It’s very easy for children to see Christmas as all about them getting lots of presents on Christmas Day. If you’d like to encourage them to think more about what we’re celebrating, whether from a religious perspective or otherwise, you might like to use this alternative advent calendar activity.
The basic idea is to have an activity or thought for each of the 24 days in the run up to Christmas Day – write each one on a slip of paper, number them 1 – 24, and then open one each day – and do whatever it says on the slip! We have a family advent calendar with little pockets in, which we re-use each year – I put a little chocolate and one of the slips of paper in each pocket. If you’d like to make a family heirloom calendar The purl bee has a guide to making a felt advent calendar and Allsorts has one too – but you could just as easily use 24 little envelopes in a box, or large piece of card with lift-up flaps stuck on with the writing underneath.
So, what advent calendar activities to choose? You might want to include some craft and baking activities and events that you know you’ll be attending, such as the school nativity play. If you’re doing this to encourage your children to think about the messages of the season you’ll also want to include some charitable / neighbourly acts and things that bring the family together. Think about how much time you’ll have to spend each day, and perhaps write simple activities for school nights and save ones that will need more time spending on them for the weekends.
Eat your first mince pie of the year.
Make some paper snowflakes to decorate the windows.
Sing some Christmas carols.
Make a Christmas card for your teacher.
Write a letter to Father Christmas and post it to the North Pole.
Read a Christmas story book – our favourite is ‘Father Christmas’ by Raymond Briggs.
Make an angel for the top of the Christmas tree.
Put on some Christmas music and have a dance.
Decorate your Christmas Tree.
Choose three of your toys and give them away to a charity shop.
Phone Grandma for a chat.
Make some salt dough decorations. (‘how to do’ details coming soon)
Get some reindeer food ready.
Make the birds in your garden a Winter Feast Treat
Get in your car – in your PJs – and drive around to see the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood.
Wrap a present for your sister and hide it under the tree.
Go the the pantomime with all the family.
Write a Christmas Wish and hang it on your tree.
Watch the school nativity play.
Make and deliver Christmas cards to your neighbours.
Hang up your Christmas stocking.
That’s 22 – were you counting? Got any more suggestions for me?