Saturday, November 29, 2008

Advent Madness

Last year we added a gift every Sunday night of Advent as we continued with our other Advent traditions. I got this idea from Linda. We loved it. The gifts were mostly things I would have bought anyway - but they were saved for these special nights....calendars, family game, t-shirts...

For years I've seen some do "Advent Calendars". Last year we tried the play mobile one and it didn't work for us.... We are not fond of cheap candy (can't do the flavors, dyes and preservatives) but I remembered that Kathy does this with small gifts....and I saw those cute calendars at Target...you know THAT story. Becki suggested some ideas in the comment section of that entry. Becki, the idea to put clues in the little boxes and still use ONE calendar for ALL the children makes this doable for us.

I have gone online and searched "Advent Calendars" - DON'T DO IT!!!! ::snort:: I quickly realized the need for extreme caught to avoid the extras adding up to a budget busting holiday. I went to Rainbow Resource and bought a few things I've been planning to get for school. The kids will like them and I'll give them on some day from the calendar box. Mike is teasing that I should plan a full blown scavenger hunt each day of the month. ::snort::

Another idea that I found in my searching is to make an Advent ACTIVITY calendar. We'll make one today. I've not decided if we'll use my stash of TP tubes...or scrapbook paper. I'm leaning to paper as we may YET make that Greek Temple and need the TP tubes. ANYWAY, the idea is that you jot down a family activity for each day of the month. I love this idea....and would probably have not bought the present calendar if I'd done the google search first. This is a post with a ton of Advent Calendar ideas that I found on Kathy's aforementioned blog. This post on Paper Envelopes made me think I could really do this in a day. I'm going to merge several ideas.....Now, go ahead and do that google search if you must, but I DID warn you. ::snort::

Here's what I need from YOU!!!! I*D*E*A*S* please. December 1st will be here in no time.

What are some fun gifts for Advent Calendars that your children have particularly loved? I'm going to have the little things from Rainbow, I know candy one day, hot chocolate, coins, coupons for future outing with Mom and/or Dad....more ideas?

Here is my STARTING list of Activities for the Advent Activity Calendar. Can you think of more? PLEASE COMMENT! ::snort:: I need these to make my Activity Calendar.


  1. Take a toy to Toy for Tots

  2. Walk to visit the deer

  3. Go star gazing

  4. Decorate an outside tree for animals - read book by Eve or Eva Hunt

  5. Indoor picnic by the light of tree

  6. Dance like Crazy to Christmas music (yeah - we're not Baptist ::snort::)

  7. Make ice cream Sundaes (but we sort of do this weekly anyway)

  8. Picnic at the Lake

  9. Play tickle little kids, mom photographs

  10. Take older ones to see Concho lights

  11. Go for a neighborhood walk at night and enjoy the lights

  12. Make paper snowflakes and decorate the house.

  13. Family game night (plan several)

  14. Candlelit bubble bath (I can dream)

  15. Paint our toes (boys say NO WAY)

  16. Bake Christmas goodies

  17. Bake Christmas goodies again and take to neighbors

PLEASE COMMENT!
©2008 D.R.G.

15 comments:

becky.onelittle said...

Aren't you going to go Christmas carolling? You could do it at the nursing home or in the neighborhood- or through the barracks ;O)
What about a video scavanger hunt? We're doing an advent devotion book and a wreath and a jesse tree and jotham's journey and the online study this year (all for the first time) and I'm feeling way overwhelmed- but you take the cake!

Cynthia said...

FUN LIST! We always do the LEGO advent calendar with the boys. They LOVE it. This year Emily and I are doing an Advent Photoalbum/journal which I'll post about on Monday when we make it! We're going to make all of the pages ahead of time and then photograph (and hopefully blog) and journal what we did that day, any memories of special Christmas traditions, etc.

Renee said...

For years each child has had a chocolate Advent calendar... but the commissary had NONE when I went to the store on Monday.... and out in town they cost multiple $$ a piece.... so we will be skipping it this year :( But I know our Jesse tree will keep us busy each day as well as Holy Heroes Advent activities

Renee said...

might be able to find ideas here:

http://www.holyheroes.com/default.asp

Stephanie said...

