Advent activities for real life

Corner by corner - simple advent activities


















I am a big fan of advent calendars. I may have blogged about this before. They represent to me a near-perfect combination of festive celebration, Christmas anticipation, and chocolate. What’s not to love?

Rosa's advent chestRemember Rosa’s advent chest? Her excitement at getting it out of the attic this year has reached fever pitch. She and her sisters are spending next weekend with my parents, and even her excitement at this (“Granny and Grandad’s house is the life I always dreamed of!”) is slightly dampened by the prospect of two nights away from the chest and its various delights.

India's advent calendarI am less convinced that India remembers her fabric Christmas tree with velcro decorations, but perfectly sure that once it’s hung on the door she will be as consumed by Christmas excitement as the rest of us. Our advent excitement has been further augmented this year by the following exchange on twitter with our new milkman:

Yup. The milkman brought her an advent calendar. I felt as if I were living in Trumpton. Rosa seemed to think all her Christmases had come at once (which is ironic, given that the nature of an advent calendar means that Christmas has in fact NOT yet come). Even India was sufficiently swept away by the excitement of it all that she forgot to be consumed by jealousy and sadness.

So naturally, amongst all this preparation, a mother’s thoughts turn to this year’s advent activities.Or rather, my thoughts turn to this. More normal people, I realise, will buy a chocolate advent calendar from the Co-op and be done with it. I on the other hand am a ludicrous person who sets myself impossible targets, and I like the idea of the girls getting a little slip of paper each day with a Christmas activity written on it, for us to do together that day.

Honestly, things have been so manic here lately that I might have abandoned the idea this year, except that Rosa (curse her excellent memory!) remembered and said to me, “And will my advent chest have Christmassy activities in it for us to do?”. Like a fool I said, “Yes, of course!”

I remembered the ruthless cutting down of the advent activities printable that I did last year, and I felt a little weary. The thing is, in theory I am all up for 24 festive, memorable activities. I think it’s rather beautiful. But in actual fact, when it’s 4.30pm and it’s already dark, and we’re all tired out, Persephone is gripped by the terrible twos…. well, sometimes on those days the prospect of just putting on the TV is rather more attractive than engaging in some craftiness.

Also, I think many of the activities suggested on other blogs are just a bit exhausting. Or very American. Or really designed for families who live in much more predictably cold climates than here. So I decided to make my own list. A list of do-able activities, more tailored to British families, specifically put together for people who (whisper it) might be a bit tired and a bit crabby some days.

The list is available on the link below as a Word document, ready to print out. But as a taster of what you’re getting, here are my list of advent activities:

  • Have dinner by candlelight
  • Write to Father Christmas
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Give some old toys away
  • Learn a Christmas carol
  • Watch a Christmas film
  • Give some food to the food bank
  • Make popcorn
  • Wrap presents
  • Make Christmas biscuits
  • Make a decoration for the tree
  • Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • Do some Christmas crafts
  • Dance to Christmas music
  • Draw a Christmas picture
  • Read a Christmas story
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Visit Father Christmas
  • Have a Christmas party
  • See Nanna and Grandpa
  • Make Christmas fudge
  • Do some Christmas colouring
  • Put out a plate of food for Father Christmas!
  • Eat mince pies
  • Go Christmas present shopping

Yes some of these activities are a bit full on. ‘Make a gingerbread house’ is lovely, but not a simple stress-free activity. ‘Make Christmas biscuits’, ditto. There are 26 options so you can exclude any that don’t appeal, and there are also some blanks as well, in case you are tempted (as I confess I will almost certainly be tempted) to add in a few more, ‘Watch a Christmas film’ options instead. We may well recycle this particular one and use it on more than one after school night when it’s grey and everyone is getting scratchy and tired out.

I added a couple of activities which you will either find beautifully wholesome or slightly nauseating, depending on your point of view. But I really, really want the girls to donate some food to the local food bank, for political as well as for character building reasons. Similarly, I want them to be involved in making some space in their ever-growing collection of toys. I want them to think, even if only briefly, about children who do not have as many toys as they do, and also for them to realise that getting rid of possessions can be a positive choice.

So here is my printable of realistic, down-to-earth, advent activities. For families with aspirations for a festive period stuffed with family fun… who are sometimes thwarted in their ambitions by tantrums (child and adult), by tiredness, by a little bah-humbugginess, and by the exigences of the washing. To download it, click on the image below, or there is an old-fashioned text link below that.

Corner by corner - simple advent activities


















Download advent activities.

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