We have been doing this for two years now, but it is SO FUN! The kids love it and look forward to it with great anticipation. We started this tradition when we moved to Spokane, probably mostly because I had time on my hands when we first moved here and thought this would be a fun idea, little did I know it would be enjoyed year to year!
If you want a few pictures of what we've done in the past... I did blog about this briefly last year... but here I will give you the full list of ideas we use and give you a few hints about how we pull it off.
Hint #1: PLAN ahead. Which is why I am posting this now. It's hard to do something every day, even the necessities, like
Hint #2: Be flexible. The first year I planned the whole month and put numbered days on the little tokens they pulled out. DON'T DO THIS. Some ideas are easier than others, so if you've had a crazy day, you might pull off Sparkling Cider night, rather than Making Gingerbread Houses night. Also, I put the "funner" activities on the weekends so we have daddy around to
Hint #3: This follows be flexible, but I also say, keep it a surprise as long as you can.... so you have the ability to change the plan if needed. For example, if we were going to go look at Christmas Lights but a blizzard blows through, we switch to Cocoa and Carols... you get the drift, but I made so many mistakes and had sad kids a few times the first year....
Hint #4: Be creative with how you tell the kids what each day is. This year I am going to try to do it Advent Calendar Style but I don't know how yet...I'll probably Pinterest it. We do have green and red popsicle sticks that say each of the events (written with a Sharpie, nothing fancy)...but I haven't found the best way to have them pick those sticks out. I promise to keep you posted on this part, or if you have ideas, please share! (We have completely eliminated the chocolate advent calendars because there's really no need if you are doing this every night - plus, you'll see, there's more than enough sugar involved with our list - add or subtract the treats as you see fit for your fam!)
Ok, so here's our list.... no need to use all these ideas, make up some of your own, but this will hopefully get you started!
Countdown to Christmas:
1- Kids decorate rooms with lights/decorations
*Hint: This often keeps them occupied while I do the main area decorations, it's fun for all!*
2- Movie Night
a. Miracle on 34th Street
3- Craft or Sugar cube castle
*Hint: Last year we made their teachers gifts on this night*
4- Make Christmas Cards
a. Make pieces in advance
*Hint: We did this year one and it was CRAZY, but year two they helped me pick out the Christmas card on Costco's photo page and we picked which picture to put on it, simple but still fun*
5- Sparkling Cider with Dinner
*Hint: We do table cloth and wine glasses for all on this night, really fancy is fun!*
6- St. Nick Night (which I believe is December 6th, but you'd want them to leave their shoes out on Dec 5th...this is cute and I like the story of St. Nick a lot better than Santa :))
a. research and other cultures…told story of St. Nick
b. we did one book for each kid in their shoe and a healthy snack
7- Snowman Night
a. white donut snowmen (look on my Pinterest page for picture of this)
b. decorate table with snowmen napkins, etc.
8- EGG NOG
9- Ice Cream Night
*Hint: We do hamburgers on the grill and peppermint milkshakes
10- Game Night
a. tree brownies (on my Pinterest page)
11- Tell Christmas Story with costumes
*Hint: This was a HUGE HIT!! The kids LOVED it and did so well*
12- Sing Carols and drink cocoa
13- Dollar Store Christmas Shopping w/ the kids
a. for one another
b. for relatives
14- Red and Green Night
b. 7-Up w grenadine
c. pasta (fun shapes) with pesto sauce or red sauce
*Hint: World Market is where I found Christmas-shaped pasta*
15- Birthday Party for Jesus
16- Dinner out and Alena’s Program
*Hint: Obviously this was specific to us, but you probably will have at least one kids program in your holiday season and can make it into the "special event" for the countdown
17- Gingerbread Houses or Nativity Houses
*Hint: Holly's idea posted to FB
18- Drive around to see Christmas lights
19- Make popcorn balls
20- Wrap Gifts
21- Slumber party by the tree
22- Make sugar cookies
23- PJ Night
a. new pjs!
*Hint: We're going to change this up since my mom always gets them pj's on Christmas Eve, my idea was getting them a new pillowcase or something like that...but for me, I want it to be something that gets them excited about bedtime....as I know the next few days will be full.
24- Christmas Eve
One day we'd like to go Ice Skating as a fun event, but we're waiting until everyone's a little older...maybe next year! And we'd like to add a service project too... So, I'm sure you all have lots of things going through your mind now - add them to personalize this countdown to fit your family and age of kids...but this will get you thinking! Enjoy and MERRY CHRISTMAS!