House For Six


Our [DIY] Advent Activity Calendar...With Free Printables!

Deme Crinion2 Comments
Welcome to December!  I'm not quite sure how we landed here, but my pumpkins are looking awfully out of place.  I'm trying my best not to get swept up in the hustle and am taking my sweet time decking our halls....or undecking them from fall?  Basically, I'm feeding my inner procrastinator.

Right now my living room looks like the zone of a throw down between the Pilgrims and Santa's elves.  The bins of Christmas decorations are halfway unpacked and the fall bin is only partially packed up. I'll get to the pumpkins eventually, but not before we set up our favorite Advent tradition!
DIY Advent activity calendar

I literally pulled this together in 20 minutes this morning.  I know there are super cute and fancy ones out there, but if you're not in the market for one or want to try your hand at creating your own, let me just encourage you to go for it.

They can be as creative or simple as you like.  Heck, you can even just tape the activity for each day on the fridge.  The fun and beauty of these are not in the setup, but in their purpose.

The number one reason I love an Advent activity calendar is that by choosing certain activities for each day I can really shape our Advent experience as a family.  If I feel like we're getting a little too caught up in the marshmallow topped cocoa and growing Christmas lists, then I can add in a few service activities or something that will redirect our focus back on the manger.

I was able to make ours using mostly supplies I had on hand (old frame, twine, Sharpies, envelopes), and found the sweet clothespins and notepad at the Target Dollar spot.

What you'll need...
DIY Advent activity calendar

What to do...
DIY Advent activity calendar
I liked the way 5 across looked.

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I chose to use envelopes for our calendar, but you really can use socks as mini stockings, small bags, or even just a folded piece of paper.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

I could only find one package of these green buffalo check clothespins...
DIY Advent activity calendar I spruced up some plain ones with red stripes using a Sharpie.
DIY Advent activity calendar

I needed a spot where the baby wouldn't get to it, so I pulled up a small bench next to the piano and called it good.
DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

DIY Advent activity calendar

Except that she totally got to it anyway..
DIY Advent activity calendar

This list continues to grow, but here are some of our favorite activities from year's past....

-Bake holiday cookies
-Deliver baked goodies to neighbors
-Wrap gifts
-Watch a holiday movie with popcorn and hot cider
-Clean out closets and gather donations
-Adopt a family through the giving tree
-Visit a live nativity
-Go to a holiday concert
-Take a horse and carriage ride through downtown
-Make cocoa to-go and drive to see the Christmas lights
-Say a family rosary or decade
-Make handmade cards to mail to family/friends
-Pick out a Christmas tree
-Decorate the tree
-Build a snowman
-Shovel our neighbor's sidewalks
-Make something special for the postman
-Take family pictures
-Address Christmas cards
-Go out for ice cream
-Help decorate the inside of the house
-Help decorate the outside of the house
-Holiday craft night
-Go sledding
-Have a sleepover by the Christmas tree (usually on Christmas Eve for us)
-Visit friends at a nursing home
-Take food down to the local foodbank
-Serve at a food pantry
-Write someone a thoughtful note and deliver it
-Write a letter to Santa/St. Nick
-Read your favorite Christmas books
-Deliver gifts to your teachers
-Have a dance party to your favorite holiday tunes
-Make a birthday cake for Jesus
-Write a note/draw a picture for your pastor

I made a couple of blank templates you're welcome to download to write down your own activities (seen below).  Just click on the color link below the image for a free printable version.
DIY Advent activity calendar

Tips for success:

-Never seal your envelopes (or whatever you're using to hide the activity paper).  If something unexpected comes up or you want to move a certain activity to another day when the weather will cooperate, you want to be able to do that without tearing apart your calendar. #askmehowIknow

-Look at your family calendar when planning events.  If the kids have a Christmas concert through their school, or another holiday event already scheduled, I include those as part of our activity calendar.  I write down the event and slip the paper into the scheduled day.  All others I wait to put in the envelope until the night before (see above).

-Have a few backups.  We can include "build a snowman" but that obviously depends on the weather.  Having a few similar activities as a backup will help you avoid scrambling.

-Keep school days easy.  Since there's still homework and regular work schedules, we save the bigger activities for weekends and Christmas break...which also allows us to build up to the big celebration.

It's an easy tradition that we've all come to love!  Does anyone else do an Advent activity calendar?  What are some of your favorite activities?  What other traditions do you look forward to during this time of year?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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DIY Advent Wreath

Deme Crinion2 Comments
We've never had an Advent wreath and every year it's on my holiday to-do/acquire list. Then, somehow the season slips by with nary a purple candle in sight.

So this year....this year!  I would do it and do it before Advent started.

Then, I couldn't find purple or pink candles at the craft store....and my wreath was too high and close to the wicks for the candles I did get...and the makeshift platform we constructed to raise them up wasn't exactly "stable".

I was tempted to run right back out to the store, but decided to make do with what I had at home.  We ended up with something a little non-traditional, but we've enjoyed it's light at dinner every night (even though it was a couple of days into Advent before I finished it).

This project was far too simple to rate a tutorial, but here's the basic idea....

platter + greens + candles + pink/purple

I ended up using this (plastic) silver plate that I had under our too-big wreath as a base, but any plate or serving platter will do.  I think a cake stand could also be awesome.
When James trimmed the lower branches off our tree, I snagged up those trimmings and started tucking them around/under the candles. 

I couldn't find pink and purple candles at the store, so I grabbed something in those colors that I could add to a white candle.  I loved these mini ornaments, but you could use anything....colored ribbon, a scrapping embellishment, a strip of paper with washi tape, or you could even paint-dip the lower half.
Just to keep things from getting too blinged out, I used some natural twine to tie on the bulbs.

The kids love taking turns lighting and blowing the candles out each day and it's become a little spot of serenity in the house for me too....if I ignore the breakfast crumbs on the table and under my feet.

This little project was a good reminder that things don't have to be expensive or elaborate to be special.  I can easily get wrapped up with a vision for something, but whenever I'm forced to use what I have, I usually end up just as happy with the results.  Maybe even more so knowing that I didn't spend more money to bring it together.   

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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