Ah, Christmastime. If you’re a parent, you’re probably always looking for ways to make this season even more magical and special. In the past, our family has always done advent calendars. We began this tradition when Claire was two years old. I made an advent calendar to hang on the wall and each day had a Christmas activity and a Scripture to read.
Fast forward a few years to 2017. I hung up the advent calendar, but we rarely opened the envelopes. Last Christmas was a very stressful season for our family, so that was probably part of the issue, but I also think it was difficult to maintain a daily activity when we were also doing school each day. Some of the activities were simple and ones we were doing anyway (baking Christmas cookies, watching a Christmas movie, etc), but some required effort on my part to put together crafts and activities. It was time I didn’t really have.
This Christmas, we’re in a different home, with a completely different lifestyle and schedule. There’s no room to hang up the advent calendar this year and I remembered the overwhelmed feeling it gave me last year. So I decided to brainstorm and find a different way to make Christmas special this year. Here’s a few of the things we’re doing to make Christmas extra special this year.
Christmas Bucket List
Instead of planning out an activity for every single day, we made a list of things that we wanted to do to make the month of December special. Some of these are things that we don’t normally do, some of them are traditions we’ve done every year since we started our advent calendar. Here are a few that we’re doing this year:
- Watch Christmas movies (the ones we always watch are Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph and Muppet Christmas Carol)
- Go to Wild Lights at the St Louis Zoo
- Bake and decorate sugar cookies (Claire helps me with all the Christmas cookies, but these are the most fun, since we decorate them)
- Make Christmas pizzas (just regular homemade pizza, but we make them in the shape of a snowman and a candy cane)
- Read How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss and eat Grinch snacks (use a toothpick to skewer together a grape, strawberry and mini-marshmallow. It looks like the Grinch in his Santa hat!)
Christmas Books Every Day
Honestly, my plan was to wrap the Christmas books in wrapping paper and open a new one every single day, but almost all of the Christmas books we are reading are from the library. We live in a very small town, so many of the Christmas books we wanted are ones that needed to be ordered in. This means that there are a lot of different due dates, some that can be renewed, some that can’t, etc. It was a little hectic thinking about trying to keep track of books while I can’t see their covers. So, instead we are just reading at least one Christmas book each day. Almost all of the books we have checked out are new to us and we have some new favorites! I’ll be posting soon about our favorite Christmas books, so that way you can check them out too!
LEGO Advent Calendar
Yes, I know. I said I felt like I couldn’t keep up with an advent calendar. But I still felt like I wanted to do something fun with Claire each day. I purchased this year’s edition of the LEGO Friends Advent Calendar as an early Christmas present for Claire. Yes, it’s a daily “activity,” but it’s one that requires no preparation or effort from me. Many of the creations are things that Claire has been able to build on her own or with minimal assistance. She’s been enjoying it so much!
With a smaller space, I didn’t want to purchase an advent calendar that would be giving a toy or something like that each day. This way, it’s like an exciting little gift each day, but the LEGOs can be reused for other creations after Christmas.
The description for this year’s LEGO Friends advent calendar says it comes with minifigures and different things to build for a Christmas scene. However, they carried last year’s description over to this year. Instead, each day you build an ornament. I’ll admit I was disappointed, because it’s not what I thought I was getting. However, Claire loves it and some of the ornaments can still be used as things to go along with the LEGO Friends, so it’s worked out fine. I just figured I’d throw this in there, so you know what you’re getting if you decide to order it also.
Other Fun Things
Those are the main things we are doing regularly to make the Christmas season more special and memorable, but there are a few other things we’re doing also.
The church we’ve been attending recently sent us an advent devotional that we’ve been using during our family devotions time. It’s definitely geared toward adults, but we’ve still been enjoying it and had great discussions with Claire about it. It’s the The Christmas Code Booklet, in case you were wondering.
I’ve also been trying to be more intentional about handicrafts in our homeschool time. If you haven’t heard that term, handicrafts is more than just arts and crafts. It’s teaching your child to create something meaningful. It’s not decorating a paper plate, but teaching a skill. Some examples are watercolor painting, crocheting, and woodworking. Handicrafts are typically part of a Charlotte Mason style of education (you can read more about that here and here). Upon trying to find handicrafts that would work for us, I recently stumbled across Rooted Childhood. Rooted Childhood is all about connection with your children during each season. Meghann has seasonal collections and has three issues for each season (one for each month). Each issue includes seasonal poetry, songs, fingerplays, stories, handicraft projects and simple, healthy recipes to make together. We are currently using Rooted Childhood to make some Christmas gifts, as well as try some new recipes and enjoy wintery poetry and songs. You can learn more about Rooted Childhood here.
It’s interesting that while some traditions remain, often traditions change over time, depending on the age of your children or the season of life you’re currently in. What traditions are part of your Christmas celebration? Are you changing or adding anything this year? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!