As a child, I enjoyed the count down to Christmas almost as much as the actual day. Even simple advent calendars, which were just windows with pictures behind them, were a thrill, and something to look forward to every night. So now I’m always looking for fun but simple ways to get my kids excited and to help them count down to Christmas. Here are some of my favorites – please comment if you have ideas!
12 Days of Christmas Count Down Gifts – A couple years ago I had the ambitious idea to make ‘advent gifts’, which had one layer for each of the twelve days leading up to December 25th. I thought that opening a gift every day would tease the kids a bit, and get us all in the spirit of the season.
I created a note that went with each gift, which had jokes and trivia, as well as instructions where needed. I had Christmas kazoos with a holiday tune for one day, mini markers and a small coloring book for another, some home made Christmas ‘mad libs’, Christmas cards, crafts, holiday beads for bracelets… all kinds of things.
As much as the kids loved actually opening a gift every day, it turned out to be just too much work, not just for me, but for them! A craft, jokes and trivia just couldn’t be fully enjoyed every day. So now I recommend something simpler – visit your local dollar store and choose some simple, little gifts that are kind of flat – activity books, book marks, holiday themed pens, little toys. a candy cane, candy, etc. Forget the little notes – too much work, and the kids don’t really care anyway. Take the bulkiest thing – in my case, it was the Reindeer Dust (see below), and wrap it. Write on the package “Open me December 24th”. Then place the smallest gift on top of that gift, wrap it, and write on it “Open me December 23rd”. Continue with this until December 13th, and you’ve got one layer for each of the twelve days of Christmas!
If you want to make this even simpler, just do one gift every few days. The kids won’t know when they get to open the next gift until the one before it is open, and the suspense will be part of the fun.
Let me know if you have more success with this idea than I did!
You’ve Been Elfed – We’ve done the classic ‘You’ve Been Boo’ed” game in our neighborhood at Halloween for years, but somehow it got missed this year, so we decided to do it for Christmas, and call it You’ve Been Elfed. You can find lots of great graphics and instructions by typing ‘you’ve been elfed’ into your search engine. Fill two gift bags with Christmas goodies of any kind (we used crafts, candy canes, chocolates, holiday themed pens, erasers and toys). Place instructions and several ‘You’ve Been Elfed” signs inside each bag. Then sneak out in the dark, place one bag on the door handle or front porch of a neighbor, ring the doorbell and run and hide. This is a blast – we have great memories of trying not to laugh as we hide behind the wheel of a car. Then your neighbor places one Elf sign on her door, makes two bags of her own and passes them on. As the month progresses you’ll start to see Elf signs appearing in your neighbors’ doors and windows – so fun!
Santa Dust / Reindeer Dust – for a cute, inexpensive gift for friends, a Christmas eve surprise for your kids (something other than pajamas!), or to fill the center of your 12 Days of Christmas Count Down Gift, make some Magic Reindeer Dust (some call it Santa Dust). Mix some quick oats with glitter – we use a mixture of red, white and green. Place a small amount in a plastic pouch or tiny box, and add a note that says “Open me December 24th”. I like to add a note with a poem. Feel free to copy this one – I wrote it and you’re welcome to it:
MAGIC REINDEER DUST
Tonight’s the night! Santa’s soon on his way.
You’ve waited so long for tomorrow’s big day.
But what if it’s cloudy, or foggy, or grey
and Santa’s not able to land his big sleigh?
This pouch holds some magic that glows very bright
and is mixed with some food for the reindeer’s delight.
Just sprinkle this mixture all over your lawn
so Santa will come to your house before dawn.
Make a wish as you sprinkle, and hope it comes true.
Say “Thank you dear Santa, for all that you do”.
Don’t forget Santa’s snack, inside, on a plate
Then head off to bed before it’s too late.
Then maybe tomorrow you’ll wake up and see
something special for you, waiting under the tree.
We at Starrytime wish you the happiest of this holiday season.