One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was when mom would take out the beautiful, handmade advent calendar each year. The top had a big green felt tree on it with little garlands and the bottom had a pocket for each day. My sisters and I would take turns taking a teeny little ornament out each day and hanging (AKA pinning) it on the tree. She also kept a bowl of small chocolate Santas nearby and we were allowed one a day! This was a big deal!
So fast forward thirty-some-odd years and I am now in charge of my own little family’s advent calendar. Let’s just say my mom had the right idea with the whole decorating the tree thing! Ours sports a beautiful snowman with 25 little pockets all over him just begging to be filled. When I first got it I thought of putting on chocolate Santa in each pocket but some pockets are teeny and we also have a yellow lab that will eat anything that has touched food within the last 20 years or so.
So I immediately jumped on the web (this was pre-Pinterest!) and Googled “Advent Calendar Filler Ideas.” I was immediately inundated with tons of fabulous ideas from bloggers across the web. My list has evolved over the years but I thought I would share with you what I stuffed the old advent calendar with this year! Some days are experiences, some days are about giving to and thinking about others, and some are just good old-fashioned treats! (I keep a few extras on hand for anything that is weather permitting!)
Play pond hockey.
Make a popcorn and cranberry garland for the tree.
Build a HUGE snowman.
In honor of winter solstice (longest night of the year 12/21), dinner by candlelight and family sleepover!
Write your letter to Santa! Give it to Curtis (our elf) so he can deliver it.
Watch the Dreamworks Christmas mini movies on Netflix (Merry Madagascar is our fave).
Make “hot chocolate balls.”
Family sleepover in mama and papa’s room! Bring your sleeping bag!
Go get our tree. Hot chocolate while we decorate!
Jump in the car after dinner and go see Bright Nights.
Create your own LEGO Christmas tree ornament.
Make mini gingerbread houses out of graham crackers and icing.
Giving to others:
Skype Grammie and sing a Christmas carol (or two).
Make “melting snowman cookies” and deliver some to friends!
Sign and address Christmas cards for your teachers.
Shop online with mama for a present for your brother. ($25 limit)
Go shopping for the holiday gift basket project (for those in need) at school.
Go food shopping and help fill the food pantry box at church.
Skype your little cousins and read them a Christmas bedtime store.
Pick out a toy that you don’t play with anymore and give it to a friend or donate it!
Make a big batch of Buckeyes with Grammie.
Hot dogs and mozzarella sticks at the rink after practice. Christmas lights tour on the way home!
Pizza picnic in front of the fireplace.
Starbucks for an after-school treat!
Find Curtis (our elf). He has a little treat for you. (Small things like Christmas pencils, smelly erasers, stickers, light-up Rudolph nose, or hockey tape.)
Go tubing after we go snowboarding!
Enjoy 30 minutes of Xbox after your homework is done.
Movie night (on a school night)! Let’s watch “Christmas Vacation.”
Dinner at Red Robin with your cousins!
Does your family have an advent calendar? What do you fill yours with? Falalala! XO, ellie