Now that it’s December, the kids are excited and counting down the days until Christmas! Many people do Advent Calendars and there are several different kinds out there…some just have doors you open each day or you scratch off the date, sometimes there is candy inside the door and some have drawers you open that can be filled with a treat. In recent years there are even Lego, Barbie and LOL Surprise advent calendars where you get a little toy/accessory each day. A few years ago we started doing one with a bit of twist, thanks to a special advent calendar that my aunt made and sent to me as a gift to use with my family. Ours is fabric and has pockets that are numbered for the days of the month. Rather than just filling the pockets with candy, I decided to also fill them with something special to do each day. Like reading stories as a family, buying something for a family in need, watching a movie, singing Christmas carols, going to a special activity as a family or etc.

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Even though we’re already a few days into December, it’s not too late to start! You could start your countdown anytime or you could even wait and do the “12 days of Christmas” and start it on December 13th for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. And you don’t need to have a special Advent Calendar to do it. You could simply make a paper chain for each day and write the activities on each piece of the chain. If you have a calendar with drawers or etc, just add slips of paper to it. Or, if you have an “Elf on a Shelf” (godspeed to you, if you do ;-)), you could have the elf leave a slip of paper/note each day with an activity to do.

As for the activity ideas, here is a list of some to get you started (some are specific to the Green Bay area):
-Go Christmas Caroling
-Call Family or Friends and Sing Christmas Songs
-Build a Snowman
-Make Snow Angels
-Have a Snowball Fight (have one inside with cotton balls or wadded up paper if there’s no snow)
-Watch a Christmas Movie (insert specific title if desired)
-Read a Christmas Book to Mom, Dad or a Sibling
-Read Christmas Stories as a Family
-Drive Around and Look at Christmas Lights
-Go to Green Bay Botanical Gardens WPS Garden of Lights display
-Get a Christmas Tree
-Decorate the Christmas Tree
-Drink Hot Chocolate
-Do Something Nice for Someone
-Write Letters to Santa
-Visit Santa
-Make a Christmas Craft
-Make Paper Snowflakes
-Make a Christmas Countdown Chain
-String Popcorn
-Help with Christmas Cards (i.e. apply address/return labels, stamps, seal)
-Wrap Gifts
-Go to Neville Museum to see Bruce the Spruce, Snow Babies & Children’s Only Shop
-Go to the National Railroad Museum for the Festival of Trees
-Paint Nails and/or Toenails like Candy Canes
-Draw a Picture of Baby Jesus in a Manger
-Make Christmas Cookies/Candy
-Take Cookies or Candy to a Neighbor
-Play a Game as a Family
-Make Gingerbread Houses
-Do a Good Deed for Someone
-Read the Christmas Story from the Bible (Some passages to read are: Luke 2:1-20, Luke 1: 26-38, Luke 2: 1-5, Matthew 1:18-24, Mark 1:1-8, Isaiah 9:1-6)
-Find Nativity Pieces (hide nativity pieces around the house)
-Re-tell the Christmas Story with a Nativity Set
-Act out the Christmas Story as a Family
-Go to a Christmas Concert
-Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Heritage Hill
-Buy a Gift to Donate to Someone in Need
-Take Food to a Local Pantry
-Ring Bells for the Salvation Army
-Give Money to a Salvation Army Kettle
-Have a Special Family Dinner
-Invite a Friend or Neighbor over for Dinner
-Be a Helper to Mom or Dad in a Special Way
-Play Christmas Music and Dance
-Give Someone a Hug
-Go to a Church or School Christmas Program
-Go to a Christmas Eve Church Service

I try to sit down in advance and plan out the month to figure out which days to do which activities based on what we have planned and etc, but some things get added or switched around the night before since plans change.

I hope these ideas help and that you try it out and make some special memories as a family. Merry Christmas!!