Here are a few things that I’ve been doing to get into the Christmas spirit!
Last year the kiddos’ grandparents got them the Little People Nativity Advent Calendar and I printed out a list of holiday crafts, treats and activities. This year I didn’t feel like making my own or just repeating the ones from last year, so I’ve been scouring the web for ideas and free printables. I ended up using three different sets for the pockets – two of them are printable cards with activities and the third is a set of Bible verse advent cards. Many of the activity ideas were the same or similar so I narrowed them down to my favorites.
This is, of course, a very kid-friendly calendar, but I wouldn’t mind something that goes more nicely with the decor. Perhaps this shoe organizer advent calendar? Take a gander at my Christmas Pinterest board to get some inspiration for holiday crafts ‘n’ such. I’m thinking the quickbread in a bottle to leave for the mail lady, candy cane cookies on baking day, graham cracker “gingerbread” houses, peppermint bark popcorn for a movie night, and pom pom pinecones for a kids’ craft.
There were some other cute advent ideas I wanted to implement - a simple Happy Birthday Jesus advent coloring page which I pasted onto cardstock and put on the fridge. The kiddos put a sticker on a number each day, counting down the days to Jesus’ Birthday. I’m thinking of making a small advent cake for Christmas, the colors symbolizing different things for us to remember.
I’ve really wanted to get the focus of the holidays off getting stuff, and more onto giving to others and celebrating Jesus. I’m always on the lookout for making Biblical concepts more concrete and teachable for the kiddos, so I was psyched when I found some Christ-centered holiday crafts. I don’t think we’ll get around to these this year, but I pinned the 12 Days of CHRISTmas, 25 Names of Jesus Ornaments, Names of Jesus Ornament printables and Jesse Tree How-To and Printables.
In the end I went with the Names of Jesus Advent Chain. I didn’t have any sparkly cardstock, so I just cut some of my scrapbook paper down to size. I hung the chain with ribbon from a hook in the living room, and each morning we read one of the names of Jesus along with the corresponding Bible verse, put a sticker on the Happy Birthday Jesus page and check out the advent calendar pocket.
Every year I write a Christmas letter to include with my cards; it’s quite a bit of work so I like to write bits and pieces throughout the year. There have been a number of people who specifically tell me they look forward to receiving the letter, so I feel a bit pressured to keep the tradition going. I enjoy writing, but these days I feel there are so many more things that take priority! I had completely forgotten about the letter until someone recently reminded me – yikes! Well, I decided to pare it down this year, make a condensed version – wasn’t sure what I was going to do about family photos – when someone suggested cardstore.com. They offer free shipping, addressing, and stamps! I scored 75% off on their Black Friday sale and all I have to do is print out the letter and stuff ‘em in with the cards - they’re already addressed and stamped! Think I’ll do this every year.
Today I played Christmas music and pulled out some decorations - including the Little People Nativity set for the kiddos - but it wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be. The kids fought over the toys and I was yelling at them all day, none of the decorations looked right, and I wonder why I drive myself crazy trying to do everything and make it “just so.” No matter how much I try to simplify and make things as meaningful as possible I end up failing. I can’t believe it’s December.