Count Down to Christmas with an Advent Activities Calendar

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Two things I don’t love about this time of year: All the busy-ness. And all the candy.

We are a Catholic family, and my husband and I think it is important to participate in Advent activities with our kids to prepare our hearts and minds as well as our homes for the birth of Christ. But I am not a sweets person, and the idea of giving each kid an extra piece of chocolate every day of December makes me cringe and want to crawl into my Christmas stocking.

Secondly, Advent sometimes feels like a never-ending to-do list of shopping and wrapping, cooking and baking. The holiday activities that are meant to add joy to the season often lose their luster when squeezed in between school concerts and winter sports practices. That’s where our Advent activities calendar comes in to save the day.

About 10 years ago, I went on Pinterest and made an Advent calendar out of felt and hot glue. Instead of filling the squares with Reese’s peanut butter cups, however, each slot holds a ticket for one Christmas-related activity that we can do together as a family.

Start simple
When I tell friends about our Advent activities calendar, most of them roll their eyes. Because during the season of Elf on a Shelf, who wants to remember to do yet another activity? But the Advent activities don’t need to be complicated. For the four Sundays of December, our Advent activities include lighting the candle in the Advent wreath after church and reading from Scripture. That’s it. You can insert seasonal activities that you were going to do anyway, like setting up the Christmas tree, writing letters to Santa, or hanging lights outside.

All the traditions
I was surprised how quickly we filled the Advent activities calendar with Christmas-related tasks. We dedicate one night each to the girls’ school concerts, their Christmas piano recital, and bell-ringing for Salvation Army. (Remember that an un-manned kettle is an empty kettle!)

We also bake Christmas cookies and make those white chocolate pretzels in the shape of Christmas trees and bells. I also have the girls help me wrap gifts and address and stuff our Christmas cards. They’re helping with my list, but it’s fun because I turn on Christmas music and let them have a mug of hot chocolate.

Hello, Hallmark Channel
My mother-in-law introduced my teen to the Hallmark Christmas movies, and now she can’t get enough. Even though we try to limit screen time in our household, I usually let the restrictions slide this time of year, because the movies are sweet and usually have a good message. Other seasonal Advent activities that you’ll find us doing this time of year include:

  • Watching classic Christmas movies, such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman,” as well as modern classics like “Elf” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” (You serious, Clark?)
  • Setting up the Nativity set that my husband and I got as a wedding present
  • Hanging our stockings and reminiscing about our favorite gifts from Santa
  • Watching old Christmas morning videos from when the girls were babies
  • Making holiday crafts, creating paper chains, or decorating homemade Christmas cards
  • Driving around town to look at the Christmas lights.

If this all sounds like far too much work, I’m not here to judge. We as moms also deserve an opportunity to relax this time of year so that we don’t unknowingly dive in and ruin the holidays.

Also, I just noticed that Aldi’s has reintroduced its wine calendar for 2019. You are welcome.

What Advent activities get you into the spirit of the season? Please comment below!