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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Countdown to Christmas, Part Two

There are so many good ideas for making the most of the month of December, so here is part two of Countdown to Christmas.

Here are different versions and adaptations of Countdown Down to Christmas:

Years ago, I started a family advent tradition at our house consisting of activities, good deeds, crafts, outings, and more to be done each day in December.  I wanted to focus on family, the spirit of giving, and, of course, Jesus.  I hoped to take the focus off all the commercialism and marketing schemes.  Thankfully, it worked.  Our family enjoys the activities as much -- or more -- than the gifts of Christmas morning.  Our advent tradition is a favorite of both mine and the kids. 

Some activity ideas:
  1. Go Christmas caroling.
  2. Have a hot chocolate bar for the kids and the neighborhood kids after a fun day of sled riding.
  3. Visit Santa Claus and have photos taken.
  4. Introduce the Elves for the Christmas season.*  Elf on the Shelf is a great tradition that we have done in our home for over five years. More information about the Elves in a later post.
  5. Host a family game night and invite another family.
  6. Bake cookies and other desserts for gifts (and the annual open house).
  7. Deliver cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc., to local fire fighters, police officers, and senior citizen centers.*
  8. Go to a Christmas tree farm to pick out the traditional family Christmas tree.
  9. Have a Christmas tree decorating party.  Invite the aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  Take lots of photographs.
  10. Go shopping for the annual Christmas ornament based on the children's likes and interests for this past year.  Each child gets to pick out a new ornament.
  11. Build a gingerbread house and gingerbread family.*
  12. Take the annual family Christmas photos.
  13. Write letters to Santa and take them to the post office.*
  14. Make a birthday cake for Jesus.*
  15. Have a Christmas movie marathon.*
  16. Decorate the house with the help from the children.
  17. Let the kids create some Christmas cards for their teachers and grandparents.*
  18. Have a picnic dinner by the light of the Christmas tree.*
  19. Let the children decorate their own Christmas tree.*
  20. Host a Christmas craft party for your children and their friends.
  21. Have a Christmas wrapping party for the kids.
  22. Snuggle up and read Christmas stories.
  23. Have a Christmas scavenger hunt.
  24. Talk about Jesus and his birth and the true reason of Christmas.*
  25. Have kids go through their old toys to donate to a local charity. My kids love this part of Christmas.*
  26. Sleep under the Christmas tree.
  27. Go dollar store shopping with cousins.* 
  28. Help a family in need by shopping for food, necessities, and one gift for each member of the family.*
  29. Take a drive around town to see all the beautiful Christmas lights and outside decorations.*
  30. Make Christmas gifts, such as gifts in a jar, cross-stitch, ornaments.*
  31. Make What Are We Thankful For paper chain garland.*
  32. Learn about Christmas traditions in other countries.*
  33. Learn about Kwanzaa.* (My daughter wants to learn more about her heritage.)
  34. Read the Christmas story from the Bible (usually done on Christmas day).*
  35. Make Magic Reindeer Food.*
  36. Snowman making contest.
  37. Play a Christmas trivia game. Make your own game.  Many facts can be found online and at your local library.
  38. Attend Christmas Eve service at a local church.*
  39. See the awesome lights at Hartwood Acres.*
  40. Play Christmas games.
  41. Make and eat a red and green dinner.
  42. Go to the local Christmas parade.
  43. See the fabulous Christmas tree display at Kraynak's.*
  44. Participate in Operation Christmas Card.*
  45. Make Christmas gift tags from last year's Christmas cards.*
  46. Participate in Operation Shoebox.
  47. Participate in Operation Christmas Child.*
  48. Journal - Top 10 Christmas Carols, Top 5 Gifts of All Time, Most Favorite Christmas, What Does Christmas Mean to You.
  49. Let the kids decorate their rooms.
  50. Track Santa online.*
  51. Make a Christmas wish list.
  52. Offer to babysit for a single mother so she can go Christmas shopping without the kids.
  53. Make Christmas ornaments.*
  54. Make Christmas Countdown Tree.
  55. Scrapbook all the activities and chaos of the Christmas season.*
* denotes the traditions we do in our home.

Dollar Store Shopping
Each cousin draws a name from a hat and shops for that person. Then, we all gather at our house to wrap the gifts.  After a fun dinner of party foods, the kids open their gifts.

Magic Reindeer Food
Mix 1/4 cup oatmeal and sprinkle of red or green sugar crystals. Put in a small Ziploc bag or small baby food container.

Paper Chain Garland
Each day the kids write something they are thankful for and add the new "chain" to the garland.  Each person who visits during the holidays is asked to participate.

Wrapping Paper Party
The kids make their own wrapping paper.  Then, they wrap as many presents as possible.  They also create Christmas gift tags. Our wrapping has evolved over the years.

Add your own family traditions . . . and create new traditions.

You can choose to do only one activity a day or to do 3-4 activities each day.  For us, it depended on the mood of the kids.  The "extra" activities were listed on a piece of paper in my desk drawer.


Heidi Szczepanski said...

Absolutely great ideas. Love elf on the shelf. Thanks for posting.

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Jingle Bells Farm said...

There are some wonderful ideas here! I've been planning to do something similiar this year and will definitely be taking on some of your suggestions. Thankyou so much for sharing.