Happy December 1st! And Happy 1st day of Advent! The word Advent is derived from the Latin adventus, which means “the approach” or the “arrival.” The verb is advenio: “I arrive. I come. I am coming.” Now you’ve had your daily dose of Latin education for the day! This is a special season as we prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus!
At our house, we have several different advent calendars. Each of them is unique in its own way and my kids love taking turns doing each one daily during the month of December.
Our snowman countdown is a simple, just move the wooden snowflake to the next day’s pocket…
Then there’s our adorable little Christmas tree that has teeny tiny ornaments, perfect for little fingers, hidden in all 24 drawers…this one also winds up and twirls to the tune “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
And the traditional chocolate calendar with windows revealing a delicious treat inside! (This one you can get at Aldi right now for only $0.99!) For obvious reasons, this is my kids’ favorite one!
And of course, there’s my version of celebrating Advent…one of my favorite Christmas devotionals, Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. It has just a few pages of reading each day leading up to December 25th and then beyond into the traditional twelve days of Christmas following, up until January 6th also known as the Epiphany. This is such a necessary part of my day during this stressful & hectic holiday season….sitting down with a cup of tea, it allows me to decompress and unwind – if only for a few minutes – and soak up all the wonder leading up to the birth of our Lord.
This year, I wanted to create another Advent calendar that would involve activities we could do as a family each day leading up to Christmas. I am trying to incorporate ways we can enjoy the gift of T-I-M-E together instead of accumulating more “stuff” that we really don’t need to fill our lives with this season.
I had seen an idea for a Jesse Tree on one of my favorite blogs, over at I Should be Mopping the Floor. Kristi, the very talented woman behind the blog, has a whole line of FREE printables that make projects easy peasy with the click of your mouse. But then I also found a printable template for actual Christmas activities you could do with your family over at Add a Pinch’s blog. What’s a creatively minded girl to do? I couldn’t choose just one, so of course, I went with both! I’m calling it my Advent Activity Calendar.
I started with a ginormous wooden pallet that I have had hanging around in my garage since we built our backyard fence last fall. I had tossed around a few ideas of what to do with it, but never did any of them, and then I realized it would be the perfect canvas for this project. If you don’t have a huge pallet just lying around like I did, then you could use any other large surface available to you – a big, blank wall in your house or a piece of cardboard covered in festive wrapping paper – just use your imagination!
The pallet needed a quick coat of antique white paint to “pretty” it up…and by quick, I mean quick! I still wanted parts of the original wood showing through to give it that “rustic charm” effect.
Moving on to the other elements of the activity calendar, I was lucky enough to find these brown paper craft bags in the dollar section at Target. They were only $1 for 8 bags. 24 bags for 24 days of Christmas for $3…check! Same with the package of 16 mini-clothespins for $1! Can’t beat an entire project that comes in at a grand total of $5!
After printing off the free Jesse Tree templates, fun Christmas countdown bag tags and the activity cards, it was time to cut and assemble the bags. Again, these printables can be found here (Jesse Tree cards & Christmas countdown bag tags) and here (activity cards.)
In each bag went the scripture verse for the day, along with an activity to do on that day. It was important to strategically place the activities based on realistic expectations for what we could actually achieve each day of the week. Things like “watch a favorite Christmas movie” would be easier to do on a school night vs. “go caroling.” Aim for success with the larger projects & activities saved for weekends or on the days off school during winter break when you have more time to devote to the time needed.
Then it was time to arrange and attach them to the board. For this, I just used some red burlap twine and my staple gun to affix the twine to the corners of the pallet board.
Once I had the twine pulled in a straight line it was time to start hanging the bags. I went with 4 rows of 6 bags, and left the bottom row empty since it was pretty close to the ground level anyway.
The end result turned out very cute! It fits perfectly in the corner of our family room by our entertainment center. I love that it’s right at a good level so my kids can easily reach the bags each day. And it blends in nicely with the rest of my ‘Very Vintage’ Christmas decor this year!
Let the Christmas countdown begin!