Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christmas Planning - in July

As anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows -- I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  This year we will be adding an addition to our family.  Come Christmas our little boy will only be 6 weeks old, so I am starting to plan early.

The planning that I have started is that of our Advent Calendar.  I found out a lot of great information about Advent Calendars throughout this hunt I am on.

This is what I am looking for:

1.  I want to make it myself.  I love the homemade Christmas feel.  Now that I have children I think it is really important to encourage creativity.  I am a super creative person, so this just fills this huge need for me.
2.  I want it to be one that can be used for multiple years.  I don't want to have to make it yearly. 
3.  I want it to be filled with more than just sweets.

Now I found several that I like.  I am sure that I will adapt them to make my own version and to make it exactly what I want.

Here are the links to the ones I like.

I am really thinking it will be an adaptation of the first link and the third link - I am thinking it will go on our refrigerator.  That middle link is just too cute and may be used as well.  We are also wrapping 24 Christmas books and reading each one at bedtime.  We picked up most of them at Half Price Books (a used book store) and Valley Thrift Shop (books were $0.29 each!).

This link is not to an actual calendar, but it gives a lot of different activities.  I will be using this for coloring pages, craft ideas, recipes and the like.

Then I found some great ideas on what to fill our Advent Calendar with.
  1. Bake Cookies and give them to a local nursing home
  2. Show the love of St Nicholas by filling an old shoe with treats and giving it to a neighbor
  3. Clean out closets for donations
  4. Family Movie Night
  5. go look at Christmas displays (here in Cincinnati we have a live nativity scene)
  6. Make Christmas Cards
  7. Send Christmas Cards
  8. Visit Santa
  9. Bathtime with Christmas Carols
  10. Local Tree Lighting Ceremony
  11. Make an ornament and give it to a neighbor
  12. Decorate every door in your house
  13. Write a letter to Santa
  14. Write a Christmas Story together
  15. Make Christmas drawings and use glitter for the snow.
  16. Create a Christmas Scene with Shaving Cream
  17. Create Cards for friends and family
  18. Make gift tags
  19. Fancy dress dinner
  20. Dessert first night
  21. Paper Snowflakes for the Windows
  22. Hot Chocolate and Popcorn snack night
  23. Sing and Dance to Christmas Music
  24. make and hang edible gifts for birds and squirrels
  25. Christmas Jokes
  26. Christmas Quotes from Movies and Books
  27. Christmas Scriptures
  28. Christmas Treasure Hunt
  29. Giving Day - books/toys/clothes
  30. Ice Skating
  31. New PJ Night
  32. PJ Dinner
  33. Ornament Decorating Party
  34. Christmas Cookie Exchange
  35. Gingerbread House
  36. Coloring Pages
  37. Christmas Crafts
  38. Family Traditions
Obviously there is more here than what any one family needs for an advent calendar.  Some of these things can be done everyday while others you will only want to do one on a day.  Others you might want to plan to fall on a Saturday.  Some other tips I read will really help with planning.
  • Start planning with activities you will already be doing.
  • Do large activities early.
  • DO NOT OVER DO IT! (okay that one is for me with the crafts!)
  • Write down the activities in your planner/on your calendar so you know what is coming up.
  • Get the whole family involved.  
Specific Dates (if you want a very traditional Advent Calendar):
  • Advent starts 4 Sundays before the 25th. (This year that means it should start on November 27th)
  • December 1, place up your Nativity Scene but without the Holy Family.
  • December 6, Saint Nicholas Day (celebrated in our family by hanging out our stockings on December 5th)
  • December 14, Place Mary and Joseph across the room from the Nativity Scene.
  • December 20, Move them closer.
  • December 23, Place them in the manger.  
  • December 25, Add baby Jesus
Like I said, I love Christmas.  I especially love it when things are well planned and memories are created.  This is going to help with my Advent Calendar.   Hope it helps you too!

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