Before becoming a huge business for chocolate manufacturers, food-processing industry, toys manufacturers, cosmetic industry and basically anybody who has a brand out there, Advent Calendar was a way of patiently waiting until the Christmas day.
Originally a German tradition, this special calendar was made of drawings representing scenes from the Gospel and a prompt for a good action. Nowadays we all know what Advent Calendar has become.
Since I was not into the modern version but I still liked the idea of counting the days until Christmas with my daughter, I decided to do my own Advent Calendar. I found 24 ideas of things we can do together, one for each day and I printed them out on small cards along with a picture representing what we will be doing each day.
To craft the calendar I used envelopes, suspended with ribbons on a coat-hanger. The only thing I bought to make our Advent calendar were some star stickers because my daughter is fascinated by stars at the moment.
The “activities” I have selected for each day are are more or less things that we do anyway: listening to music, reading books, baking,.. and I wanted to add some related to the Christmas' values: giving, sharing, being grateful, .. Each card is about the time we spend together in a mindful way.
Another thing about our calendar is that we keep our time flexible. If we have to do what’s on the cards then we do it, if we don’t we just keep the ideas for later. No pressure, no “to-do”, just some ideas about how we could spend out time together
So here is our plan:
Most cards start with "Today we will..."
read all our books about winter
go to a German Christmas Market
Today it’s Saint Barbara. We will sow wheat
Today we will bake “Mannele” (the original, Alsation version of Mr Ginger Bread)
Today it’s Saint Nicolas: we will have a shadow theatre play telling St Nicolas' story
One of the values of Christmas is giving. Today we will donate something to a child
make a gift for a friend and send it out
make winter cards for your grand-parents and send them out
experience with Christmassy and sensorial play dough
listen to Christmas songs
Experience with snow dough
Experience with sparkling snow sand
bake a white cake
Sensorial experience with white fabrics
Arrange white flowers into vases
Winter –inspired Montessori activities
read books about seasons
paint snow flakes
Christmas-inspired Montessori activities
bake Christmas cookies
Montessori-inspired activity with Christmas paper dolls (easy to do in the car as we will be traveling on that day)
go to a French Christmas Market (We will be in France that day and the style of the French Christmas markets is quite different from the German one)
read books about Christmas
celebrate Christmas all together
I think that the most important things that our Advent Calendar brings are firstly, the focus on the time we spend together, mindfully doing activities we enjoy and secondly the opportunity for my daughter to "see" how time goes by.