I’m a huge fan of Christmas and over the years have concocted plenty of random and alternative ideas for advent. They sometimes leave my husband rolling his eyes, I think if he got his way we’d be right back to a chocolate advent calendar bought half price on Dec 2nd. Anyhow, I thought I’d share some alternative ideas for advent if you are lacking in inspiration. Disclaimer – if any of these are going be massively stressful and feel like another to-do then just go simple. As parents we have enough to do at this time of year and the point is to create happy moments but not at the expense of our sanity. And definitely no guilt, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good old fashioned paper door to open!
O.k so if you’ve got time on your hands (?) then there’s the option to create a DIY calendar. One year for us this meant buying a set of Peppa Pig characters second hand off Ebay and wrapping up each figure individually before popping them into 24 little paper bags (alternating with the odd chocolate too). This actually was part of her Christmas present (she got the house from Santa) and it went down an absolute treat. Prep wise though it was pretty intense and as a result we’ve never done it since – ha.
Another option if you have creative kids is to buy an advent craft book with 24 mini projects that they can do (lots available if you search online). We did this last year and it worked o.k but in hindsight it was much better for the older ones (ours were 8.6.4) as it required A LOT of parental time investment that we didn’t have!!! If you do have younger kids and want something a little easier you can also buy colouring books with 24 different Christmas pages to colour- which are a really nice idea.
If you’ve tried Elf on the Shelf but want an alternative option then Kindness Elves are a good spin. They turn up each day in December with a little challenge or activity for the day ahead all based around doing nice things for other people. Check out The Imagination Tree who I believe first shared this idea a few years ago.
And then here’s the one we come back to time and again – we fill 24 little bags with challenges, games, treats and kindness tasks. They range from baking for neighbours, through to going out and seeing the Christmas lights in our jammies (this is an ALL TIME favourite). I’ve included a list of the 24 tasks we have done below. It’s something our kids talk about every year, it’s never really let us down and since we already have the bags (and most of the tasks) created that part is fairly easy.
However, one thing we are constantly working on as a family is reducing down the busy ness. We want to simplify our lives even more, be more present, have more quality time together. We both work and with four kids it is hectic and the activities in the list above can become a lot to manage so this year we are mixing it up again and some of the bags will contain talking points. Things to chat about over dinner / breakfast, they’ll take it in turns to read them and there are some days when they can make one up too. Of course this will only work with slightly older children but I’m hoping that for those days when doing something like baking just isn’t possible this will do the trick. And it should also help with listening skills and team work and consideration for others, all stuff we are always trying to encourage.
So if you are looking for an alternative idea for advent that doesn’t involve getting STUFF, then you’ll find the prompts for these below.
24 Advent Bag Talking Points:
- Make a Christmas playlist and turn it up loud – who can do the best Santa dance?
- How many Christmas songs can you name and sing? Win a sweet for every song.
- What’s your favourite Christmas film and why? We will then plan in to watch each one during December.
- Tell us a Christmas joke
- Would you rather be a reindeer or a Christmas elf? Create some other “would you rather” questions
- If you were in charge, what new tradition would YOU start at Christmas?
- YOU CHOOSE – ask everyone a question
- What would your Christmas super power be?
- If you could only buy one present for someone else, what would it be and who would you give it to?
- If I was Father Christmas I would….
- How many Christmas books can you name and which is your favourite? Read each persons choice that night
- Describe and then draw your ideal Christmas dinner
- What’s better, Christmas or your birthday? Why?
- ‘Elf yourself’ app on the computer (does it every stop being funny??)
- Can you write a 100 word story relating to Christmas?
- Make a mini film to send to Great Grandparents telling them what you’ve been up to in December (could be a picture or letter)
- Challenge – Can you make up a short Christmas puppet show?
- Write Christmas cards tonight
- Record each person talking about what they have enjoyed so far in December and what looking forward to about Christmas
- Call a family member and do some carol singing down the phone
- Kids TV Christmas quiz – if you get all 10 questions right you win a prize
- Look through the Radio Times and circle everything you’d like to watch this Christmas
- Can you make up a Christmas poem? Or can you find one you like online and read it out?
- Track Santa together
24 Advent Bag Activities:
- Watch a Christmas film in your jammies with hot chocolate
- Go for a scoot round the local area delivering cards
- Choose some toys you no longer need and take them to the charity shop
- Write letters to Santa
- Visit Santa
- Go out after bedtime in the car to see the Christmas lights on the houses nearby, we also took a few cards to pop in letterboxes of our favourites to say thank you for making us smile!
- Elf yourself
- Go and buy or get the Christmas tree out
- Put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house
- Decorate your own bedroom with fairy lights and decorations
- Write Christmas cards
- Visit a food bank and take some supplies to donate
- Bake for your neighbours or friends
- Write a special thank you card for someone who helps you every day
- Have a big Christmas book read
- Plan a treat for Mummy or Daddy (whichever) getting home from work
- Shhh, could you write special Xmas cards for your Mummy and Daddy
- Write down something you love about each member of your family, pop them in a jar and pull them out to read over tea time
- Track Santa (norad)
- Have a great big family Christmas dance
- Buy some bird seed and make bird feeders so they don’t get hungry in the cold
- Go and sing some carols for your elderly neighbours or friends
- Go to a Christingle (or any other Christmas event)
- Do your Christmas eve traditions!
I’d love to hear about what you do for advent, let’s share on the FB group. And please do tag me on Instagram #guiltymothersclub #guiltymotherschristmas so I can share that way too!