Friday, December 06, 2013

Our Advent Calendar

I love Christmas! Love, love, love, love, love Christmas! The music, the baking, Santa...all that good stuff.  This year I wanted to try something different and decided to make an advent calendar for the kids.  The only advent calendar we ever had as kids were the little boxes with the windows that you opened and got chocolate out of.  In true Kristin fashion, I decided on 3pm on December 1st, that yes, I was going to make an advent calendar.  I headed out to Target to grab a couple of supplies since I had most everything at home that I was going to use.  While I was wandering around in the holiday section, I stumbled upon the Christmas trees.  I thought how fun would it be to surprise the kids and get them their very own Christmas trees and decorations for their rooms? SO FUN!! So I gathered what I needed and headed home to get to work on the Advent Calendar. I Incorporated the trees in the calendar so the note that they read in the bag for Day #1 was, "There is a surprise in your rooms!" (to find out what was in the rest of the treat bags keep reading). The excitement on their little faces were almost too cute to bear, and luckily I had the video camera rolling to capture there reactions.  When they opened their doors and saw their very own trees all lit up, they were a little speechless at first. And then it happened.  My darling 7 year boy, started yelling, "YES! YES! THIS IS WHAT I'VE ALWAYS WANTED! MY DREAM COME TRUE!"  He had been asking me for the last couple of years to decorate his room with lights and we just never got around to it.  If I would have known that he would have been this excited, I would have done this in years past. The emotion in his eyes and face were something I will never so real and sincere, it nearly brought me to tears.  He was bursting with happiness like I've never seen from him, and it was one of those mommy moments for me that I will never forget! (also because I video taped it).  I hope this is one of those childhood memories that he remembers forever as one of his favorites when he is grown because it sure was one of mine. Sam was also thrilled to pieces, but the best part about it was that when it came time to decorate, Tanner dragged his tree into his sisters' room so they could decorate them together.  It was so fun, and they're so excited to be able to get their very own trees out every year now and add to them.  Pics of this below...

My DIY Advent Calendar

I've had a few questions about our advent calendar, the most common one being, "What's in the bags?" So, here's how I made mine.  I scoured the Internet and Pinterest for all things Advent Calendars.  I was late in getting started on mine since it was Dec. 1, so I needed something quick, simple and cost effective.  I decided on hanging paper bags with goodies in them on our little chalkboard wall that is between the kitchen and the mudroom/garage door.


Laundry clips
paper bags
whatever is going in the bags

This project to me about an hour from start to finish and here is the process...

First, I drew out the month of December on paper and filled in every day with what was going in each bag, so I didn't double up on something or forget something.  Once I was satisfied, I cut little squares out of scrapbook paper so I could write little notes on them.  I gathered all my goodies and started filling bags.  Of course I could have made them cuter, but I didn't have time.

 Of course we have to make them perfectly level...

Scary Photo Bomber!


Examples of goodies I put in the bag: Halloween candy, candy canes, animal crackers, fruit snacks, unopened Pez dispensers they got last year for Christmas, a couple of crafts from the $1 bin, stickers.
I tried to use what I had at home already and only picked up a couple of cheap goodies at the store for fillers.

Some examples of what I put in bags without treats; mostly they were notes for doing a Xmas craft, doing something as a family or doing something for someone else. Here are a few examples of what ours say.
       - write letters to Santa
       - make snowflakes to hang around the house
       - watch Sound of Music as a family, and clap as mom sings along to all the songs
       - go on a carriage ride
       - gather unused toys and things and donate
       -  pass out teacher gifts
       - bake cookies and hand out to neighbors (with a note clearly stating, " EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK. MADE BY LITTLE PEOPLE"
       - watch Polar Express
       - Drive around and look at lights
       - sleep under the Xmas tree (this one may be a big hit. It will probably turn into, "hang out under the Xmas tree until mom and dad decide it's time to sleep in our own beds," in which case there will most likely be tears).
       - make Xmas ornaments
       - make Xmas cards and send out to family and friends
       - (Xmas Eve) open 1 gift, our tradition

So, that's it! Simple and quick! Also, pleased that our Advent calendar doubles as a place to hang holiday cards, since I don't currently have a specific place for them it is perfect!!

Landry wanted in on the action...Holy Cow, Look at that mess!!!  Landry, naughty...

Like I said, nothing special about these bags

 Sam's pouting because she just realized that she doesn't get to open Bag #1 :)

Decorating their trees together

Merry Christmas!!