This has been one of my favorite Christmas seasons ever. I've been perusing blogs for the past few years getting advent ideas, but my girls were too young to really participate in much, and I just didn't get my act together. This year I started planning in the fall, and we're having a blast!!! I'm not as disciplined as some bloggers, so I'm not going to show you our daily tasks. Plus, I don't have a formal schedule. I just have a list of fun things for us to do....some of them scheduled, some of them not. I wanted this month to have a real focus on Jesus, to truly build up to the excitement of celebrating Christ's birthday. Some of our activities have a clear message attached, but I didn't try to attach a meaning or verse to EVERYTHING. Some things are just fun! Here are a few ideas I found through my research....some of which I hope will be traditions for years to come.
1. We've been using this advent book as our family devotional book in the evenings. My mom made us an advent wreath, and Adeline is learning the themes of each week and hopefully learning more about the Christmas story. The lessons are short. Each contains a scripture reading, lesson, song, and prayer.
2. I've been looking for a Christmas countdown calendar for YEARS! I finally settled on this wooden gingerbread house. It has 24 numbered little doors, and I put a treat (and sometimes a paper telling them about a fun activity planned for that day) in it each morning for the girls to find. It's the first thing they do when they come downstairs. As an added bonus, Adeline is practicing finding two digit numbers...
3. After they find their treat, they usually open this box (which I just bought at Tuesday Mornings for $6!!!). I spent hours reading books from the library, my collection, and my mom's collection to find books that the girls would enjoy/understand and that were not cheesy or conveying a message I don't want them to learn. Most of them have a lesson or tell the story of Jesus, but a few of them like Fancy Nancy's Splendiferous Christmas are just fun. Each book is added to our other Christmas books in a basket by the couch for them to enjoy throughout the month.
Here are a few of our fun activities....
4. Opening presents from Aunt Lisa. There was a misunderstanding with the caregiver at Lisa's house. The gifts Lisa brought at Thanksgiving were intended for the girls to open then, but my parents were told they were for Christmas. So, one morning last week, I let them open the gifts. They were ADORABLE outfits for the girls, and Lisa even picked out an outfit for baby boy with a matching fleece blanket.
5. Making Christmas cookies. We've made three kinds so far. Rock was over one day and helped to unwrap the mints for our special Chocolate Mint cookies.
6. This might be my favorite activity. Adeline had a date with her daddy to see The Nutcracker by the National Ballet right in our hometown! They got dressed up and went to a Saturday matinee. SHE LOVED IT!!! She still talks about it every day, and when I play the Christmas mix on my iPod, she gets excited every time a song from The Nutcracker plays.
7. The girls made gingerbread houses. I was definitely thankful for the one-to-one parent-to-child ratio for this task! Camille got tired of it after a while when we wouldn't let her eat ALL the candy, so hers has a few less details than Adeline's. So sweet....Adeline wanted to decorate a tree to add to Camille's house when she was done with hers. Adeline really loved this activity. She told me where to put the icing, and then decided not to follow the picture on the box. She creatively placed the candy on her own. She did a GREAT job!
8. I don't do many crafts with my girls, but this idea is great on so many levels. I traced their handprints onto green paper and cut out several. Since we are focusing on Jesus and being more Christlike this month, whenever the girls do something that Christ would want them to do, I write their deed on a handprint, and they get to tape it to our wreath. It's only week two, so I think we may need to add some berries and a bow when the wreath is full.
9. This is the nativity that I played with for HOURS as a child. I took a picture of it as I found it tonight. It seems the animals are having a pow wow in the barn, and baby Jesus is languishing in the tundra somewhere by the couch. Anyway, it has been fun to have them act out the story some mornings as I read one of our books. Camille has formed a strange attachment to Mary. She gets excited whenever she sees Mary in one of the books and can frequently be found carrying her around the house.
10. Family Movie Night. I read so many great reviews on this movie, and I add my hearty recommendation. It is SO cute and true to the Christmas story. At about 25 min long, even Camille can make it through this one.
I hope this post makes up for the fact that I haven't been blogging much lately. You can see, we've been busy! I'll try to post more of our activities through the month, but I'm mostly trying to soak up every minute....