It's not too late! Countdown to Christmas with Family Advent Activities

by Robin

OK - who did it?!  Who killed November?  I'm totally not pleased about its death - I need a few more weeks to get out from under the busy-ness of life right now.  We'll be back again later this week to describe why our life is "Cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs" these days.  It's been so wildly busy, we forgot to plan our Advent countdown.  

This Advent Activities post was originally published in 2012.  Thank goodness we can - and will! - repeat this all again.  Minus the December 1st putting up the tree - that's been deferred to tomorrow.  If we tried it tonight when our stress levels are so high, we would have grinched up the whole thing and ruined it for everyone.  So thankful our kids are understanding...and thankful this style of counting down until Christmas is flexible for last-minute planners like us. 

Psst - the best one we invented for our list last year: 
"Surprise Mommy and Daddy by letting them sleep in". 
That one's getting used again for sure! Maybe twice.

When I wasn't looking November slipped away!  Do you feel that way too?  I think I'll be staying up late tonight putting the finishing touches on my latest idea.  This year we're doing our countdown to Christmas a little differently and I couldn't be more excited!  

This year we're doing a daily family activity for our advent calendar.  I've got it all planned out (ok - I've got it mostly planned out).  Each day - instead of opening a little waxy chocolate in a perforated paper box - we're going to do a family activity.  I am excited to see how the kids take to this.  If things go how I expect they will be crazed with excitement.  The sort of thing that gets them excited for the day and jumping out of bed early (not too early I hope).

Each morning they will take turns opening the day's activity.  The beauty is, the activities are things we do every year anyways, but there will be that added excitement only anticipation and secrets can bring.

Here's how it's going to work...

Inspiring Ideas:

It had never even occurred to me to make a Christmas countdown filled with activities until I read this post from Simple Mom I love the easy, colourful way she displayed things.  But, it was Tsh's real, simple ideas and activities that drew me to this idea.  As soon as I read her post, I started my list.

Stephanie from Modern Parents Messy Kids has so many great ideas on her list!

Modern Parents Messy Kids

I like the simplicity of this method from Mess for Less.  Each activity is written on a coloured stick.

Mess for Less

I love how this one from Narrating Life looks!  It's so funky and fun.  I'd have trouble putting this one away after Christmas...

Narrating Life

What Our Advent Calendar Will Look Like:

With how busy things are already, I don't have time to make something too complicated.  And, let's be honest, my kids couldn't care less about how it looks!  They'll have tunnel vision into the next activity - they won't give a rip if it's easy on the eyes.

I've decided to use the free printable from Amy at Living Locurto.  I'll use her little card templates and print our activities on them.  I'm going to use stickers to seal them from curious, peeking eyes.

As for how we'll display them, I'll tuck each paper into the pocket of the kids' Advent wall hanging.  A couple of years ago Ed's mom sent the kids a crafted wall hanging with 25 numbered pockets on it.  She had filled it with little gifts for each day.  They, of course, loved it.  It will be great to be able to use this gift again!  (Now all I have to do is find it before the 1st...)

Our Activities:

Some of these activities will require no explanation, others are little traditions that only make sense to us.  I'll try and explain where needed:

  1. Decorate the Christmas Tree!
  2. Drink hot cocoa, snuggle and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  3. Make snowflake window clings.
  4. Get together with family friends to play games.
  5. St Nicholas Day – Let’s learn more about him!
  6. Music Show at Daddy’s Work
  7. Decorate our gingerbread house (We always buy a sturdy, pre-assembled gingerbread houseNo one here has the patience to make one from scratch.  And really, isn't the real fun in decorating with all the candies?)
  8. Pop popcorn, cuddle and Watch Elf
  9. Mini Christmas with Grandpa and Nan (They'll be away for Christmas, so we get to celebrate early with them!)
  10. Watch Rudolf and Frosty
  11. Make salt dough ornaments for the tree
  12. Watch the Muppet's Christmas Movies
  13. Go to the Farmer’s Parade of Lights!
  14. Make gingerbread men
  15. Write messages in the Oxfam Unwrapped cards for your teachers.  (We like to give the kids' teachers a donation in their honour and a little treat for themselves.)
  16. Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Let’s read the story at bedtime!
  17. Make reindeer cookies for the class
  18. Go with Daddy to get a gift for Mommy
  19. Go with Mommy to get a gift for Daddy
  20. Make wrapping paper!
  21. Sibling Super Spy Shopping Trip (This is one of our favourite family traditions.  You can read all about it here.  You already know we're really into spies.)
  22. Perform a random act of kindness – don’t get caught!
  23. Skype with Auntie, Unkie and Ryan to wish them a Merry Christmas!
  24. Open your Christmas Eve gift.  Track Santa on the NORAD satellite.
  25. Have a Merry Christmas!

Are you doing something special to countdown this year?


  1. Sounds like some awesome ideas! We're going to be making a star every day to put on the window, with a BIG star at Christmas. We're also doing Advent readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible in the Jesse Tree format, which highlights Jesus' lineage from creation to his birth.

    1. Your star idea sounds lovely, Jenn! We've never done a Jesse Tree - maybe next year. Thanks for visiting and commenting. :)

  2. Super cute ideas! I'll pass this along to my daughter - she seems to have more free "crafting" time these days and I know she would love this!

    1. I hope she does like these ideas, Jenn! Thanks for sharing them with her. :)


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