3

Christmas Advent Calendars

I love Christmas countdown traditions.  From easy ones like paper chains, to elaborate homemade countdown items.  This post will look into some Countdown Ideas that will help children, old and young, anticipate that special day.

Missy's Advent Calendar

 Muffin-Tin Advent Calendar

My dear friend Missy Glancy, put this one together for our Relief Society Super Saturday Activity (it’s a gathering where woman from our church sit down and make homemade items).  It’s basically a muffin tin in which you can insert small gifts or slips of paper listing activities that you and your children can do together that day.  You cover each tin with a piece of decorated card-stock, and those papers are held onto the tin with a small magnet.

Missy said that this is a very easy set-up.  She puts in some big activities (going to see the lights) and some small ones (reading a Christmas story or watching a Christmas movie).  If one day they are not able to do an activity that they had planned, she can switch it out for an simpler one.

A Stocking Countdown Calendar

Disney's Family Fun Advent Idea

For this next one, I turn to Disney’s Family Fun Magazine.  Their idea is quite festive and fun – if you can find the right socks. 😉  You basically fill a sock for each day until Christmas with a treat, small present, or activity.  These socks are hung with clothespins across a piece of yarn, twine, or small rope.

The magazine also presented some fun stocking ideas for each day –

  • “Get Out of Chores Free” or “Pick a Movie Rental” cards — each good for one use!
  • A puzzle distributed in pieces among the socks; kids can put it together over the course of the month
  • Trading or sports cards
  • Special coins such as foreign currency or a silver dollar — chocolate coins are always a hit too!
  • Music or other gift cards
  • Jokes or riddles (stick the punch line in the next day’s sock; see AZKIDSNET.COM for ideas)
  • A game (a Mad Libs or Sudoku a day)
  • Art supplies, such as a mini paint kit and pad
  • A special ornament to add to the tree
  • A new pair of socks. 

You can see the full article here. 

Paper Chains

Simple Paper Chain

This can be as simple or elaborate as you wish it to be.

Instructions –

  1. Cut up 24 pieces of paper (red and green construction, beautiful wrapping paper, crafting paper that matches your Christmas theme, or even beautiful Christmas ribbon).
  2. Wrap the first one into a circle and secure the ends together with tape or glue.
  3. Insert the next paper through the first and secure the ends of that link together.
  4. Continue with all of the papers until you have a paper chain.
  5. You can hang it horizontally across a wall or vertically by a door.
  6. Cut off one chain each day until Christmas.

You can do the following to “spice it up” if you’d like, or leave it as simple as the chain –

  • Write an activity on the papers (do this before you begin to link them).
  • Make a treasure hunt out of them.
  • Write a Christmas poem on the links.
  • Choose a person to contact (letter, phone call, card, etc.) or serve each day.  Write their name on the chain links and have fun with your family doing (RAKs) random acts of kindness for a new person each day.

Mom's Advent Calendar

Wilhelm Family Advent Calendar

When we were little, my Mom made this calendar at a RS meeting.  I have such fond memories of it.  We’d pin the little sequinned felt ornaments on the little tree, starting with a star on the first and Santa Claus on the twenty-fourth.  Then a couple of years ago, my mom gave each of us (each of her four children’s families) an advent calender that she had handmade.  She said that she couldn’t get the little sequins on the calendar any other way but by hand sewing each piece.  It was one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received.

The great thing is, I can incorporate any of these ideas in those little pockets for my family.

Other Family Countdown Traditions

Chocolate Advent Calendar

We love the German Advent chocolate countdown calendars.  Each day you pen a door and find a piece of lovely chocolate inside.  When I was a young girl, we lived in Germany and my parents bought each child a Chocolate calendar.  I remember having a friend over and for some reason, we were hanging out in my brother’s room.  She and I ate all of my brother’s calendar chocolate. There is something much more satisfying (surprisingly enough) to savor these each day, rather than gobbling the whole calendar of stolen chocolate in one sitting.

My girls love these calendars and I even buy one for my husband each year.  The women at his work tease him, “What are you five?”  but, as I said before, countdowns are about helping children, both old and young look forward to that special day.

What do you and your family do to countdown to Christmas?

Advertisements
0

Halloween Costumes

Moms who make costumes for their kids are fantastic! We were at a Halloween fun run this morning, and a Mom had made Minion costumes for her children. Wow!

20111022-122246.jpg

What costume ideas have you found?
Any favorite costume memories from childhood?

Also, just a note, the fun run was hosted by my sister and brother-in-law to help raise funds for an adoption. Visit them at their website here.

What a creative way to have a fundraiser!

2

Book Review : Fanny, by Holly Hobbie

I fell in love with this book, about a little girl (Fanny) who wants a “Connie” Doll – (they’re all the rage) but her Mom says, “absolutely no!”  Which prompts Fannie to make her own doll.  Then her Mom gets her a sewing machine for her birthday and she makes a bunch of clothes for her doll,  Annabelle.  The heroine is inventive and ingenious, despite the fact that her friends don’t understand why she doesn’t have dolls like theirs or why she got a weird sewing machine present.

I love that it teaches creativity and a mother’s belief in her daughter.

When I was young, for whatever reason, my mother believed in me.  She would ask me to be creative and have me do all sorts of things for the family: from decorations for the holidays, to writing plays, to costumes.  She encouraged me and helped me to believe that what I did was special and unique.  The work was always flawed, but her belief in me was genuine.

Perhaps that’s why this book resonated so much with me.  To tell you the truth, the story-line that I gave you was only a small part of

the book, but it was the part that I empathized with.

I think that it is so important as a parent to find out what our children are interested in, or have a natural talent for and do what we can to help them naturally succeed at it.  Not by pushing them or coercing them, but allowing them to have opportunities to develop their gifts and talents and giving them support and encouragement along the way.

Interestingly enough, Holly Hobbie, the author also wrote the Toot and Puddle series, and did the Holly Hobbie series  that was so popular when I was a child.

0

The Christmas Present – Barbie Dresses

The Elizabethan outfit.

The Elizabethan outfit.

So here is the beautiful dress that I made for my daughter for Christmas.  I love it, but it was a lot of work.  I was going to do this project with three other women, but we each finished one dress and were done.

Here is the one that my sister made –

The Magical Fairy Dress
The Magical Fairy Dress

My daughter seemed to love this one more than the one that I made for her – ugh!  It is lovely.  I give my congratulations to my Sister who said that she couldn’t sew. This proves that determination, perserverance, and a little imagination can work wonders.

I do plan on making some more.  It was a rewarding project.  Here are some things that I liked about it.
The patterns weren’t too expensive (varies in the $5-$20 range).  You can get doll patterns from most sewing stores (in their pattern catalouges) or from the websites of the major pattern companies – Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, etc.  The website that I really recommend is – http://momspatterns.com/home. She has a lot of beautiful vintage Barbie patterns that are out of stock.
Another thing that I liked about the project was that I didn’t have to buy a lot of expensive material. I simply cut up old dress-ups that my daughter had but was unable to wear any more (such as the lovely maroon party dress that got a gob of gum down the front.)  The material is wonderful and because the Barbie is smaller (dur!) I can reuse a lot of the fabric.
The dresses became easier once the initial learning period was over.  We didn’t do more at the time because Christmas is a silly time to take on huge projects with so many other things going on!

I love the lace trim on this one.