Like many of you I’m sure, I still can’t believe the holidays are already here! I wanted to share this great idea for a family holiday activity advent calendar. In the Christian faith, the advent season is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the arrival of Jesus. For those of us who do not practice a particular faith, we can still use this special time as a way to prepare for and savor the countdown to Christmas Day. There are a ton of ideas for family advent calendars online, but my favorites are the ones that include holiday experiences as a way to slow down and enjoy the season. As you can imagine, this idea can quickly spiral out of control, adding unnecessary stress to an already busy season. That is not the type of advent calendar I’m talking about. Read on to learn how you can start a simple holiday tradition that will help you create wonderful memories for your family each year.
Step One: Identify Your Activities
When you have about a half hour of uninterrupted time, find a cozy spot and grab a hot beverage and a notepad.
- Begin by listing all of the holiday activities and traditions you already do every year – such as finding a Christmas Tree, Decorating the Christmas Tree, visiting the grandparents, reading a holiday book, baking cookies.
- Then take a few minutes to write down any special outings you would like to do (e.g. breakfast with Santa, see the Nutcracker Ballet). At least to start with, I would include only a few of these special outings in your list, since they require extra planning and coordination. Make a note if these activities occur only on a certain date.
- Then list the numbers 1-24 on a piece of paper to correspond with the days leading up to Christmas and write the day of the week associated with those days this year. Then start assigning activities to the dates. This quick reference guide serves two purposes; It will help you plan appropriate activities for that day of the week (there’s no way I would be up for something crazier than listening to a Christmas album or drinking hot chocolate on the days I work) and also help you remember what activities were planned on a certain day in case you need to move stuff around.
- Then fill in the rest of the days with super simple activities. You could repeat certain activities to fill in more days (for example, include multiple holiday movie or book days). To help you get started, I created a printable holiday advent activity list and put it in our family fun library, just sign up below to get free access! There are over 25 super simple ideas for enjoying the season, such as listen to a Christmas album, or decorate holiday gift tags. There are prompts for a few crafts on there, but they use things you probably already have in your house or only require one additional easy to find supply. Finally, I also have included a page of blank labels for you to include your own ideas and for those special activities in your own town. Remember, the goal of this activity advent calendar is to help you slow down and enjoy the holiday magic that is already occurring around you – not feel pressure to create more of it.
Step Two: Pick Your Calendar (Buy or DIY)
There are tons of advent calendars that you can buy pre-made online and in stores. For a family holiday activity advent calendar, you just need to buy or make something with 24 spots that can fit a small slip of paper or a small phrase, and can be labeled with the the numbers 1 – 24.
Or keep it super simple and just place your activity ideas in a labeled jar. It would be so fun for everyone to be surprised each day. For this to work best, make sure the activities in the jar are really OK for any day of the week, and if you are going on a special holiday outing that day, just leave that one in the jar the night before so it’s sure to be chosen 🙂
And then, just do your best to relax and enjoy! Remain flexible and open. We had a six month old last year and I honestly can’t remember if we got through our entire calendar. But I do remember the night we went to Winter Reimagined at Tower Hill Botanic Garden and the afternoon we slow danced with the baby in the living room to the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas Album.
To see my two favorite sources for family holiday advent activity inspiration, visit Hither and Thither and Reading My Tea Leaves.
I also wanted to mention that I know many people have a rough time during the holiday season because they are struggling with the loss of a loved one, or are going through a difficult time. My friend Kendalyn of Sage and Sea Apothecary has an incredible series of resources and gifts for those looking for assistance with self-awareness and healing. She always has great videos and may post one specifically about experiencing difficulty and loss during the holidays so be sure to follow her or share her links with someone you know may be struggling.
I hope you all have a wonderful season!