Monday, December 5, 2011

Counting Up

I love Advent calendars, don't you?  It's so fun to make these days of preparation special by counting down to the big day.  The problem with Advent calendars is they're usually filled with candy and/or small toys.  My children do not need any more of either (although the Halloween candy is finally gone--I think Hubby must have thrown the rest of it away).  I've heard of Advent calendars filled with fun ideas for activities or crafts or whatever, but the thought of preparing for all of those activities gives me the shivers...yikes!  And thinking them up in the first place?  Not gonna happen.  Not in this household (but if that's something that interests you, check out Valerie's list of Advent activities here).

This year, it seemed especially important to use Advent calendars with my kids.  Roger has been absolutely certain that every day since we put our tree up was Christmas.  It's so hard to wait!  And it's so hard for a 4 year old to understand that the amount of time we have to wait measures in weeks, not hours or minutes.  The Advent calendar gives the kids a visual representation of just how many days are left.

In the past, I've wrapped up our Christmas and winter themed books and had the boys open one each day, with the Bible coming on December 24.  This is a nice way to count down to Christmas because it ensures that we actually read all of those special Christmas books during this season, and the kids get a little bit of a gift-opening fix each day.  But I didn't get around to wrapping the books this year, and it's kind of hard to keep track of whose turn it is to open the book each day, anyway, so I decided to do something a little different this year.

Here's what I came up with:

I patterned this one for MC after the ambitious Advent calendar I made last year (click to see).  Once again, I used toilet paper tubes, cut in half and glued to a piece of cardboard in the shape of a tree, but instead of covering each space separately, I used one sheet of green tissue paper to cover the whole tree.  Too late, I realized that this would have looked really cute if I had covered the cardboard with wrapping paper before gluing on the tubes...whoops! I just cut the excess cardboard away.  And I'm pretty sure I won't remember for next year...or the next time I do this.

 Inside, I put Christmas jokes, like "why did the karate instructor admire Santa?  Because he has a black belt."  MC is a funny guy and loves, loves, loves jokes, so it seemed fitting.  I got the idea from here...and maybe someday I'll actually do it the way Siobhan did--so cute!  Anyway, each morning, MC chooses a spot and pokes a hole to get his joke.  It's kind of nice to not have to worry about which space is opened each day.

For Roger, I decided to do something a little different.  I cut out a bunch of 3.5" circles in green, red, brown, and yellow.  Roger decorates one circle each day, using whatever we have: today it was "jewels" and pom poms, and we put it up on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree.  Here's what it looks like undecorated, just to give you an idea:
The star comes last, on Christmas Eve--when the tree is complete, it's Christmas (click here to see the finished tree).  I got this idea from a cooperative art project one of the classes at Roger's school did.

How about you?  How do you count down (or up) to Christmas?  Oh, and don't worry if you haven't started yet--you can still use either of these ideas, just use fewer spots--use however many TP tubes or circles as there are days left until Christmas.

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