Last year, we began a new tradition with an “advent calendar of adventure.” Each morning began with anticipation and surprise, as Jasper opened that day’s envelope to find what new adventure was on the calendar for that day.
Because I matched the “adventures” with plans we already had for overnight hotel stays or friends’ Christmas parties, and balanced busier week days with simpler activities, it wasn’t overwhelming to execute, and it made for a lot of sweet wintery memories. It meant offering real world experiences, slower times at home, and opportunities to connect with story and song. It’s that time of year again, and I’m making plans for our second December of adventure.
Here are some adventure activity ideas that you can use, or tailor to your own family’s culture:
- pick out a Christmas tree
- get out the decorations
- go for a walk in the woods
- bring out the Christmas books, and choose one to read at bedtime
- celebrate the last day of any regular activities before the holidays
- be sure to include a festive announcement of any holiday parties you’ll be attending, and let your hosts provide the magic for that day
- make a gingerbread house or gingerbread men
- make beeswax candles for the season ahead
- have a board game night
- feed the birds (simply fill the feeders or do a project like this one)
- make soup for lunch, and surprise a friend or neighbour with a jar of soup
- go to a holiday concert or ballet
- gather around a backyard campfire
- have a friend over for dinner
- bake bread to give to a neighbour (here’s our favourite)
- go to the grocery store and choose $20 worth of food for the food bank
- go on a trip to the city
- celebrate the solstice
- make hot chocolate and sing carols
- bake cookies
- family movie night
- make or choose a teacher gift
- make a craft at Grandma’s house
- go for a night-time walk to look at lights
- make a thank you or holiday card for your local children’s librarian
- buy or make a gift for your sibling
- host a hot cocoa party
- make and deliver Christmas cards
- make salt-dough or cinnamon-apple sauce ornaments
How to build it:
- Figure out a way to display your calendar.
- Sit down with your calendar and make a list from 1-24.
- Assign each day an activity, being sure to balance busier days and simpler adventures.
- Cut small slips announcing each days activities, and number them.
- Put each slip into its corresponding numbered envelope.
- Keep your master list handy so that you’ll know what’s coming up, or in case you need to switch activities around as things change over time.
- Have your calendar displayed and ready to go on December 1st.
Notes from my experience:
This advent calendar is all about the message, and not about the stuff. All you really need is a way to hold and hide away each slip of paper containing that day’s activity.
I used a jewelry rack that my dad created years ago out of an old wooden picture frame and wooden dowels, because that’s what I had on hand. That would be simple enough to replicate if DIY is your thing, or a simple clothesline-style string, or even a paper chain garland would do the trick.
I created my tiny envelopes out of our family’s watercolour paintings, paper bags and foil paper scraps, and labelled each one with number 1-24.
Then I slipped the corresponding message in each envelope, and hung them from the doweling with ribbon.
If it all feels like too much, another option is to celebrate 12 days of Christmas, or to have a shorter countdown leading to Christmas.