I'm making little pyramid boxes to stack in a basket with one piece of acceptable candy and an activity, and I think some days I'll put in a recipe. I think that I might put directions for crafts in some of them. I'm making them up today. If I have a spark of amazing ideas I'll comment here. lol I might avoid bringing out our boxes upon boxes of ornaments and make simple ones this year. One a day I'm thinking... so I might put ideas for that in too. We're trying to have a lot of fun this season since the fall has been so icky with C's health. I love Cynthia's idea about the scrapbook/journal! I think I might have to borrow that. :) Now, between that, the Jesse tree we usually do (simple paper on the door in the living room), and now my great idea about ornaments, who knows what will actually get done.

Oh - and I think your dh and my dh have a lot in common... Marc wanted me to make a treasure hunt out of it each day so that she'd have to use the GPS to find them. I told him if he had enough time to put it all together I'd gladly help him hide everything. It hasn't happened yet. lol

Stephanie said...

Oh! Every year we make popcorn and cranberry garland for the tree. What about stringing popcorn one night? It could be done alone or combined with a family movie night.

Since you have writers, what about writing a family holiday story? Make it round robin where each person has to stop mid-sentence so the next can pick it up. It can be recorded or you could have a scribe if someone writes fast enough!

Kathy in WA said...

De'Etta - can I just say I am thrilled to see you are working on this. I love seeing how other families make the holidays special. As always, you are a shining example of fun and Christ centered focus. Thank you!!

Okay, let me see if I understand what you are doing this season.

1) Advent Activity Calendar - is this for the whole family or just the little ones? Is it an actual calendar you will write or or is this what the envelopes will be for? (Just checked the blog you posted, I see. The envelopes look adorable! Wish I had old match boxes to use too).

2) Advent Weekly - weekly gifts for the whole family or individual members?

3) Daily gifts?

I wasn't sure if you're doing weekly (bigger) gifts or daily ones.

Here are some additional ideas (forgive me if some are repeats):

A. Making Christmas cards - this could be fun for the kids to do in order to give some to THEIR friends, not just family friends.

B. Gifts - stocking type things, tooth paste, floss, action figures, coupons for downloaded songs via Itunes or Amazon, McDonald's gift coupons (my problem is sometimes I use up all my stocking ideas on Advent - no one seems to complain but I do have to watch my budget), book marks, soda (their OWN can which is special in our family).

I've also done things like taken a big set of Polly Pockets or Littlest Pet Shop and then given one item (a doll one day and a little tiny pair of shoes or shirt the next) in their calendar each day. This helps to save costs and mimics the Lego or Playmobil calendars where the kids only get a tiny piece here and there to make a whole scene.

C. Holiday Quiz - there are tons of Christmas games and quizzes out there. It would be fun to do one of those.

D. Holiday Memories - this could be a fun tradition to start. Gather a list of questions (What is your earliest Christmas memory? How many different places have you celebrated Christmas? Where? What would you like to do differently this year? What tradition will you continue with your family? ETC), then type it up with some fun clip art, print out on nice paper and be sure to SAVE them each year.

E. Christmas Skit - video the family (or just kids) acting out a scene from their favorite Christmas book or movie. This could be hilarious!

G. Prayer - there are all sorts of activities that you could do regarding prayer.

- Thanksgiving and Prayer: pick one person from the family, everyone goes around and says something they are thankful for about that person and then at the end Dad or Mom prays a blessing for that person.

- Christmas Prayer Advent Paper Chain: write the names of friends and family members on individual pieces of red and green paper, string together as a big paper chain. Each morning or night, tear of a slip of paper and pray for that person. We've done this before and it's a GREAT visible way to count down the holidays AND sneak in some prayer.

- Missionaries, food and prayer: pick a missionary, spend some time focusing on their mission, country and traditions. Prepare a dish from their country and then pray for them. Send them a Christmas card.

Okay, this is WAY too long. I'm sure you'll figure it out. Thanks again for stirring up my creative juices. I need to get working myself. :)

Michelle said...

De'Etta, is there a special Christmas light display or Living Nativity in your area? If so, incorporate that into your Advent. Our local mall has a HUGE sand castle built inside every year. These are the same guys who do it at the Pearl Ridge Mall in Hawai'i so it's a great tradition in our family. What about a Christmas concert or musical or put on your own? (I know you're already going participating in the Nutcracker).

