It’s nearly time for the countdown to Christmas to begin, so I thought I would take a moment today to speak about advent calendars.
There are loads of really great ways to reduce the waste created by advent calendars. You could opt for a traditional paper-only offering, or buy a toy-themed calendar and reuse this every year – then there’s the refillable option, and books!
Initially, we tried a Lego calendar with the intention of reusing it indefinitely, but it soon became clear that this wasn’t going to work in our house. Lego seems to inspire such creativity in my kids that they would build that day’s model, then grab blocks from our existing stash and then set about incorporating the calendar bricks into some vast structure that only they could fathom the purpose of… By the time day 2 was over, we realised we weren’t ever going to manage to keep the Christmas blocks seperate.
In the end, I opted for a reusable cloth calendar. It’s beautiful – handmade by the lady who runs House of Wonderland (which you should absolutely take a look at – she has the most beautiful things).
In the pockets, I put a combination of plastic-free sweets and little slips of papers with activities on. Initially, I found it really hard to come up with things to do which didn’t focus on getting, but I think we had a good list last year:
- Welcome to DECEMBER! Let’s have some fun! (Chocolate lollies)
- Let’s have a walk if the weather is nice and collect some pine cones to decorate the table with.
- Write Christmas cards to people we love. You can even draw pictures to put in too!
- Take the cards to the post box and send them on their way!
- Make some bird feeders from lard and birdseed.
- Bake something to give to all the houses on the track.
- Here’s £20 – lets see how many yummy things we can get for the food bank.
- Write a list of all the things you’re grateful for which happened this year.
- Watch the Muppet Christmas Carol.
- Sort through our books and give any we don’t want to the library at school.
- Make a special card/present for the postie – she’s so busy just now!
- Have fun with some sparklers.
- Sort through our toys and see if the library wants any for the toy boxes there.
- Find out about ‘Sal’s shoes’, ‘Child’s Play’ and ‘The Little Princess Trust’. Choose which one gets £5.
- Let’s have a morning dance party before school!
- Let’s put up and decorate the Christmas tree!
- Watch the Christmas Curious George film.
- Let’s read a book by candlelight.
- Let’s take your Christmas gifts to your teachers at school & nursery.
- Let’s dip some marshmallows in white chocolate to make snowmen!
- Write down some of the fun things we did this year – it’s good to remember.
- Go to Nannan’s and bake some mince pies!
- Not everyone is celebrating Christmas – let’s learn about some other religions.
- Watch some Christmas carols on YouTube.
In total, this calendar costs just over £25 – this money covers the food bank donation, the charity donation, and any sundries (like marshmallows) which we don’t already have in the house. Obviously, you could change this amount to suit your own budget, or replace these activities with free things, such as litter picks, or carol services – whatever your wallet and schedule allows for.
All of this was pretty perfect when there was only one child – but then there were two… We did start by taking it in turns to check the calendar, which was fine, but then I read about book calendars so we made one of those too and the kids go turn-about for each.
The book calendar was super easy and very cheap – we just went through our collection and plucked out any stories which were wintery. I stashed them in my room and brought one out a day for the run up to Christmas. Rather than wrapping each one, I made a cloth bag out of some festive fabric from my stash and ploped a new book in each day. At the end of the season, I packed the books away with the decorations so that when the next year rolled around, the stories were both novel and nostalgic – perfect!
What are your advent traditions? I’d love to hear about them!