deep drawers and I think I like this one better. Rachel couldn't wait for me to fill up the calendar for this year and she volunteered to write all the dates on the drawers.

I feel like it was so much easier and cheaper to please them when they were little. They would get excited about pretty much anything.

I will give you some of the things I used to put in to the calendar:

Mini candy cane
Chocolate coin
small toys from the dollar store

or papers saying things like:

Family movie night
Family game night
Going through the drive through and get donuts, ice cream and such
Going to the dollar theater

A couple years ago, I decided to do things a little differently since my kids are getting older. We had a discussion about the true meaning of Christmas and it is important to be giving rather than just focusing on receiving. They had the look on their faces like, "Where is she going with this?..." and I didn't feel much excitement from them. I explained that there will still be same type of small gifts, or notes with family activities, BUT, I will be putting in some notes with "giving" types of activities and assignments.

I think they weren't so sure about this, but they went along with it. Well, what other choice did they have?? I am the mom, and I am the one who fills up the calendar... muhahahaha

So, here are the examples of some of the notes:

Do something nice to your siblings without them knowing
Open the door for someone when we go out
Say something nice to 5 people today
Shovel the neighbor's driveway secretly

Then this year, I was looking at a box of candy canes and got new idea. I wrote on the note:

Be a ninja. Give candy canes to 4 people (I divided the dozen candy canes amongst my three kids) without getting caught.

I also told them a couple rules: first, they are not allowed to open someones bags to put it in. The people might think they are trying to steal something, that is the last thing you want! Second, they have to tell me who they gave it to and how when they get home. If they were able to witness the recipient's reaction, that would be better.

The kids were giddy about the new assigment and went to school.

The results? It was awesome. Even better than I expected!

I got to hear their stories of who they gave it to and how. The kids were talking and listening to each other's stories and we laughed about their experiences. Sounds like it is very difficult to be sneaky while giving something to someone! Three out of three kids said it was a lot of fun and they loved the assignment.

I think it comes natural to some to be generous and giving. To some, this needs to be taught.

As a mom, I want to make sure that my kids know giving brings joy. Whether tangible items, service or even a kind smile and kind words. Is there a better way to count down to the special day to celebrate the birth of our Savior?

There are 18 more days to go and I know there are more "giving" notes in the calendar. The thing is that I can't remember which drawer I put it in, so every morning it will be equally surprising and exciting for me as it is to my kids! Hahaha :)


  1. Such a good way to count down to Christmas...thank you for sharing and teaching your children the real meaning of Christmas!


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