The kids donate their unwanted toys to a local halfway house for moms recently out of prison. Most of them can't afford to buy Christmas presents for their children. We've also made Christmas and Easter baskets for them.

Volunteer at a local soup kitchen one day for lunch.

Adopt a grandparent--our children have adopted grandparents at several duty assignments. Set up a date for lunch, cookie baking or learning a new craft/hobby.

Debbie said...

You are doing great this year with your plans.

Tell Mike we actually did a daily scavenger hunt one year. We bought the Play Mobil nativity set and each day we hid a piece in the house and wrote out clues...they even rhymed! Brian and I are still amazed about that year. It was fun for the kids but exhausting for mom and dad trying to come up with clever clues.

We have also done the activity calender. That was fun, but with Brian's crazy schedule we kept having to change things. You have a great list and here are some things we've done...make cookies, make cards, drive to the Christmas light display in the city, watch a special movie, special shopping trip with mom or dad, go see the Nutcraker, wrap presents with dad, fun Christmas craft, make dog treats, set up Advent wreath and candles, put out nativity sets, go to get Christmas tree, decorate tree, put up outside lights and decorations, caroling at Papa and Noona's church, bake something special and bring to daddy's coworkers, make bird treats for outdoor birds, have a game night (or Sunday afternoon) with fun snacks and Christmas music, have afternoon tea, look at old pictures or videos of past Christmases (a big favorite).

I know there were others...I'll have to ask Bessie, she'll remember more.

Can't wait to see your completed list.

De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Hmmmm....so many of the suggestions are things we do and I just didn't think of the as an "advent activity". LOL

Thanks all for the pointers.

Yes, Kathy...we do family type advent gifts on Sunday. We also have a countdown candle, Jessee Tree, adornaments, advent study, Jotham or such.....the activities will be extra this year.....

OH - and Cindy we usually have the kids keep a journal each day - but I'm giving them a break this year. They loved that. Though I never scrapped it. LOL

Great ideas - keep them coming, they are helping to jog my mind.

Shushan said...

You've already got a great list but I didn't see Gingerbread kits.

You are more ambitious than I am for the holidays. I thought we did good with those daily advent thoughts from online and opening the Mozart kugeln calendar each day. Ever had one of those? Some are wonderful, some are weird imho - which just adds to the fun. lol

http://www.mozartchocolate.net/

Molly said...

These ideas sound great! I will definitely plan to incorporate the Sunday night gift idea, that will be something special to add to our Advent tradition!

I also love the idea of having special activities that you do daily during the season, especially the free ideas! I'd like to find a way to include that, too. We usually do a lot of these things, but I think having a plan and writing the ideas down and assigning them a date will make it all the more exciting and special for the kids.

We already do a LOT for Advent devotions...a Jesse Tree, an Advent Wreath, a few different Advent calendars, special Advent books, sing Christmas songs nightly...we try to make this a spiritually and emotionally rich time for the whole family.

If you are interested, I have links on my blogs about what we do and the resources we use...

http://counterculturalschool.blogspot.com/search?q=advent
and
http://www.counterculturalmom.blogspot.com/search?q=advent

will take you to all the posts...there is also a podcast in the right sidebar of both blogs titled "Preparing Hearts for Christmas", which is about what we do for family worship during the Advent season.

Blessings, and thanks for a wonderful post!!
Molly@Counter-Cultural Mom

Berry Patch said...

I have nothing to add. I just wanted to thank you for asking! I made up an advent "calendar" last year. I bought it from a scrapbooking company & it's 25 little boxes. I put those together & just put chocolate in it. This year I'm going to go through & add in the ideas people are sharing! LOL The boys will get a piece of chocolate & then there will be a piece of paper with an activity on it. I'm jumping feet first in to "Christmas School" this year & SO enjoying it!!!

De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Susan - GINGERBREAD! I plan to do that and could easily include it - thanks. Never heard of the mozart thing you mentioned.....I'll have to look into it NEXT year. My advent cup runneth over.

De'Etta @ Choosing Joy said...

Lisa - let's hold hands..ready????....::swining arms::: one....two...three...jump!

Molly - we do the very things you mention - I wonder if I'm crazy to add this...I'm cutting out Jessee tree this year...we do so many other devotionals and have done JT for many years that I think it will be o.k. We'll still do adorenaments....and others....