Christmas is rapidly approaching, and for most of us, that means family, friends, and celebrations, all rolled into the busiest time of the year! We all have certain traditions that unfold in our homes every year. Those traditions are part of the many special moments that quintessentially define “home for the holidays.”
Sometimes, however, we may want to add to our family traditions, or perhaps we just want to make our existing celebrations more meaningful. I have always wanted to create a thoughtful, meaningful Advent calendar, but too often, the busy-ness of the season means our calendar becomes just another holiday decoration.
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The Advent calendar is a wonderful way to schedule in special moments with your family while focusing on what is really important about the Christmas season. While it is fun for the kids to count down the days until Santa comes, I think most of us want to instill in our children (and ourselves!) a deeper meaning of Christmas.
In years past, I’ve often thought of many wonderful ideas for the Advent Calendar…usually somewhere around mid-December. Oh, now that’s helpful. Let’s just get right on that, why don’t we?! The unfortunate reality has always been that by mid-December, it is way too late to plan anything new or add anything to the schedule! However, with a little planning, you can enjoy a season where you have time to prepare your heart to celebrate the birth of The Savior, serve others, and simply bask in the warmth and joy of family and friends.
Planning the Advent Calendar
Included in this post are ideas for serving others, for spending time together with friends and family, and for small gifts. I personally prefer to intersperse the gifts with activities and acts of service so that the emphasis is on giving rather than receiving. However, it is always fun to receive a little something once in while, especially for the kiddos, so slipping in a little goodie now and then is pretty sweet! Some of these activities require planning ahead, but that is the advantage of working on it now — when the time comes, you will have an organized list so you can be prepared! Note the ideas that especially appeal to you and your family, and perhaps add a few of your own. I have even created a free printable planner that you can download and print! Now how easy it that??Prepare your family for #Christmas with a meaningful #AdventCalendar + a free planner! Click To Tweet
Advent Calendar Ideas for Serving Others
- Take a gift basket to your local fire or police station. Include coffee; hot chocolate; homemade or store-bought treats such as cookies, cakes and candies; and most importantly, handwritten notes expressing your appreciation for their dedication to your community.
- Buy small, quiet gifts (cards, board games, coloring books and crayons, craft sets, small dolls or action figures, etc.) and deliver them to some of the children in a local hospital. Make sure to include special notes for each child, and perhaps one for their parents, too!
- Gather a group and go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood, at a senior center, fire or police station, or any other place where people would love a cheery pick-me-up!
- Bake and deliver a plate of Christmas goodies to your neighbors.
- Make a meal for someone who is struggling in some way this month. Better yet, invite them to your home for dinner!
- Have a plate of homemade cookies ready to hand to the mailman and the recycling and garbage collectors.
- Meet servicemen at the airport and either welcome them home or send them off! Unfortunately, homemade goodies may not be appropriate; we all know that there are security concerns for them, and as sad as it is, I am sure accepting homemade food from strangers in an airport is probably not wise. However, commercially packaged treats are fine (purchase a case of individually wrapped items from Sam’s or COSTCO). But the handwritten thank you card is what will mean the most, whether they are coming home or being sent out. Never, ever underestimate the power of a simple thank you and knowing that people really do care!
- Purchase the coffee or meal of the person in line behind you at the coffee shop or fast food restaurant.
- Many people, for any number of reasons, find it difficult to get to a store. Offer to take someone Christmas shopping, or if necessary, offer to be their personal shopper and just do it for them!
- Fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. Consider volunteering to help your local collection point transport the boxes when it is time to ship them to the distribution center!
- Volunteer to ring bells for the Salvation Army for a few hours one day, and don’t forget to smile and speak to everyone!
Advent Calendar Ideas for Friends and Family
- Host a cookie exchange.
- Build a fire in the fire pit outside and invite friends and family over for s’mores.
- Invite your neighbors over for a gourmet hot chocolate party.
- Attend a Christmas concert.
- Drive through a live Nativity scene.
- Find the best Christmas lights in town and drive through the neighborhood.
- Print out the entire Christmas Story from the Bible, and cut the verses into several short “chunks” of the story. Place each piece in one of the calendar openings to be read a little at a time, and memorize each verse. By the 25th, you will have the entire Christmas story memorized!
- Watch a short kids’ Christmas special on TV.
- Make a Christmas wreath, table centerpiece, or other DIY decoration.
- Learn to tie bows.
- Make a gingerbread house.
- Have a baking day (of course, you may need to include this one several times!).
- Watch a Christmas movie.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Small Gifts (check your local Dollar Store!)
- “Expandable” character motif wash cloth
- Small seasonal coloring book
- Small puzzles
- Stick-on window decorations
- Temporary tattoo stickers
- Holiday stickers
- Inexpensive earrings, especially the stick-on kind for small children
- Nail polish
- Matchbox or other toy cars
- Play Dough
- Silly Putty
- Chalk, crayons, or colored pencils
- Hair ties or barrettes
- Super hero figurines
- Cookie cutters (use these to make cookies the next day!)
Whew, that’s a whole lot of ideas! “Why Not?” make this the year of the truly meaningful Advent calendar tradition!
What really awesome things do you like to include in your Advent calendar? Please share your traditions with us in the comments!
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