One of the Christmas traditions that I have been dying to start is an advent calendar with a fun activity for each day. Ava was too young last year, but this year was perfect. I love the weeks leading up to Christmas, and the advent activities truly helped us make the most of them.
I found an adorable felt advent calendar from Pottery Barn with big pockets for each day. (You could totally make something similar as a DIY project, but I clearly didn't have time for such craftiness this year...and the sale price was too good to pass up.) Then I came up with a list of activities by combining some of our childhood traditions, Pinterest ideas, and fun DFW-area Christmas staples. I mapped these out on a calendar to ensure that the work/school nights were filled with easy activities. Finally, I wrote out all the activities on simple cards and filled the calendar.
Below are the activities from this year. I can't wait to continue this tradition for many years to come!
Day 1: Elf on the Shelf
Ava named him Dobie. No idea where that came from, but I love it. We were not crazy Elf-on-the-Shelf parents, but rather simply moved him to a new location each night. Ava loved finding him in the morning, but her behavior wasn't really swayed by the fact that Dobie reported to Mr. Claus each night. Hopefully that will come next year.
Day 2: Watch Frosty the Snowman
Day 3: Read a Christmas Book
We went with The Polar Express. Such a beautiful book!
Day 4: Take Presents to School
Ava's school collected presents for two local charities to benefit children in need. Ava didn't completely get the concept this year, but I want to add more service activities like this to the calendar as she gets older.
Day 5: Write a Letter to Santa
Ava dictated her letter to me and then decorated it herself. Her list cracked me up!
The finished product...
Day 6: Watch Kate and Ellie in The Nutcracker
I was a little worried that Ava wouldn't make it through the whole thing, but she did great! It helped that it was in a small theatre, and we had seats with a great view. Her favorite characters, other than her cousins of course, were the mice at the beginning. Go figure. And Kate and Ellie were the most adorable gingerbread children ever!
Day 7: Pick and Decorate the Tree
We opted for a real tree this year, and I happen to think it was the most perfect one on the lot. In a couple years, I am determined to go cut one down ourselves at a local Christmas tree farm. Baby steps.
Day 8: Set Up the Nativity and Read the Nativity Story
It is the reason for the season.
Day 9: Make Hot Apple Cider
Ava wasn't sure what to think at first, but then she realized that it is basically just like apple juice.
Day 10: Watch a Christmas Movie
On this night, we opted for the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. As expected, Ava was a huge fan.
Day 11: Hang up the Stockings
I could not for the life of me find the extra hook for Rylan's stocking (#secondchildproblems). But don't worry, his stocking was eventually hung with care.
Day 12: Make S'mores
I think this was my favorite activity of the month. There is nothing quite like roasting marshmallows with your child for the first time.
Day 13: Make a Gingerbread House
This deserves a whole separate post, but Ava had a blast decorating a gingerbread house at the Dallas Tri Delta Alumni Association's Cookies & Castles event, which benefits The Scottish Rite Children's Hospital. I think she ate more candy than went on the gingerbread house.
Day 14: Take a Photo with Santa
Rylan wasn't quite sure what to think of the bearded stranger, but Ava loved meeting Santa. Despite her earlier letter, she simply requested "lipstick and chapstick" :).
And I had to include the outtake. I was not-so-secretly excited to finally have a Santa picture with a crying child :).
Day 15: Read a Christmas Book
This was one of my favorite Christmas books as a kid, and the scratch-and-sniff pages smelled exactly has I remembered.
Day 16: Watch a Christmas Movie
Day 17: Read a Christmas Book
Our carriage ride was canceled due to the rain (so sad!), so we improvised with another book.
Day 18: Make a Christmas Craft
This wasn't really a craft, but a super easy art project for a work/school night. (printable)
Day 19: Watch a Christmas Movie
Day 20: Buy Your Sibling a Gift
Rylan bought Ava's on Amazon (baby genius), and Ava couldn't pick just one item.
Day 21: Make Hot Chocolate and Drive Around to See the Lights
Day 22: Make Snowman Pizza
This was super easy thanks to the store-bought crust and sauce. It was actually quite tasty, and I love that our snowman developed a little booty during baking.
Day 23: Make Cookies for Santa
This will always be on the activity list. I saw the adorable Santa apron at Central Market and couldn't resist.
Day 24: Open Present and Read Twas the Night Before Christmas
We ended our month of advent activities with two of my favorite Christmas Eve traditions - opening Christmas PJs and reading the book that we enjoyed every year growing up.