I want to add a new tradition in our house this year that our children will look forward to each year. For that reason, I've made an advent calendar, and I have planned something for us to do together each day in December.
It still needs numbers, but for now it is up! I was inspired to start this one two years ago based on this one. I didn't have the fabric I wanted, but I did have a little bit of brown toile (the same one I used for Ivory's pajamas). I had some red fabric from some old sheets that my parents had given to me for the fabric. I didn't have any burlap, but then I got a burlap potato sack and I had planned on using it. I read a great tutorial on washing burlap, but the sack really shrunk. I asked some questions about purchasing burlap on the blog and the writer was so sweet; she sent me an old piece that she had that had some glue spots on it. I was able to work around it and use it to make this.
The inspiration piece isn't a complete tutorial, so if you want to make something similar, I would check out this tutorial.
Since I don't own number stamps, so I'm thinking of embroidering some numbers on them in red for next year. It would have been easier to do that before construction (but I didn't think of it until afterwards!), but I can probably make it happen anyway.
I am planning on reading a stack of Christmas stories to the children, making several crafts, and spending more than one day making cookies. We'll make several fun treats to have as our afternoon snacks. The activities (for the most part) are planned for late afternoon, as it is getting dark.
If you don't have any Christmas books, don't despair! Check out your local library for some. Our library always has seasonal books out on display by the entry.
Two of the stories that I will be sharing with my children you can read/see online; they are "We Came For Our Gifts" (scroll down the page for this one and have a handkerchief ready) and "The Coat" which has been made into a wonderful short online video for children (both are true stories).
Some of the other books from which we'll be reading:
For crafts, we will be making paper snowflakes, paper Christmas trees, sewn stars (we'll do these by hand) and a few projects using felt. You can see the crafts we want to make on my Pinterest board.
A few days, we'll work on making sibling gifts. My children love to make presents for each other.
We'll make some fun themed breakfasts, treats, and dinners together. Some of them I'll make to surprise them. Then they can enjoy the treats while we read Christmas stories. The snacks are mixed with the crafts on the same Pinterest board.
We'll start a few Pandora Christmas stations (they have all different choices for "types" Christmas music on there!) to listen to on the days when we're doing a craft and not reading a story. We've been enjoying one entitled "Classical Christmas Radio".
Here are our activities:
1. Watch a Christmas movie and have popcorn
2. Make a Christmas craft and read a Christmas story
3. Paint snowflake resist paintings
4. Make a Christmas craft and eat Christmas cookies (I'll make these ones early in the day)
5. Drink hot chocolate while mom reads a Christmas story
6. Make paper trees and make a Christmas tree pizza
7. Make sibling gifts
8. Watch the First Presidency Christmas devotional on December 8th (a live feed will be available in 16 languages, including Portuguese, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin).
9. Read Snowflake Bentley, check out Russian photographer Alexy Kljatov's snowflake photographs, and cut out paper snowflakes.
10. Make more paper trees and Christmas lollipops
11. Make Christmas tree paintings while mom reads a Christmas story
12. Make gingerbread cookies
13. Make snowman pancakes for breakfast, snowman hot chocolate for snacks, make some snowman art, and make a snowman pizza for dinner
14. Make sibling gifts
15. Watch a video about Christ's birth
16. Put up the Christmas tree. Ours will go out later in the month because we have a 1 1/2-year-old again. We put ours on a table (the stand is screwed to the table) but unlike her 6 older siblings, this child gets a stool when she wants something!
17. Make Christmas crafts
18. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story
19. Make cookies
20. Make Christmas crafts and listen to a Christmas story
21. Make Christmas crafts and finish sibling gifts.
22. Enjoy some Christmas cheese balls, crackers cut with Christmas cookie cutters, and olive penguins
23. Make rosemary olive oil bread. Wrap it up with rosemary and tags and deliver it to friends.
24. Read Luke 2
I made free printable cards that you can download and fit into a homemade advent calendar. They're small enough to work in all different sized advent calendars. I included several other activities that will work for some of you in colder climates (where you have real snowflakes, and not just paper ones, like we do) as well as some that won't matter what climate you are in (for my readers on the other half of the globe who experience Christmas in summer). I also have duplicates of some things, because you might want to do some things more than once (such as a craft or a story). You can print them all and use whichever ones work for you. (If you live in the Southern hemisphere, I would love to hear what activities you plan for the month of December!)