Every year I try to find some way to create a sense of anticipation for my children. We don’t do huge gift Christmases in our family, but I want to create for them some of the wonder, longing and anticipation that the Israelites felt, and for some continue to feel, as they awaited the birth of Christ.
My mother and father have an advent calendar that was made by a friend of our family, Mugs Mast. It was a felt based creation but it was fabulous. I had a very small part in the creation of the calendars, as she made several of them that year. I would go to her house once a week to take Recorder lessons. I’d come right off the bus and walk to their house. I’d be greeted by their guard, let into their house compound and make my way into the house. I’d be given a small snack and treat and then climb up to the third floor Arts & Craft studio. We’d craft for a bit, and then I’d have my lesson later on followed by a meeting of our Recorder Ensemble.
I tried twice to imitate that calendar, but with no success. A few times I simply bought the chocolate calendars. And the last two years I’ve done readings, candle lightings and singing in the evenings. My family always did that as many of the nights that we could during Advent. I struggled with this because my husband worked nights and for me, this season has lost much of its magic simply because so much of what I celebrated as family events are ones that I have alone with my children. Not exactly how I pictured!
This year, I was inspired by Queen of Carrots Advent readings which she has a link to in this post.
But I wanted to combine some other elements. For starters I wanted to encourage my children to make this a season of doing the simple. Doing for others. So I have a chart and daily they are to record something they did that day for someone else without prompting. A friend suggested we make short lengths of yarn and every time they do something they place a piece of that yarn in a basket. The yarn will become ‘hay’ and the ‘basket’ a manger. Christmas day, baby Jesus would lay in our offerings to him.
Plus, I know my kids like trinkets, stickers and candy, candy, candy. And I like my kids. So I wanted to give them a small treat daily, the ‘build up the excitement’ part.
What you see is what I created. They are small origami stylized baskets, the instructions are found on this neat website I found while browsing around. I took 12″ x 12″ square scrapbooking Christmas papers, 12 patterns and cut them into 4 – 6″ squares.
I spent $9 at the Dollar store and that bought me enough candy, stickers & loot to fill each pouch for each day of the Advent Calendar, with 4 extras.
I then took QofC’s list and went on Word, clip art’d myself tags for each day. So, they will remove their loot bag in the morning and at night we will do our readings and they will hang up the daily tag at some point in the day.
Oh, and I hung the items on the glass doors using 3-M’s removable hook system. In the shape of Christmas trees… simply because 24 divides up nicely that way!