Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Advent Calender

      I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEE the Holidays! I love the smells, the food, the guests, the made for TV cheesy movies that my hubby laughs at me for...I love it all! I especially love that for the first time all year the whole world seems to be in sync with teaching my child about selflessness and giving and love for others. I love that there is an entire season that is dedicated to my Savior and the songs that everyone plays on the radio are about family and love and togetherness.
   The one issue I find though is that with the constant commercialization of Christmas it can be overwhelming for a toddler, for anyone really. They hear "if you're good Santa will bring you presents" or "You better behave if you want gifts!"...I don't want my son to think that Christmas is solely about what he can get. It's not about the haul he makes every year under the tree...don't get me wrong, he's spoiled every year by all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and gets more toys than I can count...but my job as his mom is to teach him to be thankful for them all because of who gave them to him, not because of what they are. Does that make sense? I firmly believe that a gas station toy truck picked up last minute is just as meaningful as a fancy electronic gizmo and should be treated with the same respect and sense of thankfulness. That doesn't happen overnight though. We instill that into our children over time with our words and actions. We model that behavior and also show them how to do so by allowing them situations to practice it. 
   When I started researching Advent Calenders I didn't find any that fit my needs financially, family wise, or time wise. I needed something that could change yearly as we grow as a family, move, or as our finances change. So I took several ideas that I liked and combined them with some of our favorite family traditions to create our Advent Calendar. I'm hoping it works for you too!
Not above using Grandparents to my advantage...


Kept him behaving for two weeks!

   Here's how it goes...

1. Start with 25 Envelopes and Cards of your liking. I personally use Kraft Brown for both because it matches our Christmas decor and wrapping but you could use whatever you want!  On the Envelopes write the Numbers 1-25. On the Cards write one thing from your list of things that you decided upon. Match your Card with your Day and put it into your Envelope. The best part is that next year you can change the order of you need to, just remember not to seal the envelope! :)

2. Decide upon your order based upon your checks, school activities, work days, family movie preferences, family visiting on certain days, etc...there's a lot going on in life. Don't let your calender be a burden. Make it work for you! Just be smart about it, obviously certain things need to be done earlier in the month than others. whereas baking cookies for Santa may need to wait a while :)

3. Some days require things to be done and therefore require supplies to do them. I start picking the supplies up as early as possible. PJ's on sale, Gingerbread house kits in October, Mini Candy Canes from the dollar tree...I scour Pinterest starting in July when I have free time for ideas that are cheap and quick but still meaningful and then make a supply list. As things pop up on sale I buy them and stash them away. Come November the Advent Calender is done. I even wrap the supplies so my toddler and hubby feel like they get a gift every day. It's cheesy but effective. It gets them hyped about family time and community service. Having everything pre-gathered makes it quick and easy as well as one less thing I have to stress about. It is also one less thing in the budget to worry about.

4. Below is our list but you can change it to fit your traditions. I promise no one will be offended :) Think of it as a kickstarter for your brain. Just try to keep a balance between family time and community thankfulness. It is about teaching your child  
Home Depot for a tree...weird I know!
Some kids are soooo dramatic about hanging lights...

1. Let's Go Christmas Tree Shopping!

2. Let's Decorate the Tree!

Ornament 2013

3. Homemade Ornaments for Grandparents

4. Write Letters to Santa
Torts are easier :)

5. Bake an Apple Pie

6. Take Cookies to Fireman

                      7. Family Movie night ~"Charlie Brown Christmas"
Like Father, Like Son
Mason chose the colors across the board
on this. Let your kids have a say :)

8. Build A Gingerbread House
9. Family Movie Night ~"How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
10. Homemade Hot Cocoa with the Family

11. Teacher Appreciation Day


PInterest is your friend!

12. Visit Veteran's Retirement Center with Mini Candy Canes
13. Pull Names and go Shopping! ($10 limit)
14. Visit Santa!

15. Daddy / Monkey time :)

Kid Crack!!!!

16.Quiet Day (no yelling, timeouts, etc...everyone on their best behavior for Santa :D)
17. Put together Present Bags for Teachers!
18. Take Presents to Teachers :)
19. Take Mini Stockings to Policeman (filled with candy of choice)
20. Clean out toys and Donate them
21. Christmas Shopping (last minute if needed)
22. Look at Christmas Lights in the neighborhood
23. Bake Cookies for Santa!
Nothing sexier than a man who bakes ;)

24. Polar Express Night!
  1. Put on your new PJ's
  2. Make your Hot Cocoa
  3. Polar Express Movie
(this is my favorite night of the whole thing! We actually take a breather before the chaos and I love the family time together.)

25. Merry Christmas!!!!

    At least that is what the kids look for right? Here is what we do...We "feed the reindeer", put the kiddo in bed, make it look like Santa was here, put the rest of the gifts together, make elf prints, clean up the house, prep for breakfast, chug about a gallon of Coffee, try not to kill all the other adults in the house as we run into each other in the process, and somewhere along the way we get great memories like these...

     Christmas is so magical when you're little and soooo much work when you're older. But with a little planning and clear goal in mind I've found that it can be a lot of fun as an adult too. Just remember that in the long run it's about family and giving and not about the gifts. Just keep it simple and family oriented and I guarantee you will have a fantastic Christmas Advent Season. Early Merry Christmas Planning Everyone!

Best Wishes,
Jules & Monkey

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