More than a countdown

Ever since my eldest two could wield a pair of scissors safely, the children have spent the last weekend of November making advent calendars for each other.

It usually starts with names being pulled out of hats to decide who’s calendar each of them will make.  This year the two older girls wanted to make one for each other. Not a problem, I made one for youngest son, who had no interest in joining in. Despite my bribery attempts. Far more fun, running around, pretending to be a “rhino plane”, although he did do a little of the painting.

Apart from it being a fun crafting activity for the children, the reason I introduced the activity in the first place, was to encourage them to think about what someone else might like. They also experience the joy of making something for someone else that they love. Does it work? Yes, the girls were inseparable this weekend and played without a single argument, joining their brother in.

As we sat round the table, cutting up last year’s Christmas cards, we chatted about the best parts of the celebrations. Decorating the house was high on the list, along with all the preparation running up to the big day. Receiving presents was big, but the memory of previous years family activities were talked about the most.

The craft activity takes a while, with breaks in between:

  1. Wait around while supervising adult remembers where she put the old Christmas cards
  2. Choose and cut up said cards, without your sister seeing which ones you have chosen. (slip interesting Christmas cards in her general direction in the hope she will use them)
  3. Wait around while supervising adult finds large enough paper to take all the cut out images.
  4. Paint front of advent calendar.
  5. Wait around while supervising adult finds glitter.
  6. Wait for calendar to dry
  7. Mark up calendar to show where the windows will go. (edited: mark up the front sheet, on the painted picture)
  8. Wait around while supervising adult cuts out windows with very sharp knife.
  9. Stick on pictures
  10. Number windows
  11. Wait around for 1st December.

The boiler at school broke down, so no school today. It gave the girls a chance to do the final glueing and labelling.

They are ready to go now. Each of the girls is excited about giving their calendar to their sister. Can I bottle this up and save it for one of those hard parenting days.

(aside: I encourage them to use glitter for this project. Usually other way round. As a child, I always had those advent calendars with no chocolate, lots of glitter and pictures depicting the Christmas story. Not sure if you can get them anymore. )

28 thoughts on “More than a countdown

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Oooh how lovely, what clever girls you have!
    I always had a choc free advent calendar as a child and I recently (in the last year or two) saw them for sale at an Armitages garden centre.
    Evie has a non-choc calendar too but that was a freebie in her Dr Who Magazine.
    Em xxxxxx

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 1:41 am

      Garden centres are always a good bet. If we didn’t make our calendars, I would be tempted by a Dr Who calendar. Lucky Evie.

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 1:04 am

    I am so doing this! And yes, you can still buy the glittery, no chocolate ones. They’re made in Germany. Our local stationary store carries them every year. I love them, but I’ve always wanted to try a home-made one, and you’ve inspired me. If you’re interested, Julia from IslandHome Blog posted the brandy butter icing recipe in my comment’s box. Feel free to copy it if you want.

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 1:46 am

      Yes, mine were from Germany. Beautiful. I’d love to see how a homemade calendar would turn out from your creative space. Amazing, I’m absolutely sure!

      I’ll head over to check out the recipe. Sounds good, but maybe not one for the children!

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    These are just beautiful!!! I just love them!!! All the green and glitter and christmas pictures… and did I say glitter!!! Love them!!!

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks, se7en. It is the one project of the year that deserves breaking out the glitter. The girls look forward to doing this project each year.

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    How lovely that they made one for each other. x

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      They really do enjoy giving each other the calendars that they have made.

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    The calenders are lovely – what a nice idea, and I saw in a previous post you are also reading Ollie’s Ski Trip – we are also loving that one right now (once Sofie got over the fact that Ollie went off with a stranger without telling his mum!).

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      Children going off with mythical characters is a bit of a theme in these books. We still love the series and the illustrations are fantastic. Its worth having the books just for the pictures. Enjoy your skiing.

  • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    What a beautiful idea for your family to be involved in. I love the way you are teaching you children that Christmas is about the spirit of giving. They will never forget these lovely time they had together with each other and you.
    Have a lovely day,
    Anne xx

    • Wednesday 1 December, 2010 at 11:12 pm

      Thanks Anne. I hope they do have fond memories in the future. I hope as they grow older that we’ll be able to build on this learning. We’ll see.

  • Thursday 2 December, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Wow, those calendars are amazing. What a great project this is and how sweet your girls decided to make them for each other!

    • Thursday 2 December, 2010 at 7:00 pm

      Thanks Luciana. This year, they really embraced the idea of making and giving the calendars to each other. It really warms my heart to see them grow in this way.

  • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    LOVE this idea too! I grew up with the same Adent calendar that you are talking about but I have yet to buy that kind for my girls. Instead, because I can’t find an inexpensive one that I remotely like, we have not started this tradition yet. But this would be so great and so much fun! Would you mind if I posted this on the blog as an entry into the December Month’s challenge?

    • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      Started working on this already! Sam loved working on her cutting by cutting up old Christmas cards and it was really fun for me to look back at all the old pictures and notes from people. Have to say that with the amount of photo cards we get there weren’t a lot of plain cards with Christmas images to choose from!

      • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 7:21 pm

        We have used old Christmas magazines and preloved wrapping paper to cut out Christmassy pictures, in the past. I am a hoarder! One year they drew pictures. Yet again we use what we have on hand. Glad you are giving this a go. Have fun!

    • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      I’m so glad you like the idea. So simple, but those are the ideas that often work the best. I would be honoured to be included in the December Month’s challenge.

      • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 9:43 pm

        Tried. Failed. But blogged it anyway!! Thanks for the great idea. We just don’t have the crafting skills. HA!

        • Friday 3 December, 2010 at 10:28 pm

          I don’t think you failed. I’ve made lots of mistakes with this project over the years. It looks like you had fun and I love your painting. I’m sure Sam will think it was time well spent!

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  • Wednesday 20 November, 2013 at 4:18 am

    What a lovely activity, I really do like the idea of getting them to make one for each other. #LetKidsBeKids

    • Wednesday 20 November, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      We have several activities, this time of year, that encourage them to think about giving rather than receiving. An antidote from the inevitable tempting adverts which encourage them to centre on their own wants. Well, that’s the idea!

  • Wednesday 20 November, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    What a great idea! It is a lovely idea that they make the advent calendar for each other, that makes it more what christmas is all about!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    • Wednesday 20 November, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      It is one of our very favourite activities running up to Christmas.

  • Sunday 24 November, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    What a lovely advent calendar tree! Popping over from #letkidsbekids

    • Monday 25 November, 2013 at 10:59 am

      Thanks. We’ve started on this year’s editions. How time flies.

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