Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 1: Advent

I love this season!  I love Christmas and counting down to Christmas and all the activities (both religious and secular) of the season.  What I don't love it is the crazy, hectic schedule that always seems to accompany all the Christmas fun.

I really want this month to be calm and peaceful and joyful.  But already today we are getting off to a bad start.  It's been a busy Sunday, with a busy morning at church followed by meetings for Daniel followed by a photo shoot for me followed by a trip to the grocery store.  And right now, all I can do is think about ALL the things on my to do list for the week.  Plus, Audrey was super crabby and difficult all day long.  Ugh, it is not feeling calm or peaceful or joyful around here at all.

So somehow, I want to figure out a balance between all these things:  doing what has to be done, attending the events we have to attend, completing the Christmas activities that I like to do, and keeping in mind the real reason for the season.  Is it possible?  I'm not sure!  But I am determined to figure out a way to make it happen.  Because if every day of December is like today, it is not going to be good.

So with that's my plan for this Advent season. 

1.  Advent wreath
This is a new addition this year.  Our church passed out Family Advent Experience bags this morning with supplies for DIY Advent wreaths and weekly readings.  We are going to try to do this each Sunday night leading up to Christmas and then on Christmas morning before we open our presents.

2.  Advent book
We received this book as a wedding gift, and it has always been;postID=2715993365968001949a favorite.  Each day you open a door to read a part of the Christmas story.  On Christmas morning, before opening presents, we read the whole book and open all the doors.  The book is not in print anymore, so it is fairly expensive to buy.  But if you can get your hands on a copy, it's worth it!

3.  Advent calendar
I made a new Advent calendar this year, and I am super excited about it!!  For the past few years, we used a kit I bought from Stampin Up with takeout style boxes.  The boxes were hung by clothespins on strings in our window.  They worked, but I always dreaded stringing and hanging the boxes each year; too much hassle to get everything even and lined up. 

So I searched for Advent calendar ideas on Pinterest and found the easiest idea EVER!  Shoe organizer Advent calendars!  All you have to do is hang the shoe organizer on a door, then fill the pockets with whatever you want.  So easy and fun!  You can easily change it up from year to year by putting different things inside the pockets.
I got my shoe organizer here.  Then I bought little favor bags from this Etsy store.  I made and printed my own numbers and Merry Christmas sign and attached them to the pockets.

Inside each little bag is two pieces of candy, one each for Audrey and Isla.  We open up the bags after breakfast in the morning.  Along with the candy, there is a slip of paper tucked inside with a Christmas activity for each day. 

I tried to look at our schedule and plan activities accordingly.  For example, we have back to back to back to back events December 15-19, so those events are our Christmas activities for each day.  There will be enough going on then, no need to add more to our plate.   I also knew today would be busy, so I went with something easy like "watch a Christmas movie."  I tried to schedule the more complex activities for days when I knew we had less going on.  The good news is that neither Audrey nor Isla can read, so when we pull out the paper each morning, we have the freedom to change the day's activity at the last minute!

 This is our activity schedule for this year:

1.  Watch a Christmas movie.
2.  Drink hot chocolate.
3.  Get a Christmas tree.
4.  Make a Christmas craft.
5.  Picnic dinner in front of the Christmas tree.
6.  Go to Nana's house (while Mommy and Daddy go to Orlando!)
7.  Play at Nana's house.
8.  Play at Nana's house.
9.  Play at Nana's house.
10.  Go back home and see Mommy and Daddy!
11.  Journey to Bethlehem field trip at school.
12.  Snowflake themed day!
13.  Ride the train at the mall.
14.  Buy presents for a needy family.
15.  Church Christmas Program.
16.  Preschool Christmas Program.
17.  Piano Christmas Concert.
18.  Church Christmas Party.
19.  Wrap presents.
20.  Give money to bell ringers.
21.  Make Christmas cookies; deliver to friends.
22.  Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
23.  Make ornaments for grandparent gifts.
24.  Open a special present before bed tonight.  (the present will be new Christmas PJs and possibly a book or movie)
25.  Merry Christmas!!!

I'm excited because we are going to be home for Christmas morning this year.  It's been a while since we've had a Christmas morning at home with just our little family.  Christmas morning will also be the FIRST gift exchange for us as well.  Many years we end up doing multiple family Christmases before Christmas day, and I think that makes Christmas morning a little less exciting.


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