Happy December! And welcome to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. 🙂
As we go through our first holiday season in our new home, I am so looking forward to finding and starting traditions we can have each year as our family grows. One classic tradition I’ve actually never done is an Advent Calendar! I’ve seen them in tons of places, in many different forms, and in plenty Christmas movies, so I decided to get one for our home. I found ours at Target!
Since I didn’t know too much about the tradition, I researched the history and origin story behind them. For starters, the word ‘advent’ means arrival or an appearing, coming into place. Religiously speaking, it’s a time of waiting and reflecting on Jesus’ first coming to earth. Advent is the time some Christians take to prepare their hearts to focus on the true meaning Jesus’ birth.
Historically, the Advent Calendar originated in the early 20th century starting with 24 little candies stuck on cardboard. From there it evolved to sometimes include pictures, then pockets or doors similar to versions we see today. They can use materials such as paper, fabric, wood, or string and hide candies, decorations, Bible verses, or sometimes small notes.
Mine will hide away secret notes for each of the 24 days; sometimes riddles of sorts, sometimes prompts, usually involving activities. Always meant to spark joy, excitement, and hopefully something to look forward to. I plan to share each note and theme, added to this list day by day, for others to follow along and maybe provide ideas and inspiration for your own Advent Calendars for years to come.
I hope you enjoy – and happy holidays ❤
Day 1 – Childhood Memories
This is the most nostalgic time of year. Think back on some of your favorite holiday childhood memories. What were they? What or who made them so special? Can we recreate them today?
Day 2 – Movies (in two parts)
Pop the popcorn, make the hot cocoa, it’s movie time! Pick your favorite Christmas movie(s) to watch today to fully immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit.
But it doesn’t stop there. You also have to pick the ultimate Christmas movie in a bracket-style selection process, good luck.
Day 3 – Decorations (in two parts)
This is the first day of the senses challenge! You have all 5 to choose from, so this one may be hard. I’ll narrow it down a bit: you have 2 specific body parts made for this sense. The final clue: you use this sense all day long except when you sleep…
It’s your sight! And we want to SEE Christmas decorations everywhere! Because it can’t be Christmas time without decorations. Make or buy a Christmas decoration to go in the house or on the tree that’s fitting of you, your personality, and/or this year.
Day 4 – Stocking Stuffers
Hung with care, adding a finished cozy feeling, and a bit of a fire hazard: today we’re stuffing stockings! Write out your own stocking stuffer wishlist for your family, then either pick one stocking of someone else’s to fill, or add a little bit to every family members’ stocking.
Day 5 – Books
Today is the day to be inspired. The best way to do that is to be transported to a different world – through books! Pick a book to read either today or starting today. It can be any type of book: a novel, nonfiction, a children’s book, whatever will spark inspiration and imagination in your mind.
Day 6 – Capture the Moment
A picture is worth a thousand words, and we want to remember this time forever. So today we’re going to capture the moment in a picture, [for us] specifically a polaroid picture. Make sure it captures your favorite parts of the season and is a memory you want to keep for a long time to come.
Day 7 – Fuzzy Feels (in two parts)
This is the second day of the senses challenge! That means there are still 4 senses to choose from. Here’s your hint: this sense uses your whole body and we’re going to use it to create the comfiest, coziest day ever.
It’s touch! Today we want all the fuzzy feels, so grab those extra soft blankets, slippers, hats, robes, sweaters…whatever gives you the comfy cozies and snug up with someone you love.
Day 8 – Gingerbread Decorating
Get ready for a classic. Whether it’s cookies or houses, it’s all about the pretty, delicious finished product: we’re decorating gingerbread! Make it or buy it, polished or abstract; get your frosting and gumdrop buttons and get to decorating!
Day 9 – Moment of Meditation
Let’s slow down today for a time of intentional mindfulness. Create a moment of meditation in your day; meditate on a meaningful or relevant bible verse, story, or lesson. Take time to reflect and write in a journal; focus on mindful breathing in a yoga class. Whatever meditation means to you, slow down during this busy time of year and remember to enjoy it and appreciate everything you have!
Day 10 – Act of Kindness
The holidays are a time of giving, but we want to instill the kind and giving spirit year round. Today focus on an act of kindness you can do for someone – a family member, a friend, a stranger, someone you think needs it most. This act of kindness can come in any form; our house will have $30 to put towards something/someone we think it will impact the most and in the best way. This money was given to us by my parents for this exact reason, so afterwards we’ll write a note telling the story of how we used it to send back to them. Thanks for the idea mom and dad!
