I’m sure it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Christmas (as evidenced by my blog title). I’ll admit that we’ve already been listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies for several weeks, and we put up all of our Christmas decorations about a week and a half ago:). Yes, I’m a “pre-Thanksgiving Christmas celebrator” and I always have been. I’m not ashamed! I try to contain myself and not get too carried away, but I just can’t help it! So, as you can probably guess, this time of year is MY JAM. I love it! I love the cooler weather, the decorations, the music, the movies, the food, the time with friends and family, the magic of it all…it’s just so special to me! Since having kids I’ve truly enjoyed coming up with new traditions and new ways to celebrate this season with them. Seeing Christmas through their eyes makes it even more enjoyable and wonderful.
A couple of years ago I tried a Christmas countdown with my kids. That first year we enjoyed it so much that I decided to make it a yearly tradition. So, each year on December 1st, the countdown begins!
I wanted to do a countdown to Christmas so I could be intentional about taking time each day to talk about Jesus and why we celebrate this season, and to enjoy and savor each day with my babies! Even though I love this time of year, I don’t want to lose our focus by creating major expectations about presents or forget what really is important. I want my kids to enjoy this season because of Jesus, and to count our blessings and appreciate the time we get to spend together. In our Christmas countdown, I wanted to include fun activities, as well as opportunities to show kindness to others. And, selfishly, I wanted to make the days leading up to Christmas more exciting and memorable!
That first year, I didn’t have the time or money to order any sort of professionally-made, “Pinterest-worthy” Christmas countdown calendar. So, I just planned to make one. I purchased a whole bunch of Christmas-themed stickers and stationary and decided to get a little crafty…..Now I am NOT a crafty person in any way, shape, or form, so my plan was to just use this homemade one for the first year and then purchase a better one for the next year. I stayed up till after 5am on December 1st of that year making and planning our countdown. Each envelope included scripture for us to read that morning, and a fun activity or act of kindness for us to do that day. I also planned to include a few small treats a couple of days during the countdown (Christmas pjs, a Christmas book or DVD, etc.). And when I was finished (and exhausted) I was so proud of my work. I looked at the envelopes and thought about how much love had gone into each one. I imagined the kids opening each one and imagined how excited they would be about having those envelopes to look forward to each day. And I imagined those envelopes still being here years from now and I hoped that my kids would see those un-professionally-made, worn, torn, aged envelopes and they would have wonderful memories surrounding each one, and, maybe, that they would desire to do this same tradition with their own children because they enjoyed it so much. So, I decided to keep those envelopes and forget about ordering a nicer set. Mine were just perfect how they were!
This year, I wanted to share a little of what we do with you. Maybe you’ve never done a Christmas countdown and you’re considering it. Maybe you’re looking for ideas for your own Christmas countdown. Maybe the idea of a Christmas countdown hasn’t even entered your brain! Either way, I would love to tell you a little of what we do this time of year!
**I’m going to be honest with you: this year has been a tough one for me. I’m dealing with quite a few changes and struggles and I’m doing my best to learn and grow during this time. But, regardless of what hardships or dark times are present or what may lay ahead, I still so desire to seize each moment, surround myself with the people I love, and live my life to the fullest, and I want to teach my kids to do the same. So, we are going to enjoy this season and make good memories NO MATTER WHAT!
I realize it’s already December 1st, but it’s not too late to get started! Below is a list of things we include (or have included in the past) and a few ideas for you to add to your own countdown:
- Christmas jammies for everyone (my kids and I are obsessed with jammies, so we always do this on December 1st so we can enjoy them for the whole Christmas season)
- Christmas books/DVDs (I stock up on these for super cheap at McKay’s Used Books during the year and I have enough to give them a book or DVD a couple of times during the countdown)
- Take a treat to a friend (we do this more than once each Christmas)
- Deliver dinner or dinner ingredients to a family we love
- Make gingerbread houses
- Christmas ornament shopping (each year everyone in our family picks out a new Christmas ornament to hang on the tree…it makes our tree so special)
- Give a toy to a local toy drive
- Take hot chocolate to someone in the cold (someone collecting money for The Salvation Army, construction workers, police officers, anyone who has to be in the cold for a long period of time)
- Christmas shop with the kids for their gifts to each other
- Go to look at the lights and decorations at Opryland Hotel
- Deliver “coffeegrams” (we drive up, they come out with their cup and fill up with coffee and homemade creamer) to our friends (this is something I’ve started doing during the year, so this is our first Christmas to do it!)
- Christmas movies in our pjs all day!!!!
- Stay up late to make and drink hot chocolate:)
- Make a Christmas craft
- Surprise them after they’re bathed and have on their pj’s by hopping in the car to drive around and look at Christmas lights (this will be our first year to do this!)
- Have a baking day with grandparents (we love this!)
- Christmas slumber party (right now, it’s just Jud that partakes in this, but the girls will probably be old enough next year:))
- Take cookies to a local nursing home/assisted living home
- Take a treat or handmade craft to elderly relatives
- Make and send a Christmas card to someone we love (we do this more than once each year)
- Find a local charity, ask what their specific needs for the season are, and help provide it (again, we do this more than once each Christmas)
As you can see, we don’t do anything crazy or elaborate. We keep it simple and fun and easy to execute. My kids look forward to this each year and I find that it makes all of us enjoy the season just a little bit more. I’ve also found that it makes Christmas day even more special, because it’s more about our time together, and what we’re doing, and not so much about what presents we’re getting.
If you’re looking for more ideas for a Christmas countdown, or you want to include more acts of kindness in your countdown, or you want more scripture or more of an Advent, or just more inspiration and encouragement for this time of year, I suggest the following:
- The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
- Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience
- In Honor of Design, “Inside Our Advent Gift Box”
- Sarah Bessey’s blog posts, “Advent: for the ones who know longing” and “Hope: for the first Sunday of Advent”
- The 36th Avenue (this blog has great Christmas tradition ideas, and it’s also where I got my scripture verses that I use each day)
- And, my personal favorite, my dear friend, Jen’s yearly “Kindness Advent” over on her blog, Song and Story. She’ll be posting each day this month so you’ll get some great ideas of ways to spread kindness!
Hopefully you’re encouraged and inspired! May your Christmas season be filled with hope, love, togetherness, delicious food, snuggly times, and more!