I know we’re a few days into December and celebrating Advent, but better late than never to share our DIY Advent Calendar, and a few ideas on how to make this season more intentional. I’m a big believer in the magic of Christmas and filling this time of year with as much tradition and coziness as possible. But it’s so easy to get caught up in the materialism and the gifts and the things that we lose track of what we’re really celebrating, and we keep our eyes on ourselves.
With all this in mind, while keeping this Christmas season fun, I wanted to do accomplish a few things: teach the girls more about Christ’s birth and coming again, help move our eyes away from ourselves and onto others, and take time to intentionally be present with my family! I had been wanting to make an Advent Calendar for years, but never got around to it. But since the girls are older now and understand so much more, I decided this was the year to start! It took me a while to put together this year’s calendar, but I’m so happy I did!
For each day, we have an assigned reading along with an activity or act of kindness to celebrate. One of my goals was to connect as a family or community this season. So we’re caroling at a nursing home, making recycled egg carton ornaments to give as gifts, baking cookies for our police department, inviting college students into our home for cookie baking, etc. Not every activity involves leaving the house; that would be insane for me, we’d be way too busy, and I wouldn’t necessarily be present with my children. The activities also serve as “school” for the day and act as a learning experience, and most help the girls take their eyes off themselves and ONTO serving others! The full list for each day is included below.
We’re only 4 days into celebrating, but I’ve cherished the time we have all sat down together to open the box and read together. That was one of my intentions for this season: taking time to be together as a family and teach the girls about Christ’s birth, the real reason we do any of this! Being present with my kids and husband. Just being with them. I may continue this into the new year, with more intentional activities and acts for each month, rather than haphazardly going through our days with random, unintentional and distracted projects. If I prepare and shop for the month’s activities all at once, it makes life much easier!
As for the design, I had been tossing around a few ideas, and it actually came together kinda randomly. We had car trouble on our way back from New Jersey last month, and while Joe looked at the van, I took the girls on a little adventure walk. We came across these beautiful pinecones and we grabbed as many as we could. They seemed perfect for a project with the girls! Once we got home and I brainstormed the calendar more, I decided to incorporate the pinecones and little square cardboard boxes. I bought all the boxes at Michael’s, on Black Friday. They were 60% off, which was a super good deal! However, they didn’t have enough boxes in stock, so I decided to use the circular boxes and the houses, along with the square boxes in assorted sizes. That’s how it turned into a magical little pinecone forest and cardboard village. Unintentional, but I love the way it turned out!
I took a poll on instagram stories about whether I should glitter the pinecone trees and paint the houses and the overwhelming response was yes to both. And about 75% of folks said to paint the houses white. So, to please the masses, I glittered the trees and painted the houses. The girls and a blast with the painting and glueing and glitter sprinkling and “snow” sticking.
The calendar is super simple to make, but a bit time consuming (especially with kids), but totally worth it, in my opinion! To make your own, collect these supplies and follow the steps below.
1. Using the hot glue gun, attach pinecones to cardboard boxes. This is one of the most time consuming parts since you need to hold each pinecone in place until the glue dries thoroughly, to keep the trees upright.
2. Paint the tips of the pinecone with school glue and sprinkle with glitter. We used a yummy chunky silver glitter.
3. Pull batting apart into tiny, fluffy pieces, then spread glue along top of cardboard boxes, at the base of the trees. Stick batting to glued area to cover lids.
4. Paint houses (if using) with white acrylic paint. It took to coats for us (and it’s not perfect).
5. Glue numbers to boxes using hot glue gun.
6. Write out scriptures/activities on paper. Collect any supplies or gifts for including inside boxes. Stuff boxes, and enjoy celebrating this season!
December 1: Attend Purcellville Town Tree Lighting with cousins
December 2: Have college girls over to bake cookies (new cookie cutters)
December 3: Make recycled egg carton ornaments to give as gifts
December 4: Make orange peel ornaments and drink hot chocolate (thrifted mugs)
December 5: Make felt Nativity scene
December 6: Make present for babysitter (ceramic dish set)
December 7: Write Christmas cards to soldiers
December 8: Go to library and take out books on Christmas & Winter
December 9: Attend Purcellville Christmas parade
December 10: Make popcorn garland for tree (popcorn, needle & thread)
December 11: Decorate wrapping paper to wrap gifts for cousins (paint)
December 12: Make wisemen crowns
December 13: Bake scones and have Christmas tea party
December 14: Make clay ornaments (sculpey clay)
December 15: Bake cookies & make cards
December 16: Deliver cookies to Purcellville Police Department
December 17: Go on a family hike and collect wintry things (new hat and mittens)
December 18: Drive around town and see Christmas lights
December 19: Road trip to NJ to spend Christmas with family (bring library books)
December 20: Make cards for Gigi and Pepe with cousins
December 21: Have lunch with Gigi and Pepe and extended family;
December 22: Go ice skating with cousins (ice skate ornaments)
December 23: Go caroling at nursing home with cousins
December 24: Make gingerbread houses & wear new Christmas pjs to bed (candy)
December 25: Christmas & brunch with family!
You can download our Intentional Christmas List here, which includes our family’s 20 favorite activities for a slow, intentional Christmas!
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