Even if you’re typically good at protecting your schedule from over commitment and saying no, the Christmas season tends to fill up. There are just so many good options and so few days—parties, service opportunities, children’s programs, gift purchasing and giving, cookie baking, family, school and church commitments—they pile up and before you know it, the magic and joy is buried under the stress. My eldest daughter's birthday is also three days before Christmas, and we have been intentional about making space to celebrate her birthday so she doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Now that she and her younger sister are both in school and involved in after-school activities, our gift list and December are the longest and fullest they have ever been.
I don’t want to be stressed out during the most wonderful time of the year. I bet you don’t either.
So a few years ago, I unwittingly started a new tradition. I created an advent calendar of activities—all the simple joys I wanted to be sure didn’t get overlooked in the busyness of the season. I included drinking hot chocolate, taking a drive and looking at Christmas lights, watching Elf, baking cookies, making ornaments, delivering a gift to a neighbor, calling grandparents to sing Christmas carols, “fancy dinner” (little girls in dresses and water in wine glasses)—nothing over the top. The weekend after Thanksgiving, I take a look at our December calendar and match activities with days. Our calendar features paper pockets made of craft paper that hold each day’s activity, so it’s not difficult (or uncommon) to switch activities when plans change.
None of us can wait to do it again this year.
If you decide to make your own, there are no shortage of tutorials on Pinterest to get you going. To make mine, I wrapped a large piece of cardboard in a fabric remnant, then folded and glued pockets made of craft paper to fit my tags (which are actually large gift tags). Make sure you leave a little room for the papers to slide in and out; our number 9 suffered injury and no longer looks as good as the picture.
Here's a list of the activities we included in ours this year (we've had to make slight changes each year) to get you going:
- Decorate the Christmas tree
- Call grandparents to sing a Christmas song (this covers three days for us, since we have three sets)
- Make paper snowflakes
- Make a list of ten things we are thankful for
- Go to a Christmas party
- Watch Elf
- Make an ornament (this year, we are going to try these wood slice ornaments. In previous years, we've done salt dough and melted snowmen, then given them as gifts)
- Make a surprise for Daddy
- Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Buy a gift for a child in need
- Deliver a card to someone special
- Go to a Christmas concert
- Make a Christmas gift (here's a few to try; they make great teacher gifts!)
- Make a Christmas craft
- Fancy dinner
- Deliver a gift to a neighbor
- Visit Santa
- Buy gifts for your siblings
- Go see the Nutcracker Ballet
- Go Christmas caroling
- Drink hot chocolate
- Take a drive to look at Christmas lights
- Special Christmas nail polish
- Read The Night Before Christmas
- Read the Christmas story from the Bible
However you do it, I hope you're able to fight the busyness and make time for magic this Christmas season!