Day 227

The countdown to Christmas has begun for a good many of us in the developed world.   Although, In the past few years, I have noticed that you can’t just mark the days off of your calendar anymore.  Instead there seems to have been a commercial explosion of Advent Calendars as countdown tool.  Although, I guess Advent Calendars have been around for many years, but until recently most were card stock and the pay-off was a nice picture under the flap, all-in-all only moderately exciting.

But now, there is all manner of elaborate contraptions on the market, some that come with ornaments and toys already loaded in them and others with spaces to fill.  Until last year, this was a tradition in which our household had not participated.

But, as things go when your children start to get older, my kids realized what they were missing.  They have some good friends whose family has an advent calendar and a mother who stuffs it with all kinds of toys and sweets for the countdown.

Seeing this as an opportunity to enhance their overall gift getting experience, they started the full-court press for an advent calendar sometime mid-December 2011.  I largely ignored them. But then, a couple of weeks into January, I folded like a paper airplane and bought one, because before The Simple Year, I was weak…and it was 75% off at Marshalls.

Of course, I forgot about it; but my kids didn’t.   Sometime in November, they wanted to know where the calendar was.  Well, of course it is in a storage unit somewhere in Texas.  I only brought one bin of Christmas decorations with us in my attempt to minimize and the calendar didn’t make the cut.

So, I told them I would figure out a homemade solution (because apparently even during The Simple Year, I am still weak).

And here is our simple solution, which took me about an hour and a glass of Malbec to construct.


Various size envelopes taped to the wall


Well, actually it is Martha Stewart’s brainchild and came to me via my über-crafty coworker who was able to access this idea in her mental filo-fax and then send me a link to the source.

This calendar is perfect for us.  First, I didn’t have to buy anything, I was able to scrounge around for the envelopes and the black letters were in our art supply cabinet, although I did run out of 2’s and had to perform surgery on some capitol B’s to make it work.    Also, since it is made from envelopes, there is no room for toys or candy (of which we don’t need any more).  Instead I filled them with slips of paper with items like:

  • Vouchers for time-baking cookies, playing a card game with mom or dad or a trip to the park
  • Notes promising special treats like going out for frozen yogurt or pancakes for breakfast on a school day
  • Puzzles and mazes downloaded from Krazy Dad
  • Special quotes
  • Letter to Santa stationary
  • Coloring pages
  • Blank Christmas cards for them to send (previous years left overs)

So, that is our simple Advent Calendar.  In any case, a couple of days in and the kids are delighted.  And, I am already planning on “losing” the other advent calendar I bought as soon as possible.

7 Responses to Advent-ures

  1. ‘Because before the Simple Year I was weak…’ Love it!

    I also love this idea – my daughter asked whether she was getting Advent presents last week – I said no, she’s 18 and just went to University! Might make her some ‘quality time’ vouchers though for when she comes home for Christmas 🙂

  2. So cute Kerry! The start of a great tradition for the kids. Maybe when mine get a little older I’ll start this too, currently working on the chocolate filled advent calendar. 🙂

  3. I have the “fill in the box” Advent calendar. I got it when my son was too little to demand daily candy, and it seemed like a good idea at the time…I actually told myself it was less wasteful. Now, I fill it with promissory notes for activitities with the family (go see lights, see Santa, get our tree, make Christmas cookies, etc) and with jokes. I googled kids Christmas jokes, and my (10 year old) son loves these! In all, one container of chocolate covered fruit was sparsely distributed, and most nights candy-free.

    • I have been seeing more of the promissory not type calendars, I’m going to borrow the joke idea. I know what you mean about things seeming like “a good idea at the time”. I feel the same way about the Elf on the Shelf.

Tell me, tell me...