Counting down to Christmas is always so much fun.. especially for kids. And an Advent Calendar really helps to make that lead-up time to Christmas more tangible, more comprehensible. It also means that you don't have to answer the ongoing question, "How long until Christmas? When can we unwrap all the presents?"
Why use an Advent calendar?
Sure, an advent calendar looks great as part of your festive decorations as you gradually add, day by day, to the finished calendar. It can add to the Christmas fun. It can be used to keep the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Saviour. And, depending on your choice of calendar, it can help your kids focus on the joy of giving and serving others, too.
What do I need to consider when choosing an advent calendar?
Well, there are plenty of commercially prepared advent calendars. Some would make lovely gift ideas for friends or family. Some commercially prepared advent calendars present small gifts for each day leading up to Christmas. Some are simple thin boxes with perforated windows with a hidden recess for a small chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. Others are books with windows or flaps to reveal something of the nativity story as Christmas approaches.
Create a family tradition- your own advent calendar
An advent calendar is even more meaningful if you can make it yourself and personalise it as a family legacy. The treats and activities created for and added to your advent calendar can revolve around the interests, activities and favourite choices of your family.
And you can create variations for each year.
So, here are a number of such suggestions listed below that you might like to consider.
The Dainty Bauble Advent Calendar (find the link for this advent calendar below) is easy to print and create. Use the back of the decoration to either: a. write a Scripture verse on the reverse b.include a fun activity c. provide instructions or clues to find a hidden treat or d. include all ideas.
You might decide to just attach a small wrapped chocolate or treat to the reverse of the decoration. Or you may keep it simple and glue a second copy of the decoration to the reverse for extra strength and durability.
However you decide to personalise it, this advent calendar combines the elegance of the past with the energy and minimalism of the future. It's sure to become a family treasure.
What you'll need:
*Download and print the files for the 25 decorations. (Print onto a good quality card. You might also want to consider a good parchment or linen textured card.)
*silver cording for the hanger and perhaps paper clips.
* double-sided tape and normal tape.
*small Christmas tree that will look attractive on the table or side table.
1. Download, print and cut out each of the 25 advent calendar decorations. Use a good quality card and it looks even better if it has a light texture. Print and cut out a second copy if you intend to back each decoration with its twin. It means that it looks great even if the wind blows the decoration to reveal the back. Leave the back blank if you intend writing something on the back or attaching a small treat.
2. Cut a hole in each tab and thread a small piece of silver cord through the hole as the hanger.
3. If you prefer to have a hanger that's a big more substantial (especially if your kids will be hanging the decorations) you might like to use a paper clip for each decoration. Just tape the paper clip on the back with the loop just visible above the rim of the decoration.
Use a second copy of the decoration and attach on the back to cover the taped paper clip. I used double-sided tape. it's just a bit neater. Sometimes glue can cause the card to slightly buckle. Now slip a piece of thin cord through the loop of the paper clip as the hanger.
4. You don't have to add anything else but if you want, you can write a Scripture verse on the back or a clue to where to find the day's treat. You can also decide on a fun activity for each day: sing your favourite Christmas carol, go out for ice-cream, decorate a gingerbread cottage.. If you don't want to add that info on the back of the decoration, just use slips of paper with the activity or treat written on each piece. Pop all of the papers into a small bucket or container. Your kids can reach in and choose one each day to read and complete.
5. Set up your small tabletop Christmas tree and start adding one decoration each day leading up to Christmas Day. I found an inexpensive tree at Kmart for about $10. There was a lovely natural-looking bare tree at another store but it was expensive. I think you could make something similar with a good sized branch set into a pot of plaster of Paris.
So.. that's about it.... pretty simple... and you can check out the summary slideshow below.
Oh... and you can find a FREE pair of Christmas decorations to download and print for your own Christmas tree. Normally, these vintage-inspired decorations would cost $4.95 but they're free for you to download, print and use. See below.
Here are some more ideas that you might like to consider.
FocusontheFamily has produced a free advent calendar, O Holy Night, plus instructions for an advent wreath.
Download and print the calendar. Then highlight each day leading up to Christmas with a character from the nativity story plus a Scripture reading and devotion. Beginning December 3, your advent calendar builds a nativity scene with the daily characters from the advent calendar.
You'll also find a suggestion for creating an advent wreath to remind your family of God's never-ending faithfulness.
Find it here...
Share the love advent calendar: this resource from iMom focuses on building a legacy of giving with your family.
Each day you'll find sweet and selfless ideas to help your kids experience real Christmas joy through the spirit of giving.
Find it here..
This Christmas countdown is also a puzzle and provides a daily treat and activity idea.
Download the printable calendar. Then use the instructions to create an advent calendar that must be assembled day-by-day to reveal a beautiful Christmas decor piece. On the back of each card, you'll hide a treat and an activity.
Find it here...
This advent pack includes 5 weeks of family devotions that focus on a different carol each week.
There are 5 colouring pages that combine to tell the story of Jesus' birth and the advent calendar with fun family activities.
Instructions for creating and illustrated advent wreath with paper candles complete the fun family advent pack.
Find it here...
Help your family discover the Light of Christmas in a new way!
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...
though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Every year, Christmas seems to arrive in the stores earlier than you expect. Beautiful Christmas displays appear mid-October, Christmas gift ideas fill store catalogues, and glittering ornaments are hung in the specially created Christmas-theme areas.
And that's fine... although I never seem ready for Christmas despite the early reminders and displays. But the Christmas proclaimed in the department stores and shopping centres is not the Christmas that's important to me. And it's not the legacy of Christmas that, by and large, I want for my family. It doesn't reflect the humble stable of the Saviour's birth or the gift of that first Christmas.
The store-bought Christmas is filled with music and joy and fun and feasting and unwrapping endless gifts. I want to help my family unwrap the real joy of Christmas. And I believe that families, like mine, can hear the Christmas story in a new way using creative family-focused devotions.
So I looked at just five such devotional resources and you can check them out, too, below:
So.. first up..
1. All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar
Focus on th Family has produced a beautiful Advent colouring and devotional book. It will help you focus on the anticipation, preparation and celebration of Jesus' birth.
The ongoing enthusiasm for colouring by all ages means the your whole family can be involved.
You'll find beautifully detailed colouring pages with peel-and-stick ornaments, 28 days of faith-filled activities, Scripture readings and an Advent calendar Christmas tree. (You can find a free Advent calendar, too.)
All the Colours of Christmas Advent Calendar.
2. All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Colour your Way to Christmas
Yes... this is another colouring devotional for Christmas. This publication is by Nancy Guthrie. It includes bonus activities, discussion starters, and kid-friendly colouring pages- Christmas ornaments and decorations.
All Is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas
3. Made by Me Nativity
This kit starts by making a great nativity keepsake set. It's included in the kit. But there's so much more...
There are gifts to make and give to friends, family and neighbours. Other faith-building activity suggestions are included: field trips, a Christmas movie makeover and other fun!
And yes, there's more...
Simple kitchen-based mission ideas (cookies, nut baskets, Christmas morning mix) will get your kids up and serving others and discovering Jesus.
Made by Me Nativity
4. Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
Host a kid-friendly Christmas family night with the Christmas Movie Night Kit.
You'll find a read aloud picture book, activities, puzzles and games. The animated Story of Christmas dvd includes sing-along videos of Christmas carols and behind-the-scenes production footage.
Celebrate the real meaning of Christmas with this creative Christmas kit.
Christmas Movie Night Kit for Families
5. Advent Journey Colouring Posters
The birth of the Saviour on that first Christmas was news that was shared. This is a big part of the Advent Journey Colouring Posters, too, sharing the Christmas story with friends, family and the community through colouring.
The posters are big.. supersize. Four of the posters measure 3' x 2' and the other two are even bigger- 6' x 2'. So they are wonderful to colour together in groups. It also offers plenty of opportunities to talk and share together while colouring.
Using these posters requires some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to using them. Sure, you can use them for children's ministry groups or teen groups. You can take them to nursing homes to colour in together. Use them following your Sunday services for your church family to colour and enjoy while having morning tea. Schools may wish to use them. Your family might invite friends over for a colouring evening. There is also an accompanying Advent Journey Devotional Guide. So start thinking now... how will you use these wonderful resources for sharing the Christmas story?
Oh.. and the finished posters make beautiful display posters, perfect decorations for large walls, hallways and even stage areas.
Advent Journey Colouring Posters
Take time to explore the real meaning of Christmas with your family with these creative resources. Explore the events surrounding the first Christmas and learn how this season can bring us hope, love, joy and peace.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
This updated article 'Creating a New Christmas tradition' was previously published November, 2014.
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." -- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Christmas, for most families, is a time of family traditions.
What Christmas traditions does your family hold to and treasure?
When my children were young, our Christmas traditions involved bright Christmas carols playing while decorating the tree, setting up the nativity scene, the advent calendar activities and daily Bible readings, the train trip to the city to view the department stores' animated displays, Christmas in Story & Song at our church and more.
Yes, it was a busy time but, in many ways, it was simple and unhurried. And the emphasis was definitely on the birth of the Saviour.
But times have changed and my kids are grown.
Fun Family Christmas Traditions
Now, as a grandparent, the traditions of Christmas are just a bit quieter. Maybe you're the same. Maybe you're looking forward to celebrating Christmas with a bevy of grandchildren. Hey, there's no reason why your time with your grandkids now can't be every bit as memorable and meaningful as when life was bursting at the seams with Christmas excitement and activity.
But how? What can I do?
But I guess you're wondering how, amongst all the frenetic activity of Christmas can you, as a grandparent, create a family tradition that will emphasise the real message of Christmas?
I was asking myself the same question when I happened to watch the latest clip from the SkitGuys...You can watch it below or via the link: see here.
The Search for the Saviour
The idea is simple: hide the Baby Jesus from your nativity scene and create a set of clues to help your grandchildren find the Saviour. Tailor your clues to the age of your grandchildren. If they're quite small, draw pictures with hints of where to look. Add some simple directional signs- large cards with printed arrows or footprints. Provide more cryptic clues for older kids or use Scripture verses for added levels of difficulty.
But, don't stop there...
Read the Christmas story together
Once your grandkids have found the Saviour, read one of the many wonderful storybooks of the Christmas story. Here's a couple of suggestions with links to where you can find them.
* Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol 3. Award-winning publication for young children filled with simple stories with big illustrations.
*The Jesus Storybook Bible.... where every story whispers His name.
*Jed And Roy McCoy.. One of the Lost Sheep series. A Bible storybook that the whole family will enjoy.
* If you're Missing Baby Jesus.. A true story that will unwrap the warmth of the real meaning of
Also, check out the review of Friends with God StoryBible. I think you and your grandkids will enjoy it.
You may be wondering about other tradition-building Christmas fun
Well, how about
There are so many other fun family ideas for building Christmas traditions.
If you're looking for other ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist.
Begin a new tradition this year with your grandkids that is not only fun, but places the focus on the real meaning of the festive season.
If you're looking for even more ideas, download and use this Christmas activity checklist to make more moments that matter for your family.
Christmas has definitely become commercial and so many people get caught up in trying to find that perfect gift. Buying Christmas gifts can be stressful, especially when you are uncertain of what gifts to buy.
Just going shopping at your local shopping centre provides you with countless gift ideas, the problem is, which to choose. Although there are so many gift ideas that could potentially be the ‘perfect gift’, it is still difficult to make that decision. Of course, it is important to buy a wonderful gift for everyone on your Christmas shopping list. But if you are faced with countless options, you do have an alternative solution.
Christmas gift baskets have become very popular and they are an excellent way of giving someone a variety of gifts. You can even give a gift basket to an entire family, with something for everyone inside.
I like to include fresh flowers in my gift baskets. They add a fresh, soft touch to the designed basket. If you don't like the idea of flowers for someone, you might like to consider including a potted plant or some herbs.
Pre-made Christmas gift baskets are a quick solution, but if you have some time on your hands go one step further. Make your own personalized gift basket. This shows thought and caring on your part and your recipient will just love that you went to all that extra effort.
You can put all types of gifts into your basket from foods, to bath products to hobby and craft supplies. If the person loves cooking why not include some bread, along with recipes, different spices and some kitchen gadgets.
A gardener would enjoy a basket of gardening supplies, possibly a subscription to a garden magazine with seeds and gardening gloves.
Any small spaces in your customized gift basket can be filled with small items. This is where your stocking-stuffer ideas come in. Add pens, socks, chocolates and even a gift card inside. A personalized Christmas decoration is another great idea. They can hang it on their tree for years to come.
If you decide to purchase a Christmas gift basket this year, it can be done at many online specialty stores or even locally in your hometown. Once you start looking for gift basket ideas you will be amazed at how much selection there is. You might just possibly decide to go with Christmas gift baskets every year.
So.... how do you do it? How do you make your own? It's more than just filling a basket with small gifts.
Here's what you'll need:
You’ll need supplies to both make the floral arrangement and fill the basket.
The following slideshow will walk you through the process for creating an amazing gift basket for Chirstmas or anytime you need a special gift or presentation.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ...though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
With this weekly selection of fabulous finds, you'll feel like Christmas has come early. There's certainly plenty of variety, too.
You'll discover FREE December wallpapers for your desktop or mobile devices; handy hints and information to help you create your best gingerbread cottage yet; Make it Happen planner and workbook that does so much more than provide space to list your tasks; an inspirational online course to ensure that this coming year is amazing- 5 Days to your Best Year Ever.
This is an amazing course by Michael Hyatt. I've attended many of MIchael's training webinars and downloaded his ebooks and resources and I've never been disappointed. They are always a quality product that over-delivers in every way. If you want to begin the new year well, then consider this course. You won't be disappointed!
Here's what he says about this online course: 5 Days to your Best Year Ever.
'All it takes is a few hours to make the remaining 360 the best you’ve ever had. The fresh start that everyone hopes for can become an exciting reality for you.
As I personally teach you through video lessons and equip you with resources, we’ll walk through my proven process to help you create a plan to find clarity, motivation, and the step-by-step journey to achievement.
First and foremost, I’ll guide you through a self-discovery assessment that offers powerful personal clarity in finding out what’s most important to you—and how to turn those dreams and realizations into tangible goals.
Believe it or not, it’s really fun—and it’s freeing!Through your lessons, daily workbooks, and action items, you’ll build a precise plan for implementing and experiencing the breakthroughs you deserve. Collectively you’ll find tremendous clarity and confidence to move forward.'
When you phone rings or you recieve a text notification, there's nothing better than a beautiful Christmas image as a wallpaper on your device reminding you of the holiday season.
But sometimes it's not that easy to find something you really like.
So that a few minutes to check out the options from Crosscards. You'll find choices for both your mobile devices or your desktop and they are lovely. It will be difficult to choose.
Don't forget, too, the mobile wallpapers on my Freebies page as another option.
When my kids were young, I attempted a homemade gingerbread cottage from scratch. Mmmm.... while it wasn't a complete disaster, it certainly didn't look like the beautiful designs on Pinterest. But a gingerbread cottage looks wonderful as a centrepiece on your Christmas dinner table.
Kids love to help decorate gingerbrad cottages, too. Fortunately, there are some simple kits available in most stores.
But if you really want to create something special and wonderful, you might like to consider the book, `Gingerbread for Beginners.` The recipes are simple, and delicious, and there are plenty of templates to help you get started plus loads of pictures as inspiration.
I went shopping with my grand-daughter yesterday. We were looking particularly for a planner/diary. While there were plenty available, they were all the same- just lines and times for each day.
Rachael was wanting something that could help her with planning and organising the many different activities she's involved in, not just for school.
And she was looking for something that would help her determine her goals, set the needed steps in place and take action.
That's why the 'Make it Happen' workbook is so special. Here`s what`s included: the Goal Action Ideas, Monthly/Weekly/Daily Tending Lists, Relationship Tending, Cultivating Gratitude, Big Dreams page for big ideas, What Fires Me Up, Things I Want to Learn/Things I Learned, and more!
If you're looking for something more than just a daily list of things to do, check out Make it Happen and start your new year well.
I hope this short list of fabulous finds has really brigthened your day, as it did mine. There's certainly plenty to keep you busy. :) Check them out. I hope to have a new selection of amazing ideas and resources for you next week.
In the meantime, check out the finds from previous weeks below.
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend or link to. If you purchase those items through my links I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I ofttimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere.
Plus, when you order thought my links, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.
I remember Christmas when I was young.
There was so much cleaning, preparation and cooking, and cooking... and more cooking! We were all involved in some way whether it was cutting up the dried fruit, stirring the Christmas cake or pudding mixture or rolling out the sweet pastry for the tarts and fruit mince pies.
And afterwards, somehow or other, we all managed to scamper outside clutching tasty bits of pastry, fruit, biscuit or cake mix.
I loved watching the batches of beautiful Christmas cookies (we call them biscuits in Australia) cooling on trays before being stored in large glass jars or packed between layers of greaseproof paper in shiny, bright tins as gifts.
There were Snickerdoodles, Peppermint Chocolate Slice, Shortbreads, Meringue Kisses, Iced Vo-vos, Melting Moments and Florentines.
And although I'd love to recreate similar memories today for my children and grandkids- the same delicious smells and mouth-watering flavours- I just don't have time.
But maybe, I can create memories that are every bit as sweet for my grandkids without spending hours in the kitchen. And you can, too.
So here's my simple version of Christmas cookies that will take less than 15 minutes to make. And... if my grandson is anything to go by, you'll have them coming back for more.
Here's what you'll need:
* 1 cup of chocolate melts (Use natural chocolate melts if you're looking for a healthy alternative and there are even gluten-free versions.)
* 1 pack of mini salted pretzels (You won't need to use all of the pretzels.)
* 1 pack of mini gingerbread men (If you need a healthier alternative, there is a brand made with wholegrains and sweetened with grape juice rather than sugar.)
* 1 pack of shredded coconut (Again, you won't need the whole pack.)
* ! pack of Christmas M&Ms- the ones with green and red M&Ms
You'll also need a biscuit tray lined with baking paper.
1. Melt the chocolate. (I just popped a microwave-safe bowl with the melts in the microwave 30-40 sec but you may prefer to melt it gently by standing the container of melts over a bowl of hot water and stirring until melted.)
2. Make small circles of chocolate on the tray of baking paper using teaspoonfuls of melted chocolate.
3. Gently push a couple of pretzels, a gingerbread man and a few M&Ms in each chocolate circle.
4. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.
5. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.
6. Gently remove from the tray and arrange on small Christmas plates or platters.
And that's it! Easy! In fact, your kids or grandkids would probably like to help you make these. So go ahead and enjoy some family fun and make some wonderful Christmas memories.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.