Advent Ideas and Fun Seasonal Activities

Tuesday December 1, 2009

Tis the season!  November is so busy, December always seems to sneak up on me.   But we love our advent calendars, so I have to dig out the Christmas stuff in time for the kids to open them up.

We have three different advent calendars in our house, which works works well now that we have three kids.  We’ll be rotating who’s turn it is to do what.

This one is my favorite:
It’s a Kurt Adler Magnetic Advent calendar (I got mine from Constructive Playthings).  Each day contains a small magnetic figure which sticks to the scene, which has a magnetic backing.   The kids loving putting them up and moving them around.

I have another one a friend gave at a playdate Christmas party she hosted several years ago.  The kids loving sticking up the pieces on the felt scene as well.


You might find something similar at Oriental Trading.

We also have an oversized paper advent calendar that was given to us by our neighbors (not sure where to find it).


Lastly, we create our own countdown garland using construction paper.   The kids were old enough to help make them this year.


I like it because it is a very visual demonstration of how long til Christmas.

I wanted to add a little something to the advent tradition.  Opening boxes and sticking figures up is fun, but I wanted to have something special for the kids to focus on each day.

So, I’m making a list of things and each day, when they open the box in the magnetic calendar, there will be a note about something fun or special we will do that day.

Below are a list of ideas I’ve compiled.   We won’t be doing all of them, but you may find some useful.  Some of the ideas I’ve gotten from Kristen at We Are That Family — you may see some more ideas on her list that aren’t included on mine.

Daily Advent Ideas:

  • Send a letter to our Compassion Child – if you don’t have one, consider sponsoring one today!
  • Decorate the Christmas Tree
  • Visit Santa – the Santa at Merrifield Garden Center is our favorite
  • Have dinner by candlelight
  • Make a fort and read Christmas stories in it
  • Go ice skating!
  • Make paper snowflakes.
  • Light a fire and have a family game night
  • Spend time praying for poor people
  • Work on teacher’s gifts
  • Think of ways we can show kindness to someone who needs it
  • Leave little notes of encouragement all over (mailbox, grocery store, park, etc.)
  • Make hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows!
  • Watch a Christmas movie – here’s our favorites – what are yours?
  • Give someone needy $5
  • Put some money in the Salvation Army Bucket (encourage kids to give from their “Give” bank)
  • Buy a gift for someone less fortunate
  • Make cookies
  • Decorate cookies!
  • Deliver Christmas cookies to neighbors
  • Get dressed in jammies and drive around looking for Christmas lights
  • Sing Christmas carols together
  • Go caroling
  • Make something fun – neat printables at
  • Act out the nativity
  • Visit a live nativity  – we like this one
  • Work on memorizing Luke 2:1-20
  • Decorate Gingerbread houses
  • Visit waterskiing Santa (Dec 24th)
  • Attend a Christmas pageant
  • Go see the Festival of Lights at Bull Run
  • Visit the National Christmas Tree and “Pageant of Peace”
  • Visit the Holiday Exhibit at the US Botanic Gardens (tip – go on a weeknight!)
  • Visit the Holiday Model Train Display at Union Station
  • Go see the nutcracker ballet
  • See the special ICE exhibit at the Gaylord in the National Harbor
  • Go shopping for Christmas gifts for siblings — we give each kid $5 to shop for each other at the dollar store
  • Make a Christmas card for someone special
  • Call a grandparent (or other relative) and tell them you love them
  • Make ornaments
  • Give candy canes to someone and explain the meaning behind it.
  • Pick up trash – or put an elderly persons trash can away for them
  • Bring your neighbors newspaper to the front door for them
  • Attend a Christmas party (or host one!)

For all my cleverness, I didn’t have anything planned for December 1, so I went with an easy one:

  • Decorate the kids tree!  (i don’t have anything christmasy up yet, so we will set up a smaller artificial tree we have that the kids can decorate with their kid-friendly ornaments)

As you can see, some activities require planning, some don’t.  Some cost money, many don’t.  If you can’t handle doing 24 days of activities, try doing the 12 days of Christmas, starting on Dec 13th.

Here’s a few links to other advent ideas:

  • Skip to My Lou – I saw her great post as I was putting together mine.
  • Christmas Change – not advent specific but a great site focused on making giving more and spending less
  • Four Week Advent Series – a downloadable program our church is doing that you can do in your home.
  • Family Fun – a great resource for crafty activities and decorating tips

I’d love to hear how you are celebrating the advent season.    Please share in the comments!

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