Day 11 – Music (in two parts)
Time for another senses challenge! Only 3 left to choose from, so I’m only going to give you one hint but I think it’ll be a big one… “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is…”
“…Singing loud for all to hear!” [Thank Elf!] Today’s sense is hearing, so we’re going to sing and play Christmas music all day long! Fill the house, the car, and your whole day with all your favorite Christmas songs.
Day 12 – The 12 Days of Christmas
Pick a day from the 12 days of Christmas song and use those items in some correlated way. For example: pick pears, make a milk/latte drink, eat turtles [dove] candies, feed the geese, go dancing, go swimming. Get creative! You have plenty to choose from.
Day 13 – The Feeling of Hope
This time of year is known for being full of hope and magic. What is something you’re hopeful for? Whether it’s for this Christmas season, the upcoming year, or life in general, talk about what gives you hope.
Day 14 – Christmas Card
Christmas cards are a great way to reach out to people near and far and give them a quick little update on your life in the past year. [For example, mine talks about us getting a puppy this year!] Today, create a Christmas card picture and recap what you’d like to include about your life in 2020.
Day 15 – Research
Today is the day to expand your mind and learn something new – let’s do some research! Pick a subject like history, literature, science, environmental/sustainability, art, maybe even Christmas! Whatever piques your interest; then do a bit of research on a particular topic that you feel knowledgeable enough to tell your family about it.
Day 16 – What are you waiting for?
What have you always dreamt of doing? Of saying? Of starting? Of creating? Of going? Why haven’t you done it yet? What are you waiting for?? Write out those dreams, goals, and ideas today and take one big step, one leap towards going after them. You’d be surprised what a little faith and Christmas magic could do…
Day 17 – Festive Food
The fourth day of the senses challenge, this one will be a sinch. What’s the best part about the entire holiday season, Thanksgiving through New Years?… EATING!! Of course. Let’s make some festive food today! Whether that means making your favorite holiday dish or side, or baking up those signature holiday cookies, treats, and goodies. Bring out your inner Rachel Ray or Mary Berry and get to cooking/baking – and eating!
Day 18 – What brings you peace?
What brings you peace? What calms your heart, mind, and soul? Is it a person/people, maybe a soothing activity, listening to just the right type of music [or even just sitting in silence], a prayer to give things to God and lift them off your heart, or a special moment of gratitude? Whatever it is for you, take a moment to focus on that today. Find peace in your world, in your life, and in your heart and hold on to it as tight as you can.
Day 19 – Trivia Day
Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Do you know the 3 words that best describe the Grinch? Do you remember what Buddy the Elf says the fake Santa smells like?? Happy trivia day! Run through a list of Christmas trivia questions like these to see who has the most holiday knowledge.
Day 20 – Ice Skating
Depending on where you live, you *may* have to get creative with this one… today is dedicated to a truly wintery activity – ice skating! Indoor or outdoor, real or pretend, this is just one of those hallmark Christmas time activities that we can’t miss out on.
Day 21 – Christmas Lights
One of the best signs that the holidays have finally arrived is the beautiful and festive Christmas lights! In the house and on the house, whether yours or your neighbors’, maybe even a mile[s] long, music coordinated show! Go enjoy all of the Christmas lights your area has to offer today.
Day 22 – Smells of the Season
The last day of the senses challenge may be a giveaway but it’s what fills our homes from food, special drinks, even real trees… today highlights the smells of the season! I always have my favorite season candles, and baking my favorite foods or treats certainly does the trick. I sometimes even have scented pinecones to go with a real pine Christmas tree! Fill your home with all the smells of the season to celebrate today.
Day 23 – Holiday Magic
What makes this time of year so special is that there seems to be undeniable *holiday magic* all around us. Maybe it’s because everyone seems a bit happier this time or year, or because people are willing to lend a hand or go the extra mile for others. Maybe there truly is a special magic around Christmas that makes miracles and dreams come true… how will you create this holiday magic in your own home and for others?
Day 24 – Create New Traditions
We started this calendar with looking back on old traditions, so we’re going to end with looking forward towards new traditions. What’s one new tradition you can create this year to add to your family fun each year to come? For us – we gave one of our very special friends a key to our house, signifying that he is welcome any time and that he is truly a member of our family. We hope to celebrate with him for years and years to come…
Merry Christmas to all. 🙂