Growing up, my mom didn't just focus on Christmas coming, but also celebrated Advent. Every year, I received one of those chocolate filled Advent calendars-I was the envy of my friends-lol! She would purchase them from a local German store, which seemed to be, back then, the only place to buy them. It was awesome. But, she also focused on Advent in other ways.
When I had kids, and they were old enough to really experience Christmas, I wanted to focus on more than just presents and such. I wanted to focus on family, friends, and what Christmas really meant to us-the birth of Jesus. I decided that, along with those wonderful chocolate filled calendars, we would do a different activity each day of Advent. Originally, I made a paper chain, one chain for each Advent day, and it would have a different activity on it. The kids loved it, and still do (even my 3 teens :)! But, I noticed last year, certain children were sneaking peeks ahead to see what activity was coming up. Humph! Momma doesn't like that, so this year, I wanted to do something to make each day more hidden. I came up with the idea to make different Christmas shapes and making pockets with them. Then, I can add the slip of paper with the activity into each day's shape. Here is a close up of one of the shapes. See the slip of paper?
Then, just using paperclips, I slid each shape onto a piece of ribbon, which I then hung on one of my walls:
I chose to mark down the days. I also killed time whily my husband watched a movie we have seen several times already and decorated each little shape :)
Each day, one of the kids (and we go in order from youngest to oldest) gets to take that day's shape down and read the activity. Some of the activities we do are : ride around looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot cocoa, watch a special dvd, watch a Christmas special on tv (I love getting advance notice on some of these through ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas), making treats for the dogs, making treats for neighbors, crafts, making presents for grandparents, help a charity, write letters to Santa (the older kids might help the younger with this), going to a special place to see lights, and many more. I try to add in atleast one new thing each year to keep my older kids surprised since they have done this for so many years, and well, because they are teens and well....ya know... ;)
If you are looking for a special way to bring some fun family memories this year, try celebrating Advent. You cna do it so many different ways. We have even learned about other cultures' celebrations during this time of year and the kids learned so much (it can be a great homeschooling tie in ;) Here are some great websites to help you get more ideas or learn more about Advent:
Family Fun's Countdown to Christmas
20 Fun Family Ideas to Fill Your Advent Calendar
24 Ways to Countdown to Christmas
PS-Advent begins that Sunday after Thanksgiving. This year, there are 28 days :)