Before we had a kid, we never really followed any advent tradition. We did buy a chocolate advent calendar, and hubby and I would take turn each day to get our daily pick... until we would forget about it and finish it in one go days after Christmas. But we never really had any "symbolic" traditions (such as lighting candles) per se.
It is only for the past 2 years now that we are setting little advent surprises each day of December, triggering a certain level of stress throughout November in order to find 24 meaningful, yet useful, yet cheap little things to be placed in little numbered paper envelopes. We also discovered the quest of hiding the bag and other presents in an apartment which has no secrets to a toddler (hint: aim high). This year we even made it wilder, as my son is now fully aware that Santa Claus is coming to town: his Christmas bear (kindly brought to our life thanks to Kinder chocolate and Migros), Santa's little buddy, has been delivering the daily surprises while playing tricks around the house.
I almost lost my mind between all the marketing around advent calendars and all the options available in toy shops and even regular supermarkets: while I have nothing against a little chocolate, all the Playmobil, Legos and other brands surfing on certain obvious trends (Cars, Batman, Frozen etc...) made me grind my teeth.
A lot of plastic, a lot of small pieces that will be lost/trashed/eaten/stuck in your toes in the middle of the night, and another layer of presents that might not be appreciated just before the Christmas frenzy (let's be honest, how many small children will patiently wait each day to open all windows by the rule?). I am even not talking money here, but I spotted some boxes for at least 30-40 CHF...that will end up in the trash.
(yes I can sometimes be a party pooper, with a smile and a Christmas sweater)
I was therefore delighted to discover another way to create an advent calendar which doesn't involve "getting things" but "doing things": instead of buying someting material, plan a Holidays-flavoured activity with your child(ren) and enjoy the experience and family time.
My friends Sara and Abbi have created such a creative plan of activities for their kids that are more-or-less the same age as mine, that I will surely use as an inspiration next year. They involve simple things that can surely make little and big ones happy: baking, going to see Christmas lights, doing crafts...valuing time spent together.
Both have also included caring activities, for example "baking cookies to neighbours", "pick 3 toys to give to charity", "create bird ornaments"...and doing crafts re-using various items (look at this amazing toy soldier wreath, before and after its Christmas-green paint coating!)
Inspiring and yet simple, right? What did you prepare this year for your little ones?
Labels: Sara - Gallery: Abbi Thirion (click on pics to make them bigger)