Thursday, December 1, 2011

An Advent Activity

This year we're leaving town for the holidays to spend Christmas with family in another state. So we aren't putting up a tree and there won't be narcissus blooming throughout the house. Gifts will be hard to pack, so each item must be considered before it is wrapped as to whether or not it should go in the car (although we have already downsized considerably in that department). It would be easy to have a bah-humbug spirit about the holidays given our travel arrangements!

I decided a little creativity could make this Christmas a year to remember long into the future. Since I had been wanting to do a simple Advent activity for a couple of years, now seemed the right time to make it happen.

 First I needed to make an Advent chain with envelopes. In keeping with my decision to maintain a simple Christmas, I used some paper envelopes, a few stamps, some jute I had on hand, and clothespins from the laundry room.

I found the envelopes in the gift wrapping section of Michael's Craft Stores. Exactly 25 in the package! Did someone plan that?

Using store coupons, I saved 50% on a simple Christmas tree stamp and a set of numbers (which can be used for many projects as well as for future Advent activities should these need replacing!).

Another coupon saved me half on these two stamp pads. I think I would use a darker green next time, but I wanted a sage green and not seeing what I wanted, I tried the Verde Moss Green. The Cranberry was perfect though.

Next, on my computer I printed up some slips of paper with little messages on them. My ideas included some of the girls gifts to open early, such as a pair of Christmas pajamas, some lip balm that I usually put in their stockings, and a Christmas CD for the trip in the car. But I also included lots of activities, such as baking North Pole Cupcakes before we leave, watching a Christmas movie together and making popcorn, and riding in the car with a thermos of hot chocolate to see Christmas lights.

I also added some free events I found in our area... our community Christmas parade and Handel's Messiah performed by the Community Orchestra and Choir.

To keep it looking festive around the house, I added a garland on the staircase with a jute laundry line and pinned the envelopes to the line. When we get ready to leave on our trip, I'll just untie the line and take the remaining envelopes with us. Perhaps we'll hang it inside the car!

It's not too late to start your own Advent activity. Make it with whatever you have around the house and start with simple items that can be done on the spur of the moment. You can slip papers in the remaining envelopes or bags as you think of them. The kids will never know!

Update: don't forget to keep a calendar list someplace with every day's advent activity written on it so you know what's coming up and you can be ready!

Here's a list of suggestions to get you started...

• Christmas pajamas
• Christmas CD
• Lip Balm
• Christmas book to read
• Christmas earrings or other inexpensive jewelry (for girls)
• Drive around and look at Christmas lights
• Watch a Christmas movie (you could repeat this with different movies)
Ring the bell for the Salvation Army
• Pack a box in advance for next  year's Operation Christmas Child
• Bake cookies
• Bake North Pole cup cakes
• Starbucks gift card for $5
• Christmas book on CD or mp3 download (such as Little Women)
Scrabble Holiday Game (or another fun game)
• Go ice skating
• Go sledding
• Bake something for the neighbors or elderly and deliver it
• Decorate the car
• Decorate the tree
• Decorate their bedroom
• Decorate the chicken coop or barn
• Put up lights on the house together
• Make S'mores gifts for their friends
• Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in front of the fire with cookies and milk
• Sew a Christmas pillow case together
• Make a paper chain or popcorn chain for the tree and listen to Christmas music (and sing loud!)
• Turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree and sleep on the floor by it one night

Okay, that ought to get you started, but I want to hear your ideas! What will you add to the list?


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