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  • Handmade Advent Calendar + 24 Holiday Activities

    A few years back we started the holiday tradition of creating and keeping an advent calendar. I love that it encourages us to savor the holiday season, as well as keep us on track in terms of holiday preparations.

    This year we decided to use a magnetic board that we had on hand. We attached rows of twine with magnetic clips on the back of the board (see above) and added 25 little envelopes to the twine using wooden clips. With a touch of colorful red washi tape and a list of advent activities (secretly inserted into the envelopes by me), we are set to go.

    Here are the activities that we have lined up this year (in no particular order)…

    1. Decorate the tree.
    2. Research winter holiday traditions around the world.
    3. Make holiday cards for teachers.
    4. Make pomanders.
    5. Clean out closets and donate winter coats, sweaters, and gloves to families in need.
    6. Listen to holiday music & drink hot cocoa (love this hot chocolate station).
    7. Read favorite holiday books.
    8. Create holiday floating candle jars.
    9. Make twig stars.
    10. Make and hang evergreen wreaths.
    11. Create a fresh batch of holiday hang tags.
    12. Make Great Grandma Bettye’s candy cane cookies.
    13. Have a gingerbread men (via MPMK) baking playdate.
    14. Go for a hike and collect winter items for our nature area.
    15. Research the science, history, and traditions of the winter solstice.
    16. Have a paper snowflake making party.
    17. Purchase a gift for a family in need.
    18. Watch holiday movies.
    19. Make our annual family calendar.
    20. Add a new holiday book to our collection.
    21. Write and create our 2013 resolution ornaments.
    22. Donate food to the food pantry.
    23. Make these easy and beautiful snow globes.
    24. Make popcorn and share stories about Christmas memories

    For more advent inspiration…


    With 10 years of EDU under her belt and a growing family, Mariah Bruehl started Playful Learning in 2008 as a resource for parents and teachers. In 2010 Playful Learning received the Parent’s Choice Gold Medal, and in August of 2011, Shambhala Publications released her first book, Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder. Mariah has an M.S. Ed in Elementary Education and has always been the girl sitting in the back of class thinking about what she would do differently if she was the teacher. Now she is happily working with a team of gifted educators to bring life-changing lessons to children, families, and schools around the world. In her free time she can be found taking long walks, enjoying a cup of tea, or swimming in the Atlantic with her husband and two daughters.


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    1. We also do an advent calendar every year, and some I keep for “every year” while my kids are young, and some I change. That, along with a Jesse Tree, are some of the things my kids love most about Christmas. They are both daily little reminders of anticipation, and I love that we already have traditions even though mine are only 5 & 3!
      Thanks for the list…I needed a few new ideas!
      Sarah M

      1. Hi Sarah – Starting family traditions at a young age makes such an impact. Yesterday, when I saw how excited the girls were about the advent calendar, it made me think that, as a family, we should have more traditions year round. Thank you so much for your comment.

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