We like to wait until Halloween is over before talking about and decorating for Christmas.
Guess what?! It’s time!
For Thanksgiving, we shared our Good Things and Gratitude Jar tradition that we started this year. For the upcoming holiday season, we want to share our Christmas Countdown tradition with you as well.
I got obsessed with the idea of making a Christmas Countdown display for us a few years ago but wanted to make it about more than just eating sweets. Although, let’s be honest, there still has to be a few treats! The result: an advent calendar on steroids. We get a chance to explore our city, give back and get treats. We usually have a combination of activities, donations, random acts of kindness, trinkets/treats and have even added a few things just for the adults to enjoy *wink
With so much more than chocolate, we look forward to it every year!
Easily make your own Christmas Countdown Advent Calendar:
- Make or buy a refillable countdown display.
- Decide what you want to fill your display with. Choose your favorite ideas from the lists below and add your own ideas.
- Fill your display and enjoy a little something-something each day leading up to Christmas.
To make ours, I found some magnetic tins at Michael’s, decorated, numbered them and voila:
Check out our Christmas Countdown Pinterest Board for inspiration!
- Budget for your countdown in advance – The best part about making your countdown is that it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Didn’t know you wanted to do this so have zero budget? Don’t worry! For less than $5 you can purchase some paper lunch bags and ribbon from the dollar store. Number the bags, make them festive with ribbon and you’re good to go. If you’re trying to be as budget conscious as possible, focus on Random Acts of Kindness and activities you already do (like playing a game you already have and decorating the tree).
- Use a calendar to plan it out. Write in pencil because you will likely have to shift things as you slot ideas in.
- Have chocolate/treat only days. This will give your countdown some flexibility when unexpected things come up. Too tired to do an activity? Switch it for the treat planned for tomorrow.
- If donating money, save your receipt(s) for an income tax write off. Be sure to check the minimum amount you need to donate to actually get a tax receipt (made that mistake last year and couldn’t claim it).
- Check out our Christmas Countdown Pinterest Board for ideas and inspiration
- Have fun with it!
Here’s some lists with ideas of things you may want to include:
We are really lucky to have a lot going on in our city around the holidays! Between parades, displays, ambitious decorators we could probably fill our whole calendar with activities. Here are some suggestions of what might be available in your area:
-Check out a gingerbread house display
-Create a decoration
-Decorate a gingerbread house
-Decorate the tree
-Drive around to look a Christmas lights
-Enjoy a Christmas concert or carolers
-Get pictures with Santa (some pet stores offer this for pets too!)
-Have a game night
-Make a holiday craft
-Ride a holiday train
-See a holiday movie/ have a holiday movie night (with popcorn, of course!)
-Sip hot chocolate by the fire (check out Netflix for the recorded fire if you don’t have a fire place)
-Take in a Christmas play
-Visit a Christmas tree display
-Watch a Parade
Remember, donations can be monetary, physical goods or time. For monetary donations, we like to split our donation between local, national and global causes. Over the last few years, we have used Canadian Feed the Children for national and international donations (not sponsored, obviously). They have really interesting gifts at varying price points, some of which are matched by companies; meaning when you buy 1, 2 or more are donated. As a bonus, for each donation, you can print a free card to use in your countdown containers.
-Add books to a local Free Little Library
-Create a care package for homeless people
-Donate gently used clothing
-Give a toy drive donation
-Give some change to the local Library (ours has a fun maze the coins fall through)
-Make a food bank donation at the grocery store
-Purchase animal(s) and/or supplies for families/communities in a third world country
-Put together a hamper for a family in need
-Support a local food program
Random Acts of Kindness
Financial support is one way of giving, Random Acts of Kindness are free, appreciated and unexpected. They are a wonderful reminder of how we can easily brighten someone’s day. Here is a very small list of ideas to get you thinking
-Answer some questions on FreeRice.com
-Ask someone how they are doing and actually listen to the answer
-Bake or make something for neighbours, classmates or coworkers
-Bring in your neighbour’s recycling/trash bins
-Compliment a stranger
-Help a neighbour or friend
-Pick up litter
-Share a favorite blog post or leave a comment on a favorite blog
-Smile at 5 people you don’t know
-Spend time at an animal shelter
-Take a quiz at I Boost Imunity
-Visit someone who lives alone
-Write a Christmas card to an unknown neighbour
-Write a thank you card to someone
Trinkets and Treats
Enjoy little treats sprinkled throughout the month. Check out your favorite dollar store if you’re buying small toys and accessories for kids.
-Christmas coloured candies: jelly beans, M&M’s, jujubes
-Small toys: cars, animals,
-Hair accessories: bows, hair ties, barrettes
-Starbucks gift card
The countdown fun isn’t just for kids! We started this tradition a couple of years before our little one was born. He’s still too young to understand it but that’s now stopping us from continuing our tradition. Spice up the countdown with some adult only fun.
-Booze: wine, Bailey’s, etc
-Date night (in or out)
We include our countdown in our Christmas gift budget because it can add up fast! The fun part is that it’s completely up to you what you choose to do. Keep an eye on our on our Facebook page and see what we get up to for our countdown this year…
What holiday traditions do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments!
-Denise and Sean
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