Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! I love spending the time with family, being reminded daily the birth story of my Savior, giving to others, and in all honesty; I do enjoy getting gifts, too. I’d lie if I said I didn’t. Even though I enjoy receiving these gifts and am thankful for each one of them, I never feel quite as good about receiving as I do about giving. I’m never quite as fulfilled by “stuff” as I am the quality time and memories I share with my loved ones during the holidays. For this reason, JR and I decided to start the tradition of advent last Christmas. We were so excited! Last year, Emma knowingly participated in less than .01% of what we did but it didn’t matter. Memories were made and we had fun doing it! This year we are really excited because Emma is starting to get the hang of it. Emma will begin to understand some of the things we do, although not all of them, and we can’t wait to sit back and enjoy the ride alongside her!
Last year, I looked for an advent calendar and had trouble finding one I really liked and/or paying the prices they asked. I just couldn’t imagine paying that price for something, quite frankly, I could do myself. For FREE. I set out to make my own advent calendar and am proud of it, if I do say so myself. Here is how I went about making it with supplies I already had without spending a dime:
- I love to scrapbook so it wasn’t too hard for me to come up with paper I already had. I used a 12×12 sheet of sparkly green paper. It just screamed Christmas.
- For our rehearsal dinner, we sent out handmade invitations. I had to buy brown paper for this and had quite a bit leftover. I finally put it to good use when making each individual advent box. I measured a trial one to the length I wanted it to be and once I found that size, I used my cutter to duplicate it- 24 additional times. After I finished cutting them, I used a border trimmer to make a more defined cut. I used this same paper to create borders at the top and bottom of our calendar.
- I took each piece of brown paper and used hot glue around the edges. I put it all over the bottom and ¾ the way up the sides with none on the middle, the top of the sides or the top at all. This is where my slips of paper for advent would go each year and I wanted to create a pocket for it. For the border pieces, I hot glued the entire piece of paper before placing it. I measured each piece before placing it to make sure there was even distances between each one.
- The next thing I did was use sticker numbers to label the 25 days of advent. I didn’t have enough of one color so I alternated each day between silver, red, and orange. I really like the way the stickers turned out. I also had leftover holiday letter stickers that I used to make the “advent” sign at the top and the “Merry Christmas” one at the bottom. I love leftovers! It didn’t hurt using some tiny glitter stickers around that, too.
- I had other remaining stickers that were holiday based from my many years of scrapbooking. I put a different sticker on each day, ranging from Christmas trees, to snowmen, to winter attire. and more. I had some extra space on the side at the bottom so I added two more brown pieces of paper with some large Christmas stickers. Voila!
- The final thing I did was hole punch the top middle and run a piece of red ribbon through it to hang. At this time, it’s hanging on the outside of our bathroom door in the kitchen. This way we see it every day and are reminded to do our advent. Last year I put it on the fridge and didn’t like it nearly as much.
Along with our calendar, we had to come up with HOW we were going to do advent. Several people have gifts every day but we are pretty certain that Emma will receive more gifts on Christmas day than she probably should between our families and us. For this reason, we decided that we would develop an advent calendar based on doing and not so much on receiving. Also, for each day we will do a devotional that we have printed off. We keep this in our den near our advent calendar so we can get to it easily each evening. Here are some ideas of what each day holds in our advent calendar:
- Meet and take pictures with Santa
- Cook a special Christmas breakfast
- Bake homemade cookies for the neighbors
- Put together a food box for the food pantry at church
- Visit Speedway in Lights
- Sing Christmas carols
- Mail out our family Christmas letters and pictures
- Decorate the Christmas tree
- Hang a ribbon for our Christmas cards
- Read the story of Jesus’ birth
Friday can’t come soon enough! It’s not too late for you either. You don’t have to have a calendar to do advent. You can just put a list on the fridge. Remember- it’s more about DOING and not so much about anything else. Take the holidays to enjoy the time with your family and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with those you love.
What is your favorite advent tradition?