Thursday, December 22, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

As a little girl there were always things to me that signified Christmas was drawing near - whether it was baking cookies with my Mom, lighting the advent candles every Sunday with my Dad, gobbling up the chocolate of my daily advent calendar, or hunting for the perfect tree (pine not spruce).

I loved Christmas as a child and so naturally I want to have some Christmas countdown traditions with my own boys that I hope they will look forward to each year and maybe someday take forward to their own families (one day, far far away)!

The advent calendars are a given... I had them, loved them, and this year the boys each got one from my parents, and again from PC's parents - which is fabulous as PC and I get a little piece of chocolate heaven everyday too!

I also found a fun non-chocolate, non-expensive countdown to do through the fabulous world of Pinterest. Thanks to Inviting Printables it was a free .jpg download of a bare Santa's beard, and it looked easy fun, so I thought we'd give it a try. 

E has been absolutely loving this one... all it requires is the 8 x10 print, some cotton balls, and some scrap-booking tape squares (or a glue stick would work just as well).  E likes it because its easy for him to do and its an awesome visual for him to see Ho-Ho's beard filling up as we get closer to Christmas. 

I also have another fun surprise filled countdown going on at our house too... its a bit more time consuming, and requires a bit of thought, but the excitement level for E is high, and I have to admit I'm having just as much fun with it.

Each day since December 1st, I have a spot upstairs with numbered pouches.... inside there is a clue that leads E to the special surprise.  Some days its just a sweet treat or small book, other nights its something pretty good like a puzzle or a little game. We usually do it before bedtime (unless its candy) and it gives E something to do first thing the next morning when I am still sleepy-eyed.  One of the surprises a week ago was our gingerbread kit... E was pretty pumped about it, and H loved displaying his brother's hard work!

I have made it my mission to have the clues rhyme, and some nights its a challenge, but 22 days in, I am on roll lately! This is one that I don't know if I can keep up with every year, but I will do my best! Next year, H will be able to participate too, so that will mean double the surprises (or perhaps alternating will be better).  This one can be a little pricey, but I had bought stocking stuffers for the boys and when I realized I wasn't going to need a lot of them (as the Grandma's spoil them with stockings) I decided to turn it into a surprise countdown. I have a feeling the only downfall to this one will be ... December 26th when its over!

One other little activity that has also be fun as we lead up to Christmas is Elf on the Shelf. Our elf is named Elvis (chosen by E who is a huge fan of Fireman Sam and friends). I wasn't sure if E would be into the concept, but let me tell you, he is all about Elvis and his whereabouts.

The first night we got it,  we watched the little story that goes along with it, and then read the book.  We named him, he got his magic, and the next morning when E woke up he was in tears as Elvis wasn't where we left him. I had to laugh! As I re-explained the concept to him, he was quick to catch on, and from that point forward its been a huge highlight of the day discovering where Elvis is lurking. He seems to like the light fixtures at our house!

All of the countdown to Christmas activities has been fun so far...  but they wouldn't be half as fun without the excitement and curiosity of a 3 and 1 year old. I think one of the exciting things about having children is reinventing the magic of the season when it comes to Christmas. It some much fun... and in a sense it renews my beliefs in the spirit of Christmas.

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