This year we wanted to add more meaningful traditions to the Christmas season. These are a few of the ideas I've run with. I chose things that build anticipation, express the true meaning of Christmas and are fun!
This is the calandar that I made out of felt. I sewed the pockets so that they would be 3" square. If you don't know how to sew or don't enjoy it, I'm sure you can find one at a store somewhere!
1. Advent calendar. I looked into buying one, but I decided it would be fun to make it myself. You can use felt for the ornaments, but my family is into Sculpey (a bakable colored clay) so I made the ornaments out of this. On the back of each ornament is a number and a verse that corresponds. I got all of the symbol ideas and verses from an old out of print book called "Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in your Holidays" by Ann Hibbard. Each night during family devotions, a child will get to be the one to take out the ornament and read the back, then we can read the verse and sing the appropriate Christmas carol and put it on the tree.
2. Advent candles. I bought 4 pillar candles at the dollar tree, one that is different from the others to be the Christ candle that we light on Christmas Eve. We will do a little candle lighting ceremony each Sunday in December with them.
3. Mailbox. I bought a $4.99 wooden mailbox at Michaels Crafts to put goodies and messages in. (It has a wooden flag to put up when there's mail inside!)I will either trade who gets to "get the mail" every morning, or have my 3 year old do the honors of passing out the treats. I bought a variety of fun chocolates from Europe, peppermint taffy etc to vary what is in there each day. Some days I will come up with a fun activity instead like making cookies for neighbors or playing a board game. I'm just going to wing it, but they will hold me to doing it EVERY DAY I'm sure!! I thought I would also encourage them to leave one another gifts and notes in it too.
4. Jesus Stocking. Hang a stocking to collect bills and change throughout the month from every member of the family. Anyone can slip their gifts secretly into the stocking. On Christmas we empty the Jesus stocking and see how much money has been "stocked" away to give to the charity or our families choice. (We love Gospel for Asia's Gift Catalog www.gfa.org for lots of gift ideas for the poor.