Sunday, December 2, 2012

Count Down to Christmas Ideas

We've tried out a few different kinds of countdown to Christmas ideas over the years.  I have some of the blocks I made from a Pick Your Plum project.  Last year I wrapped 25 Christmas books that we counted down by opening one each night.  This year we are doing 3 countdowns each day (I have 3 children so this way they each get to "do" something everyday).   Here's our 3 countdowns this year:

The Traditional Advent via Magnetic Plate:
 I got this as a gift from my friend a few years ago and it's a favorite every year.  This is a wonderful craft project.  It's made from a large plain plate, adding vinyl, hot glue ribbon to the back, and find a cute magnet.  One of my kids gets to move the present each day- closer and closer to Christmas!
Activity Countdown:
This year I decided to add an activity countdown.  I really wanted the whole thing to be  service project countdown and do a different service project each day, but my kids are little and I realized that there's no way I could get that much done since many of the service projects require a lot of advance planning, prep, and cost.  So, I included the service projects and added other fun activities for us to do all month long.  So each morning after moving the day counter (above), another child would pull the tag off the wall with our Christmas activity for that day.  Depending on the day, it would be completed after school or in the evening.  I kept these 2 advents on our stair landing where we each pass it several times a day.
 I really wanted to have this adorable advent wall hanging done so that I could put these slips of paper in the pockets on the wall hanging, but I didn't get it done.  So I put them on cardstock and taped to the wall :-)  Whatever works!  My kids love it.

Here's a sneak peek at my advent wall hanging pockets.  I will have this done for our activity countdown next year!
You are probably wondering what some of the 25 activities and service projects are.  Here's a partial list:  Visit a nursing home (take treats and sing carols), Making Ornaments for their Grandma in a retirement home, Visit Grandma's and take gifts, Christmas Caroling to some Elderly/Widow's from our Church, Handing out Toys, Food, Sleeping bags at a homeless Shelter, Taking Cookies and Thank You note to our local Fire Station, Delivering Goodies to our Neighbors and Friends, Attending a Living Nativity Exhibit,  Going to a huge Gingerbread Display, Writing Letters to Santa, Christmas Family Home Evening Lesson, Watch Miracle on 34th Street & Hot Cocoa, Drive to Christmas Light Houses, Call their Grandma & Grandpa who live out of state, Watch Frosty and Make Caramel Popcorn.
The Book & Scripture Countdown:
Last year I wrapped all of the Christmas books and they got to unwrap one each day.  While this was fun, the kids didn't get to enjoy many of our Christmas books until they got unwrapped.  So this year I didn't wrap them.  I simple put a label on each with their number and also included a scripture about Christ.  I put them in a special basket by our Christmas tree.  I'm totally fine if they want to read the stories during their own reading time, we would just read the designated Christmas Book each night but they still got to read many of their favorite books over and over during the month.  We'd also read the designated scripture about Christ each night so it would help us keep our thoughts focused on the 'reason for the season'.  The kids look forward to our Book time each night before bed.  The 3rd child would get to pull the book from the basket and help look up the scripture.

Whatever method you use, it creates some fun family traditions.  I've been consciously trying to focus my efforts on service or Christ, while still making it fun.  I'm hoping this helps us focus on the true meaning of Christmas and help keep us "centered" all month long.  Happy Count Down!

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