A number of years ago I came across an idea somewhere (Family Fun, maybe?) of a fun way to count down the days till Christmas.
We had done the advent chains, where you start with 24 paper chains and you rip one off each day so the kids (the little ones, especially) can see how many days are left till the big day. Some people write a bible verse on each chain, or an idea of an activity to do, some just leave them blank.
We also do advent calendars, as this is something I remember from my childhood. Somehow, my kids seem to get just as much thrill out of something as simple as looking for the daily number and opening the flap as I did when I was little.
But my favorite Christmas countdown, and it seems to be my kids' favorite as well, is our advent stockings.
I'm still planning on throwing a length of Christmas greenery along the hooks to dress it up a bit, but you get the idea.
Pretty simple to do, and the kids get soooo excited to find out what's in each stocking.
I just went out and bought 12 pairs of red and white socks from Wal-Mart, but you could do this for free just by using socks from your unmatched socks basket.
What? Doesn't everybody have a basket full of scores of unmatched socks???
Find some wallspace where you can hang this. I happen to have a long mirror with hooks on it that I use, but you can get some of those 3M hooks that come off the wall when you're done. Those things are all kinds of awesome.
Run a string through the holes of 24 clothespins, and mark the clothespins from 24 down to 1, with 24 to the left and 1 all the way at the end on the right.
Then have some fun figuring out what to fill the stockings with. If you haven't figured it out yet, this works just like an old-fashioned advent calendar: on Dec 1st, your kids get to see what's in the stocking hung by the "24" clothespin. Dec 2nd they open the "23" stocking and so on down the line till they've opened the "1" stocking on Christmas Eve.
The beauty of this is that you can go really cheap or really elaborate, whatever floats your boat (and your budget).
A few ideas along the range of free to pricey:
*print out some Christmas activity pages, such as word-searches, crosswords, coloring pages,
*cut out strips of red and green construction paper and put those in the stocking for the kids to make a Christmas chain,
*cut out a little Christmas tree from green paper and write "Today we find (or decorate) our Christmas tree!",
*put a Christmas cookie cutter in the stocking to let them know today's the day they'll get to help make Christmas cookies,
*put a little baggie of birdseed in the stocking with a note that instructs them how to make peanut-butter-and-birdseed-pinecone-feeders for the birds,
*Christmassy hair accessories,
*jingle bells and some ribbon for the kids to make necklaces with,
*surprise them with breakfast out on the way to school one day (perhaps you could write it out on a star cut-out),
*cute Christmas socks.
You're only limited by your imagination.
Each day, another sock comes down, so they'll have the visual before them of how many days remain till Christmas.
If you can't trust the kids to not peek (and really, if you can, I don't like you very much), then just fill one at a time before you go on to bed each night.
The kids have been asking me for weeks when we can start the advent stockings.
Maybe I'll need to make advent stockings leading up to the advent stockings.
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