Happy December! Can you not even judge me when I tell you that I have TWO Christmas advent calendars? Minimalist failure. I made a hanging pocket felt one and then a few years later, in a weak moment at target, I found this tiny door tree on clearance (here is a similar one!). I can’t commit to just one – one folds up so small and the other has the thrilling tiny doors – so I store both for 11 months each year. I’m not proud of my actions. No, I don’t fill both each year (not quite that crazy – yet), but switch it up depending on my mood.
(Speaking of moods, yes I feel the same way about this as I do the Halloween countdown calendar…over it, locked in, and sucking it up. I don’t think holiday busyness is necessary or beneficial, so if posts like this bring an ounce of guilt or obligation, RUN! This is our one over the top December thing. No Elf on a Shelf. No Christmas cards. No nothing. So with that…)
I know there’s a 1000 great DIY calendars out there, so I won’t go there. All I’m offering is cheap and simple ways to fill the 25 days. I’ve made all the mistakes and I’m very much against filling our houses with junk and our days with obligations, because Christmas is about neither of those things.
My suggestions: Stick to one or two consumable gifts, throw in a candy cane, and keep the rest the most basic of activities, especially ones that you would be doing anyways. Since our family can be pretty fickle when it comes to plans, I have stopped putting in every parade/tree lighting/etc to keep us easy and flexible. But no big deal to skip or reschedule activities on the days you just can’t get it together. At least you tried. (EXAMPLE: I failed at day one! We still don’t have a Christmas tree. Well, the aluminum is up, but kids want a real tree this year. Heading to lot soon!) If you are feeling extra extravagant, it can be fun to occasionally (about every 3rd year for me!) gussy things up with tiny paper cut-outs, ribbon and wrapping paper. But whether you make tiny paper cutouts or plain slips of paper, save them for next year. Or, at the very least, tuck a list of what you did this year into your calendar before putting it away.
Scroll down to see my list of favorite fillers!
Christmas 2016 is looking something like this:
- get a Christmas tree! (= FAIL #1)
- drink hot chocolate
- family movie night
- read The Grinch
- shop for gifts for families in need
- make ornament gifts (felt ones this year)
- eat these candy canes
- visit Avila Barn
- present wrapping party (nothing special – put on music and wrap)
- beach bonfire
- read the Christmas Story
- make paper snowflakes
- fondue night (a favorite, as are candlelight dinners!)
- farmer’s market
- family game night
- eat those other candy canes
- go ice skating (FAIL #2: it looks like our “rink” won’t be open this year…Christmas roller skating instead?)
- make cookies
- Christmas Tea (an annual, when we can, fancy tea with grandma and cousins!)
- look at Christmas lights (we bring hot chocolate and cruise the town)
- slumber party under the tree
- make raviolis
- make more cookies!
- PUT OUT THE COOKIES, THE END!
Small consumable gifts:
- candy canes/candy
- occasionally I’ll wrap a bigger something, like a Christmas book, and hide it, the advent calendar being the clue. But boy, that is getting elaborate.
- decorate the tree or the mantle or kid’s room or whatever stuff you usually decorate
- read a book (our favorites are the Grinch, Rudolph and the actual Christmas Story)
- movie night by the fire (favs include the Grinch, Home Alone 1 and 2, Elf, Charlie Brown, Rudolph and A Christmas Story)
- listen to Christmas music ALL DAY!
- have dinner by candlelight
- community specific things: parades, tree-lightings, farmers market, etc.
- bring cookies to your local firehouse – especially if they’ve been to your house that year!!
- volunteer together
- flashlight neighborhood walk
- dress up in Victorian garb and carol at your neighbors (Sooo joking!!! I would die.)
- paper snowflakes
- homemade ornament gifts
- paper garlands
- clothespin reindeer
- make gift tags, cards, etc
- decorate the dog with homemade Christmas collars or necklaces or bows or whatever!
- decorate oranges with cloves…so sweet and easy
Alright, we’re off to find a tree! I’m pushing for a flocked one, since we rarely get a real tree. Will the prices quickly dash my dreams? TBD (IT HAPPENED!). Happy holiday season everybody!