Tuesday, December 9, 2008
My 3-year-old was busy drawing at the dining room table this evening. When I happened by, he ordered me out of the room, so I headed to the kitchen to start dinner. (Silly me, I thought he might be working on a special picture for Mommy.)
But the silence lasted way too long. I peeked around the corner and spotted him shoveling little chocolates into his mouth as fast as he could pry open the cardboard doors on his Advent calendar.
When will I ever learn. Kids + quiet = nothing good.
I guess the damage wasn’t too extensive: I stopped him at “15.”
Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days till Christmas, giving children a sweet reminder of the special event to come.
When I was growing up, a friend’s mom hung a felt Advent calendar with tiny boxes pinned to it in the entryway of their home. Each day on the way to school, I’d ask her what little treasure she had gotten that morning. Sometimes it was a peppermint, sometimes a Hershey’s kiss or a butterscotch disc. Oh, how I wished that my family had the same tradition!
So when it was my turn to create holiday traditions for my own family, I added the Advent calendar to my repertoire.
I usually take the lazy route: Around Thanksgiving, I purchase the standard cardboard variety filled with 24 little chocolates, found for about $2 at either Trader Joe’s or Dorothy Lane Market. On the morning of Dec. 1, I have a calendar waiting patiently at each child’s breakfast plate, and I am rewarded with wide-eyed surprise, hugs, kisses and smiles all around.
But your Advent options don’t stop there.
The creative people at Playmobil sent along their 2008 pirate-themed Advent calendar stuffed with every little boy’s dream booty, featuring a treasure chest, cannon, boat, ship’s cat and pirate captain (complete with sword and parrot, of course).
The set sells for about $17, and the company also makes other Advent sets including “Knight’s Duel,” “Christmas in the Forest” (with lots of little critters), and a “Unicorn Paradise” that is pink personified.
Not to be outdone, LEGO also offers their own take on a toy-filled Christmas calendar, which retails for about $30.
A quick search on the Internet found a plethora of other possibilities. Here are a few:
DLTK’s Web site lists instructions for several calendars, including one for a cotton-ball bearded Santa and another made with toilet paper rolls (!)
The Etsy site had an awesome calendar idea you could replicate at home with numbered envelopes, clothespins and string. Instead of candy and toys, these could be filled with Advent meditations or activity vouchers, maybe for an ice skating session at RiverScape or a family sledding outing.
Chinaberry offers a lovely wooden calendar at the heirloom price of $85.
Diane Gilleland, a contributor on craftstylish, offers easy-to-follow instructions for a button calendar that becomes a one-of-a-kind table decoration.
And finally, on Alpha+Mom, blogger Isabel Kallman serves up a heapin’ helpin’ of Advent and Hanukkah calendar ideas.
Put these in your memory bank for next year. It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas.