Counting Down to Christmas

Post by Contributing Writer, Emily

This last week we entered into the season of Advent, preparing and waiting for Christmas and the birth of Christ. We anticipate the joyfulness of the season through a multitude of traditions and activities.

As a child, I remember counting down the days until Christmas. My sisters and I would relish in the events that were sure to come each year (St. Nicholas Day, cutting a tree, decorating the house) and we would delight in the events that were unexpected surprises (tickets to the Nutcracker, a trip to the Grotto in Portland).

We spent each evening in our home gathered around our advent wreath, lighting candles, and reading stories and scripture to prepare our hearts and homes for the coming of our Savior.

Over the years I have helped my kids to await in anticipation for Christmas in a variety of tangible ways. A paper chain countdown was a helpful visual reminder when my children were very small. Another year we wrapped all of our Christmas books and unwrapped one to read each evening.  Some years we’ve been given small chocolate calendars to use by family or friends. And other times we have simply set aside a quiet time each evening to light a candle and read a story from the Bible and to talk about our days.

This year my lovely housemate Beth put together a beautiful and simple advent countdown board using clothespins and scrapbook paper.  With most of the supplies on hand, this project cost almost nothing but a little bit of time and creative energy!

  • She took a small board and using rubber cement, pasted a piece of scrapbook paper as a background, trimming as necessary for a nice flush edge.
  • Then she took 25 clothespins that she had also covered with coordinating paper and glued them to the board leaving space between and below to clip little notes into each one.
  • Finally, using decorative cutouts from her paper scraps, on the plain side she wrote activities, events, traditions, or outings for her family to participate in each day.

What I appreciate most about this type of an advent calendar is that it is an item that can be reused for many years to come, but it also allows flexibility to grow with the needs of your family.

Older children can appreciate more days with intentional service opportunities presented to them, quiet reflective activites or time spent as a family in prayer, while younger children may benefit from finding more quiet home-based crafts and activities with a focus in learning and appreciating your family’s traditions surrounding the holiday season.

If you want to incorporate small gifts into this tradition you could leave a riddle or clue on that day’s tag as to where a small gift is hidden. In truth, the choices are limitless on the activities and ideas that could fill your advent calendar.

A few traditions that make it into our advent calendar almost every year:

  • Setting aside an intentional afternoon to snuggle and sing Christmas carols.
  • Baking cookies to share with the neighbors.
  • Donating food to the local food bank.
  • Making paper snowflakes to decorate the windows.
  • Reading our favorite Christmas books.
  • Buying a gift for a child/family from a local giving tree display.
  • Driving or hiking up to an especially snowy place to play and sled.
  • Seeing a local Christmas play/show/ballet/concert.
  • Reading the Nativity Story in a children’s Bible.
  • Making homemade gifts for siblings.
  • Writing letters to distant family.
  • Taking a family photo.

What traditions fill your days each year as you wait in anticipation during the Christmas season?

Looking for ideas to intentionally savor Christmas this year?
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Emily lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Jeremy and their 3 wild and crazy kiddos! She loves reading, running, baking yummy treats for her family, her early morning yoga, walking to the library and all things creative and crafty. She especially enjoys exploring nature with her children and learning side by side with them. You’ll find her chatting about all aspects of life at her blog, Industrious Emily* and also sharing her crafty side through the blog, Life at the Table.

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1 comment to Counting Down to Christmas

  • Love the ideas! I’m doing a countdown this year with the kids I babysit. And writing the story of Christmas -from the beginning- to be read aloud a little each day. It’s a lot of work this year but hopefully next year it will all be easier!

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