On the 1st Day of Christmas: The Christmas Advent Calendar

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I have to be honest. I have a love/hate relationship with our Advent calendar. I’m a hot mess on a normal day, so adding a daily activity to an already crazy time of year just pushes the gas on the “Hot Mess Express.” However, when you ask my boys what they look forward to during the holiday season … I hear a resounding “The Advent Calendar!” So, here we are, trying to keep the magic of Christmas alive for my ever-maturing gaggle of dudes.

So what is an Advent Calendar? An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. We start ours on December 1st. Here is how I pull it together…

Getting started…

I first print off a blank December calendar. I’ll use this to map out our month. Write in all the activities that are either already figured out or yearly traditions, such as put up Christmas tree, Christmas Brunches, holiday parties, Christmas in the Oaks, and Christmas Eve at grandparents. I usually have about 10 preplanned activities, so there are only 15 days to plan!

Find some inspiration…

Once I have all my definite things filled in, I try and get some inspiration for the rest of the days. Pinterest is a wealth of information for this, but you can find pre-thought ideas that lead you through a month of scriptures, or random acts of kindness, or just fun holiday activities. I usually do a mix of all of these.


This is where you can get creative, or not! A few years ago I made ours out of an old picture frame I was getting rid of. A little paint, some twine, scrapbook paper, and tiny clothespins, and there you have it!

Of course, there are lots of options, and you can get as fancy or as simple as you like. We take ours down and let each boy take a turn flipping over the day and presenting our daily fun. Some years I rhyme, others I type them out with cute graphics, and of course, there are years where I can barely get a ballpoint pen pulled out of the junk drawer … you know, balance. I scotch tape the activity to the back using a small piece of paper so that I can easily reuse it year after year. This also helps when I need to switch days up and make adjustments.

Have some “Plan B” activities ready…

Despite the best planning intentions, it’s inevitable that a day or so will go hairy and the scheduled activity won’t work out. I try to have a few easy things waiting in the wings. Things like s’ mores, Christmas carol karaoke, and reading a Christmas book make great last-minute switch-a-roos for December nights gone wild.

December is almost here, and I know I don’t have much time left with my little ones. At least one of mine no longer hears the ringing of the bell. Every year I say that this might be the last appearance of the Advent Calendar, but my boys’ excitement rallies my Christmas cheer just enough to pull things together.  I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house for 25 people, but as soon as the dust settles in November … I will have a month of intentionality planned out for our crazy little family.


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