For the last couple of years I’ve used a beautiful fabric advent calendar that my mum made to plan out a set of activities for the boys. Of course they never all go quite as planned, but we have a great time not eating chocolate. Previously I was more organised and bought them each a little something each day – a small toy, a little chocolate treat, a book, a homemade ticket for a movie, just a little treat each day. But in the interests of not buying tat or lots of unrecyclable stuff that won’t get used, I’ve stopped all that. Instead, we have a treat each day. Some of them are quick and easy to fit around school and evening activities. Some are a bit more involved.
This year, I’m replanning, using the lists from the last couple of years with some changes. Here are some of the bigger things we’ll be doing.
- Letters to Santa
For one thing, small boy is now able to write a letter himself and it’ll help us with any last minute ideas for stocking fillers and whatnot. I’m hoping to persuade the boys to tell Santa what good deeds they’ve done this year too. It’s good to look back and reflect on what we’ve done.
- Choose a charity to give a Christmas donation
We’ve done this each year for the last few years. We’ve donated to our local charity for families with children with additional needs, to Duchenne UK and to a friend’s personal fundraising to support her son with DMD. Two years ago large boy supported Water Aid and small boy chose Shelter. One year they both chose the RSPB. Last year they delighted in donating an Oxfam pile of poo. This year they’ll get to choose any charity they like and we’ll donate some money on their behalf. Then I have to remember to select the option to not receive mail shots. I swear all the money we donate gets spent on postage for sending us more donation requests.
- Tea in front of TV
Can’t go wrong with pizza or cheese toasties on the sofa!
- Christmas movies
I love Polar Express and I do wonder whether I’d persuade the boys to watch White Christmas as that’s one of my favourites as well. We don’t have a strong tradition to watch specific movies but we’ve always indulged in as many Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler adaptations as possible, that phase is sadly long gone. Large boy has been pestering to watch The Grinch for a while, maybe we can invent a special family traditional watch like ET or something.
- McDonald’s lunch
We don’t indulge in a crappy nutritional burger and banana-flavoured-no-matter-what-you-ask-for milkshake very often. But we do usually have one as a service station meal on our way somewhere over the Christmas period. I think we’ll have a really lazy lunch one day after swimming.
- Putting the Christmas tree up
I refuse to put the tree up before large boy’s birthday. My brother’s birthday is early December too so I grew up with the tree going up halfway through the month. I just don’t want all that sparkle and the threat of glitter for any longer than absolutely necessary.
- Christmas themed home disco
Its just not Christmas without some cheesy music and suspiciously bad dancing. We’ll put on a compilation or ask Alexa to choose a playlist and boogie around the living room like idiots. That’s when I feel like Christmas is really getting going. Large boy loves Last Christmas and knows most of the words, it’s brilliant. Small boy has been asking for a disco lately, so I’m sure he’ll be really pleased.
- Christmas cards for family
We’ve avoided sending Christmas cards to everyone we know for the last few years and this year won’t be any different. We’ll write cards to the grandparents and great-grandma and to himself’s aunt and probably my aunts and uncles too. Most likely to our two best sets of friends who live far away and their kids as well. I might even write a little newsy letter and put in some pictures too this year, if I’m organised enough – which is doubtful.
- The Night Before Christmas for their bedtime story
I love this classic story, it rhymes and just makes me feel all cosy and warm and comforted. I don’t think my parents read it to me, so its not nostalgia. The boys enjoy it too and its one of those traditions which is easy to make and easy to forget, but so valuable and embraced by us all.
- Christmas eve boxes
An acquaintance made us some Christmas Eve boxes several years ago. They weren’t very good, so in 2020 year I painted them bright colours. Anyway, we fill them with new pyjamas, a book each, maybe a craft, and some bits and bobs for Santa and his Reindeer. We’ve got gorgeous plates with the boys’ names on and spaces for sherry, a pie and a carrot. We’ve managed to share Christmas Eve with their cousins a couple of times in the last few years and that’s been really lovely. This year they’ll join us on Boxing Day, not quite the same magic but still very special.
The Planned Activities
As I write this it’s the middle of November so I’ve got 2 weeks to dig out the fabric calendar and the cards, sort out the ones we can still use and make up new ones until we have 24 again. I’ve had a good look at the calendar to help decide which treat goes with which days, so that weekends get the busy, fun stuff and weekdays when I’m likely to work late get the quick and easy ones (like TV pizza dinners and extra screen time). The hole in the puzzle is that I don’t yet know when the school panto visit will be.
- Chocolate advent calendars
- Large boy’s birthday party
- Fry up for dinner
- Christmas log
- Christmas film
- Christmas cards
- TV tea
- Library trip (not a Christmas treat but always popular)
- Teachers’ gifts
- Christmas tree up and decorate
- Charity choosing
- Polar Express
- Christmas indie disco
- TV tea
- Christmas film
- McDonald’s lunch
- Walk and hot chocolate
- Make snowmen
- National Trust
- The Night Before Christmas
- Wrap presents for family
- Christmas day dessert preparation
- Christmas Eve boxes
Then on 1st December, a Thursday this year, I’ll hang the calendar while the boys are at school so they can discover the first surprise when they get in.
Do you do anything special for advent? I’d love to hear what you get up to.
(I am not saying merry you-know-what, it’s still November FFS!)