Countdown to Christmas!

It’s that time of year again, my favorite time of year! The time when we start to prepare for Christmas, get in to the holiday spirit and really focus on what it means to be a family. To do this in our house, we have countdown activities every day in December leading up to Christmas. In years past we have focused on crafts, but last year I felt we were a little too commercial for my taste, so this year our focus is just on spending quality time with one another and creating lasting memories. My biggest wish would be for this to become a tradition my children enjoy with their own kids someday.

Countdown to Christmas: Great list of crafts, activities and family outings

Here’s a list of what we’ll be doing this year, I have not associated specific dates because I like spontaneity and because well, sometimes things change! Feel free to borrow any ideas and I will try to blog about as many as possible to show you how they went. If you do any of these activities with your family, I would love to hear how they turned out.

- Reindeer Thumbprint Ornament (C)
- Trim the Tree (T)
- Decorate the House & Yard for Christmas (T)
- Christmas Socks Day (T)
- Christmas Movie Marathon & Christmas Cookies (T)
- Snuggle up & Read Christmas Stories (T) My absolute favorite
- Paper Christmas Trees
- Popsicle Snowflake Ornaments (C)
- Dollar Store Shopping (O) *
- Kids Wrapping Party (C) New Technique*
- Christmas Movie Matinee (O)
- Tree & Snowman Shirts (C)
- Hill Country Holidays at Westin La Cantera (O)
- Make Gifts for our Neighbors & Y Friends (C)
- Go Visit Santa (O)
- Make Gingerbread Men & Gingerbread Girls (T)
- Afternoon at the Carnival w/ Kinder Class (O)
- Riverboat Ride (O)
- Christmas Light Spectacular Car Ride (T)
- Christmas Celebration at Sea World San Antonio (O)
- Snowman Sundaes for Happy’s Birthday (T)
- Christmas Pizza Night (T)
- Helping Hands Wreath (C) *
- Family in Jammies Party (Y)
- Jesus’ Birthday (T)

(*) Notes about a few of our traditions: (T = Together Time, O = Outing, C= Craft)

Dollar Store Shopping – each year we take the kids to the dollar store to let them shop for people on their list. We make a lot of gifts also, but shopping is part of the fun too. Here they can pick out anything they want and not worry about the price.

Kids Wrapping Party is another fun tradition we have. The kids make all their own paper and then wrap as many presents as possible on their own. Our wrapping has evolved over the years and now includes a 10 ft Christmas mural we work on a few days before the party.

Helping Hands Wreath: This is a great project and is very similar to the way we build our nativity manger for baby jesus. When the kids do something especially nice or helpful they get to cut a small piece of tan yarn to add to our manger for baby jesus. The more good deeds they do, the more comfortable he will be when he arrives. This year the kids will also get to cut out a hand from green construction paper when they help around the house. When we’re done, we’ll use these hands to create the wreath.

I hope you find some inspiration here and some new ideas for your family. If you’d like even more ideas, check out our ideas from 2010 & 2009.

Need more christmas activities? Check out this awesome Pinterest board
Follow Stacy of KSW Advent Activities on Pinterest

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Every Day is a Holiday Pt II

Last year, I started a family advent tradition at our house consisting of crafts, activities, outings and more to be done each day in December leading up to Christmas. I wanted to focus on family, fun, the spirit of giving and more importantly, the real reason for the season. Also, I hoped to take some of the focus off all merchandising schemes & marketing campaigns that have weaseled their way in to our holidays and keep my kids oblivious to all that hoopla for at least a few more years.

And you know what?

It was hands down my favorite part of the holidays, so of course, I revived it this year. Some of the activities from last year we have chosen to do again, some are new, many we borrowed from a sweet friend, Katherine Marie, who is acting out her very own list of activities you won’t want to miss. (<- The Random Acts of Kindness Advent)

I’m sharing our list with you in hopes that you may find something fun to do with your family this holiday season. I’ll try and post updates along the way, but in case we’re too busy having fun, here’s what we’re up to.

Dec 1: Sweet’s Mommy & Me Day - A Royal Tea Party
Dec 2: Happy’s Mommy & Me Day – Superhero Showdown
Dec 3: Christmas Gifts for the Birds
Dec 4: Christmas Celebration at Sea World San Antonio
Dec 5: Pick out & Decorate our Tree
Dec 6: Gifts to the Teachers at the YMCA
Dec 7: Fresh Mulled Cider & A Christmas Light Spectacular Car Ride
Dec 8: Cocoa for Troops & Army Mens (aka men in uniform)
Dec 9: Kids Christmas Craft Party at our house
Dec 10: Donate to local Children’s Shelter
Dec 11: San Antonio Tamale Festival
Dec 12: First NBA Game
Dec 13: Build Gingerbread house w/ Nana
Dec 14: Kids Shopping Day (mainly $1 store stuff)
Dec 15: Candy Cane Drop Off
Dec 16: Handprint Reindeer Ornaments & a surprise trip to Build A Bear
(I purchased each kid a 50% off coupon during a recent Group On event)

Dec 17: Take Cookies to Employees at the Library
Dec 18: Date with Santa
Dec 19: Happy’s 5th Birthday!!
Dec 20: Kids Wrapping Party
Dec 21: Make Snowman Ornaments (like these)
Dec 22: Donate to Food Pantry ($10 = 100 lbs of food) & Make Gifts for the Neighbors
Dec 23: River Boat Ride
Dec 24: Family in Jammies Party *
Dec 25: Christmas Day!!! Or Jesus’ Birthday, as we like to call it :)

For a complete list of last year’s activities, click here.
(psst, you’ll want to click. There’s a link to a pretty awesome printable advent calendar)

Um, apparently I need to start counting down sooner (or adding regular Random Act of Kindness events throughout the year) cause I just checked last years list and there were a lot of fun things on there I wanted to do again this year.

Happy Holidays Everyone!