There's nothing like the first snow to encourage thoughts of the Christmas season. When I woke up a few days ago to the joyful shouts of my children ("Snow Mommy! Let's go play in the SNOW!"), I immediately had the itch to begin Christmas preparations, But it is not even Thanksgiving yet!!
I have to hold off on the other preparations for a couple weeks yet, but I thought now would be a good time to make our Advent calendar so the kids can begin counting down the days until Christmas beginning with the first Sunday of Advent on November 30th.
Now, normally we buy one of those cheap advent calendars from the grocery store where you open little paper windows to reveal a "Christmas rhyme" and a tiny piece of chocolate. Now that we have two children, I really did not want to deal with either of these scenarios:
1) Buying two Advent calendars so each child can have his/her own.
2) Buying only one Advent calendar and precariously splitting the tiny piece of chocolate perfectly in half each morning for the two to share.
3) Not buying an Advent calendar (because I honestly like them as much as the kids!).
I also began thinking about how I would like the Advent calendar to do a better job of teaching my children the true meaning of the season. I began searching around for a better Advent calendar and saw that they can be super expensive. The only other option? Make my own. Easier to customize.
I saw an idea for a non-traditional Advent calendar in a parenting magazine during one of my prenatal appointments. The magazine detailed how to fold scrapbook paper into cute little "packets" that can be filled with treats. The packets are numbered and then placed in a decorative bowl. Each morning, the child opens one packet until Christmas Day. I liked the idea of making packets - I could adjust their size to put as much stuff inside as I want - so I decided to run with it.
I bought some Christmas-themed scrapbook paper and some peppermint Hershey Kisses to place inside. I also decided to compose a children-friendly version of the Nativity story and split it into installments. The idea is that each day my kids will learn a little more about the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. By the end of Advent, we can read the whole story, start to finish. I also decided to include a simple activity for each day - most of the activities focusing on doing something special for other people. I'm really trying to focus on this being a season of giving - especially since Matthew has already been talking about what Santa is going to bring him this year. It's okay to be excited for presents on Christmas morning, but I want him to also understand that our hearts can be filled with joy and happiness when we give to others.
So, the construction of each packet went like this. Cut a 4" by 7" rectangle out of your paper.
Starting from the short side, roll into a tight cylinder. Make the cylinder has wide or narrow as you want, depending on what you are planning to place in your packet.
Secure with tape. I think a decorative tape like Washi tape would be great, but I couldn't find any that was Christmas themed. So I just used what we had.
Flatten one end of the packet and pinch together evenly. If you have a little overlap of paper, trim it so the paper is evenly together. (I don't know if that tip made sense - but it sounded good in my head) Secure with tape. At this point, fill the packet with items of choice.
Flatten the other end of the packet perpendicular to the first end and secure with tape. Ta-Da!
Fill out a little sticker label with the number corresponding to the packet - in this case "1".
Make about 24 more!
That's it! Easy, simple, and I think they look kind of cute. Ideally, I would keep these displayed on top of our piano, but I think I'm going to have to put them up in a high place once Emma realizes they are filled with food.