Merry Advent!

Holiday traditions are so important to me.  Most of my very fond memories from childhood involve one holiday or another.  But Christmas season is my very most favorite time of year!  I want my children to have special memories from the holidays, too.  We make a pretty big deal about Christmas every year at our house.  One of the best ways to build childhood memories is through family traditions.  So we’ve adopted a few different family traditions of our own.  One of our favorites is our advent calendar.

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I bought this adorable little advent box at JoAnn Fabric on the day before Thanksgiving at a ridiculously low price and I’ve had so much fun painting it!  That low price is really important because with 5 children, we live on a tight budget.  This also comes into play when considering what goes into the advent calendar.  I know that most families put little sweets and treats into each day of an advent calendar, but I don’t like the kids to have a ton of sugar.  Also, that many treats for that many children with food allergies is not an inexpensive endeavor.  We think our version is more fun anyway.

img_3629Most of our days have little laminated paper tags like this that have an advent activity typed on them.  I move them around every year to the day that works best for that activity that year.  The children are so excited to wake up each morning and check the calendar to see what the day’s activity will be.  Several days there are “special treats” in the drawer instead – lollipops or candy canes for each, usually.  But we all enjoy the activities more.

Our qualifications for advent activities are that the activities must be generally inexpensive, require little or no preparation, and be easily accomplished, typically with things we will already have on hand.  These are the ones that we do every year:

*Make paper snowflakes – this year we used templates found on Pinterest and hung them around the kitchen when we were finished.
*Take Christmas pictures – we try to get 1 set of good pictures of us as a family done each year at Christmas time.  It doesn’t always work out, but it does more years than not.
*Donate a bike – I save $1 every week all year long to be able to donate a bike to a child in need each year.
*Mail letters to Santa
*Wrap some presents
*Make a Christmas craft
*Make some gifts – we typically make handmade ornaments for family and friends each year, but there are other handmade gifts each year as well.
*Read 4 Christmas books – we have a nice little collection with some great favorites in it.
*Mail Christmas cards
*Mail gifts to faraway family
*Make a snowman – when there is no snow on the ground, the kids have to get creative!
*Donate some food to those in need
*Drink hot cocoa together
*Family solstice dinner – since we don’t get to partake of a lot of the holiday meals we attend, because of our food allergies, we have a big holiday meal for the solstice each year.
*Go see Santa
*Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – always done on Christmas Eve at bedtime!

As you can see, the activities don’t have to be extensive, expensive, or stressful to create a lot of holiday cheer!

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

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