Thursday, December 6, 2012

Our new advent calendar

This new advent calendar was created by putting together ideas from two different sources. The looks of it, made from a mini muffin pan, came from Family Fun Magazine (of course!:). It is sooo cute; we just love it! 

For the circles, I used leftover Christmas wrap from last year. Then I glued them onto magnetic sheets. The circle magnets that cover the holes are approximately 2-1/2 inches in diameter, but you might want to measure your tin to see if this measurement works. You want to cover the holes completely, but you don't want a lot of overlap between all of the circles. I stamped numbers onto the smaller circles made from scrap booking paper. They measure about an inch in diameter. 

Here's a look at this fun project....

The directions say to fill each hole with a trinket, candy or fun thing to do. While I like those ideas, I also wanted things that were meaningful....meaning that I didn't want to fill it up mostly with candy and trinkets!

I started thinking about the Christmas traditions that we like to do and wondered if those could be put into this calendar. Then, Money Saving Mom  shared with her readers a sale on a DVD and pdf book. For only $10 including shipping, I bought the Why Do We Call it Christmas? dvd and the book, Everyday Emmanuel from this website. 

The book is mostly comprised of ideas on how to celebrate advent by focusing on the real meaning of Christmas and making precious family memories. Using some of their ideas, I listed 24 things that I wanted to do with my family this season. Some only take a few minutes during the day, while a few are fun outings and projects to do together. The girls will still get a treat here and there with the piece of paper that says what we'll do, but it isn't the focus. I like that they look forward to each day's event, but they're not getting too hyper with that upcoming party or event. It's always a "last minute" surprise and it's great!:)

Here are the things we have already begun or will do. If you know our girls and see them regularly, please don't tell them! Shhhhh......

1. Christmas party put on by our foster care agency
2. What God Wants for Christmas, part 1 (an interactive nativity by Family Life Publishing)
3. Buy the girls their Christmas ornament for the year
4. Give mailman a holiday treat
5. What God Wants for Christmas, part 2
6. See the Christmas lights in our community
7. Go to Journey to Bethlehem (an event put on by the church that hosts our M.O.P.S. group)
8. Make gifts for school teacher, nursery workers and MOPS teachers with girls
9. What God Wants for Christmas, part 3
10. Finish making presents and wrap gifts while listening to Christmas music
11. Watch new Christmas movie, Why Do We Call it Christmas?
12. What God Wants for Christmas, part 4
13. Dad and Alyzza have a coin club Christmas party/I will help Little S buy presents for family
14. Play Christmas game/Uno
15. Build paper nativity set and/or decorate church reception hall for party on Sunday
16. What God Wants for Christmas #'s 5 and 6
17. Alyzza's Christmas program at school
18. Put on a Christmas puppet show
19. Make treats for neighbors
20. Christmas caroling and give treats to neighbors and possibly shut-ins
21. Our Christmas (we are going to TN in a few days....)
22. Drink yummy peppermint hot chocolate
23. What God Wants for Christmas, #7
24. Special activity to do on the plane trip to TN (probably a busy bag or activity book)

Other ideas can include....playing together in the snow (we just haven't had any in a while, but probably will put it in and take something out of my list), make snow ice cream, read a Christmas book, etc. We have begun reading Christmas books when we do our reading time, since we have so many to choose from, and it's fun to read them all during this time of year.

So, there you have it! A fun new way to do an advent calendar while keeping it meaningful, inexpensive and full of family fun!

More to come on some of the projects and recipes we will be doing as part of this calendar's events....stay tuned....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Our Christmas decorations have been up for a week now, so I thought it should be time for a little tour....

If you were to visit our home, this is what you would see hanging on the door. Then, moving around the two front rooms, you'll see....

...this tree and snowman garland,

our kid-friendly nativity set I made for a M.O.P.S. craft,

a snowman nativity set, a snowman countdown and some scrabble tiles that say, "O Come let us adore Him,"

Winnie-the-Pooh window clings sent to us in a fun package from Q's parents,

the nativity set my mom gave me 13 years ago that began my collection of nativities (see how many you can count from this post!),

the nativity advent calendar that we are enjoying already,

a new way to hang up our Christmas cards using some wide candy cane ribbon,

(a close up view of my first card; it came from Alyzza:)

a nativity picture made completely from fabric (I love handmade touches around our home),

a few knick-knacks,

blocks that spell out, "Merry Christmas,"

an interactive nativity set and a Precious Moments one that plays music,

Noel blocks, mini trees and a Willow tree angel,

three wise men with Mary and baby Jesus,

an angel collection on top of one of our book cases (two of the angels are handmade gifts from friends),

our Christmas book basket (we're enjoying reading from this collection already!),

a light-up snowflake (another gift from Q's parents),

snuggly snowmen that the girls can play with,

and finally, a snowman village on top of the other book case. The picture of our tree didn't come out right, but another one was shown in my last post with Alyzza decorating it.:)

Did you count how many nativities I have? I just love having that as my theme at Christmas time. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!