The Countdown To Christmas Begins…

Hello all!  The holidays are upon us and I find it such a finicky time of year.  While it’s always exciting and festive, it can be a little overwhelming and all around stressful.  I try to keep such holiday tension to a minimum, but inevitably, some always seems to find it’s way in.

I’m a firm believer in not getting wrapped up (no pun intended) in Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  I refuse to let the retail industry overshadow it – it is a beautiful holiday and I only allow grocery lists – not wish lists – before turkey day.  That being said, I did start a Christmas project early in order to be ready for the Christmas countdown.

Advent calendars have always been a favorite of mine.  I was never given/allowed the types with candy, but it made no difference to me.  Mine were usually sent to me from my Grandmother and Grandfather and were the simple paper style with a picture inside and a scripture phrase on the flap.  It’s amazing how exciting it was to wait patiently each day and imagine what the next little picture behind the door would be.

Taking a cue from one of my favorite traditions, I put together a fun little advent project for the jellybeans this year.  The idea behind this wall-sized advent calendar was giving the girls something to look forward to, a little activity to do and add a little Christmas joy to each day.  A quick trip to the party store and a few internet printouts yielded everything I needed to make a fun day-by-day countdown.

I picked up a dozen red paper gift bags, a dozen green gift bags and 24 items from the party favor section.  There was lots of fun stuff to choose from, it made it so hard to decide!  About $26 dollars and 20 minutes later, I was good to go.  When I got home, I printed out a set of free advent calendar numbers I found on the internet.

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After cutting them out, I placed a piece of double sided tape on each bag (thereby eliminating the need for glue – hooray!) and let the jellybean stick the numbers to the front. Finally, I punched a small hole in the top for a strand of yarn that would be used to keep them closed.

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While they were napping, I printed out coloring pages of Christmas ornaments and cut them out so each day they would have one or two to color and put on the paper tree (also an online printout). A little added bonus was the sweet treat inside; Halloween candy!  We have grotesque amounts leftover, so I put 6 little pieces in each bag; two for mommy, daddy and the older jellybean.  Lastly, the little treasures from the party store topped off each bag.

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Next, I got out one of my most favorite inventions – command hooks!  We rent our apartment, so I’m very wary of putting holes in the wall or using tape that could remove paint & chunks of drywall.  I have no doubt I will still be using these little gems when we finally get a place of our own.  So many things I need to hang are temporary and my needs are always changing.  These hooks meet those demands and have helped me decorate, organize and overall made my life so much easier.  So for this project, I used 24 of the teeny-tiny mini hooks, and arranged them in a christmas tree pattern on the wall.  I hung one bag from each hook and the advent “calendar” was ready!

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I’m so excited to get this daily activity underway and get into the Christmas spirit!  I also hope that this has inspired you to make your own version of an advent calendar or countdown calendar of any kind for that matter.  Don’t feel restricted to just the holidays – I love countdowns to all sorts of events!  Some past ideas that come to mind would be a countdown to a birthday with a different old photograph/memory in each bag, a countdown to a Thanksgiving with a different recipe in each bag, and countdown to a vacation.  I used things like used things like sunglasses, sunscreen, iTunes cards for music/movie purchases, maps of places to be visited, sight-seeing pamphlets and more!

Well, that’s all for now.  It’s time to regroup from Thanksgiving before the hubbub of Christmas arrives.  Best wishes from my family to yours for a happy, healthy and wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas!

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