Our family had lots of untraditional traditions. Going to the movies on Christmas day. Christmas on Christmas Eve. Thematic, non-traditional meal like Mexican, Italian, a fried chicken Southern meal. (We did have a traditional Christmas morning with a big breakfast, opening Santa gifts with our little family, and my youngest sister setting her alarm for 5:00 a.m. to wake us all up. And we always made sure to make it to a church service.)
Lots of the inconsistency was due in part to adaptability. We were a super blended family with lots of families to visit during the holidays, so our tradition was, overall, to be flexible. Because of this, we did a variety of meaningful things such as fed the homeless Christmas morning, once or twice opened an Advent calendar with a daily scripture in it, or had random people who wouldn't otherwise go anywhere over for Christmas dinner.
Now that I'm a mom, I want to teach my daughters many things my mom taught me. One is to be adaptable and flexible during the holidays. Another is that Christmas is not about us. It's about Jesus and, as a follow up to that, a reminder to reach out and show love to others. But another part of me wants to establish traditions that are repeated every year and remembered years from now.
I barely remember the Advent calendar we did one year as a girl: My mom reminded me of it just the other day. And I definitely didn't remember that it was called "Advent." It wasn't until Pinterest, reading other blogs, and my mother-in-law giving us an Advent house last year that the idea came to fruition as something I should do with my own family. I'm still not sure of it's origins or religious purpose other than it came from Catholic tradition, but I loved the idea behind it - a constant, daily reminder to do something as a family, to get into the Christmas spirit, and to help others.
I jumped on the bandwagon a little late this year, but luckily found this idea from eighteen25 that included the number printables.
I pretty much followed her tutorial exactly. Because the shoe organizer was brand new, the pockets are all creased. A steamer would fix this issue, but I'll save that for next year.
Inside each pocket, I included a daily activity (more on that later) and a felt ornament from the Advent house that my MIL gifted us last year. (The glue on the house itself disintegrated this past summer in the attic during that crazy Texas heat.)
We put the ornaments on this little tree we bought from Michael's on Black Friday this year. I appliquéd the star on the top, and the birds are salt and pepper shakers that I always have sitting out.
After each day, I put the number inside the pocket and the once hidden activity on the outside of the pocket. I like the idea of looking at the month and seeing all that we did as a family.
Since there are so many great tutorials on making the actual Advent calendar (and I had found the quickest & easiest one already), my only stumper was the activities to put on the inside. I knew I wanted activities instead of a putting candy or toys inside. I can repeat the activities from year to year: I'd have to buy new toys every year.
I found a few fantastic blogs with starting ideas. Some even generously shared their personal printables. Here are the ones that inspired me the most:
None of those worked specifically for our family though. Some from the Noodlehead blog were meant to be done in snow - not happening in Texas. Plus, I wanted some service activities like I saw at the Duke and Duchesses blog (but not all service activities). Design Dazzle's weren't all for me (although super cute!) either. So, I used activities from all three plus some stuff I already had on our calendar to do and made my own.
Here's a link to what I made.
It's been more fun for me than for Miss P this year since she's only 2, but I have no doubt that one year she'll be excited to see what ornament and activity is in the pocket for the day. And twenty years from now she and #2 will recall all 25 felt ornaments and the memories of completing the activities together.