November 29, 2013

Counting The Days--Celebrating Advent

Thursday on Great Day Green Country, I shared several ways to help kids count down to Christmas while not driving their parents totally wacko before the big day. Oh, you'll still go wacko, but not totally wacko.

Christmas Books. When The Daughters were younger, I would wrap each book and we'd open it and read it that night before going to bed. Because we designate each day with their initial, that person got to unwrap the book. Once I realized that I didn't have infinite time to wrap books nor did I have infinite resources to purchase wrapping paper for twenty-four books, We just left them unwrapped. The Daughters are now nine (practically ten, if you ask her) and twelve and we still read a Christmas book a night.

Tip: If you don't have twenty-four Christmas books, be sure to check out your local library. You could also form a co-op with a group of mommy friends. 

Advent Jar. I made filled jars with twenty-four pieces of candy each and gave a jar to each of The Daughters as well as our three nieces. Each day, they'll get one piece of candy. When the jar is empty, then it's time for Santa to come. After Christmas, the nieces (and The Daughters) can return the jar to me, and I'll refill it the next year. A way to add some meaning (even though eating candy is pretty darn meaningful in my life) would be to add a sticker on the pieces of candy with an activity to do. You don't have to put an activity on every piece of candy, but one it would be a cool addition about half the time. Some activities include: Watch The Polar Express, call your favorite aunt and sing your favorite Christmas carol, or make hot chocolate and deliver it to your local police station or fire station.

Tip: Buy extra chocolate so you don't have to sneak from the Christmas jar. It would stink to have to celebrate Christmas on December 19 because that Twix was calling your name when you were up wrapping presents. 

Lollipop Tree. This is very similar to the Advent jar, only you're using suckers and a styrofoam tree.  The lollipops will poke right into the styrofoam tree. Each day, the kid(s) get a sucker. When the tree is empty, it's Christmas! Again, you can put an activity on some of the lollipops to add meaning to the season.

Tip: Buy your lollipops on November 1 when the Halloween candy goes on sale, and reuse the tree. Momma is nothing if not cheap and easy.

Advent Wreath. The most wonderful time of the year is also the most busy time of the year. Between sports practices, concerts, recitals, family gatherings, work parties and everything else, many families don't get to have family time every night. The Advent wreath, while it's sacred in its history, can be used by any family to count down to Christmas. Designate a day a week for the four weeks leading to Christmas that you will meet as a family. Each week of Advent is designated as follows: 1) Hope; 2) Love; 3) Joy; and 4)Peace. To make your own Advent wreath, you'll need four candles, one for each week. Typically, the candles are purple except for Joy, which is pink. However, you can make them any color you wish. You'll also need one white candle for Christmas Eve. Each week, meet as a family and talk about your week as you light one, then two, then three candles, counting down to Christmas Eve when you light the white candle.

To make my advent wreath, I tinted canning jars and used my Nativity candle from Keepsake Candles. The "wreath" sits on our dining room table.

Tip: Let your kids help you make these jars--it's fun, easy and they'll end up making extra to give away as gifts. Again, cheap and easy!

How will you count down to Christmas?


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