mama scout lab e-course

Friday, November 29, 2013

{how to} make a simple advent tradition

OK. Here is the deal. I really dislike highly curated crafts and experiences for kids. Especially during the holidays. You can search Pinterest for advent calendars and will see some really amazing things. But in our house, the mama's creative interests lay elsewhere. And the kids want to be a part of the planning and tradition making. So, our holiday projects are messier, less color-coordinated and I contend, easier and more fun.

Our advent is in the top 5 favorite holiday activities. I think I love it as much as the kids. It acts as a touchstone and organizing activity. I wanted to share the way it has evolved in our family and offer an example of the great memory making that can happen when we drop the perfection and engage our kids in the process

+ Get 25 envelopes. You can use white ones, colored ones, homemade, whatever. It does not matter! I like these little coin envelopes that I use when sending badges and goodies to my lab participants. They come in packages of a gazillion, so I always have a bunch. 

+ Let the kids decorate them. Get our rubber stamps, paint, glitter, magazines, anything that might be fun. And let go. Really let them go for it. You will have the most amazingly beautiful and meaningful envelopes no matter what they do. You can jump in and make a few too of course. 

+ Hang them on a string as a garland or put in a box or bowl. Again, whatever works for you. You might even deliver one each day in your indoor family mailbox. 

+ Fill them with activities. I put in the actives I KNOW are happening in advance and fill the rest as the month goes along. So many times, something really fun comes up and alters our plan so I keep it loose. I make a list that I keep with my calendar and usually organize a few days at a time. Most are so simple, there is not much to do.

The key to this project is that you listen to what your kids think are the most important holiday activities and make sure they are covered. Sprinkle that with a few new ideas and lots of very simple activities and you have month of fun.  Hopefully, this makes the anticipation for Christmas more bearable by spreading the magic out over an entire month.

Here are many ideas to get your creative juices flowing. PLEASE leave your ideas on this project in the comments.

anything that is already on your calendar that is remotely fun
movie nights
pancakes + cocoa for breakfast
make cookies/caramels/peppermint bark
make homemade dog treats
make wrapping paper
make bird feeders
read a favorite book
take a solstice walk
holiday spa baths
take wish list items to the SPCA
lunch with a friend or grandparent
plays and performances
any local events
paint your nails red + green
string popcorn and cranberries
kind bomb the library or the store
make peppermint bath salts
make salt dough ornaments
make gingerbread/peppermint/cocoa play dough
conduct an oral history of the elders (find out what the holidays were like for them)
hang twinkle lights in the bathroom + bedrooms
have a candle lit dinner
decorate tshirts to sleep in
make coffee filter snowflakes
open a new game to play
download Lego instructions for holiday themed projects
write letters back and forth to the North Pole
drive around and look at lights
make origami to hang on the tree
donate a car full of old toys and clothes
play with shaving cream and little animals in a tray
sing some songs/learn a song on the piano/recorder
do a treasure hunt for a little gift
service work
go on a photo hunt for red + green things
ice skating
play date
family lego/mine craft/rainbow loom party
Skype far away friends or family
make the biggest snowflake ever
make holiday cards/thank you cards
decorate the mouse cages


  1. You've got me curious about decorate the mouse cages! lol! Great ideas! :)

  2. Oh, I love your list. I posted the other day about our activities advent calendar, but I love your envelope decorating and you've given me some fab new ideas for activities for future years.


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