Has anyone ever asked you, “How do you guys do Christmas?” Between family traditions, gift budgets, and the like Christmas looks a little different at everyone’s house. So I thought it would be fun to share how we’re celebrating the season at our house this year.
Last year we tried one of those craft an ornament and read a Bible story a day advent calendars and failed at it. Lucy was a little too young and [honestly] the ornaments were a little too ugly for me to get excited about. I’d spent about $15 on the various craft supplies required so I was a bit annoyed to admit we were advent drop outs before mid-December.
This year we’re trying something a little different. I’ve been scouring the thrift stores and used book sales [as well as raiding our own bookshelves] and I found 24 [because we’ll be reading the story of Jesus’ birth on Christmas morning] books that are either Christmas related or have a lesson I’d like the kids to be reminded of this time of year. Each morning we’ll open a book and read it, then we’ll perform the “activity” listed on the tag. I was able to find some amazing book bargains at the thrift stores, so it took less than $5 to have enough books to wrap. Here’s our booklist:
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Where is Baby’s Christmas Present by Karen Katz
I Spy: Christmas by Jean Marzollo
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
Jingle The Christmas Clown by Tomie dePaola
Dream Big, Little Pig! by Kristi Yamaguchi
The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Wake Up Bear, It’s Christmas! by Stephen Gammell
Arthur’s Christmas by Marc Brown
Tiny the Snow Dog by Cari Meister
Corduroy’s Christmas Surprise by Don Freeman
Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans
If You Take A Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
A Very Mater Christmas by Frank Berrios
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rick Bunsen
Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Berenstain Bears Get The Gimmes by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Little Shephard’s Christmas by Carol Heyer
Moosletoe by Margie Palatini
Christmas Time Is Here [Little People book] by Ellen Weiss
Muddypaws’ First Christmas by Moira Butterfield
I made some of the activities a little easier since I’ll be in the hospital having a baby [!!] and miss a few of them. Though, thankfully, Mimi has generously volunteered to keep the advent spirit going in my absence. Here’s our activity list [geared towards a 2 and 4 year old]:
Go ice skating.
Go see our neighborhood Santa.
Read the story of Jesus’ birth.
Help mama clean.
Make Christmas decorations.
Make a birthday cake for Jesus.
Sing Christmas songs [x2].
Make bookmarks for grandparents.
Take a nature walk.
Make a living wreath.
Watch a Christmas movie [x2].
Make coffee filter snowflakes.
Make a garland for Cohen.
Make hot chocolate.
Deliver cookies [and visit with] elderly neighbors.
Make cards for small group.
Lucy’s birthday party.
Church Christmas party.
Make decorations for little tree.
Color Christmas tags.
We’ll be counting down the days with the handmade advent calendar we made last year [because those kiddos sure do need a visual representation of time passing!].
Another tradition we’re starting this year is the idea of three gifts for each kid. I got this idea from my friend Melonnie and I just think it’s so smart. And it’s totally going to work for our family. In the past I’ve filled the bottom of the tree with random presents bought on super sale throughout the year. There were a lot of presents. I mean, a lot. But they were less than meaningful. I felt like I was just seeking out a “deal”. This year, perhaps because the kids are a little older and actually requesting specific things, the three gift rule makes sense. To give you an idea of what I mean, Lucy’s getting a tub of Legos . There are a couple different sets we’ll be giving her but I found the tub at a rummage sale over the summer and bought it knowing the kids would eventually want it. A few months ago, Lucy began specifically asking for them so I found a couple more sets on sale [like the princess starter set that’s geared towards 4-7 year olds] and scooped them up for a steal. So Christmas morning she’ll get a big tub of Lego building goodness, some of them well-loved and some of them new. She’s also getting a special doll . Not an American Girl doll [again, she’ll be four] but the Target Our Generation version and a few outfits to dress her in. I’ve been holding on to this doll for a while. I bought it because it was on clearance, but waited to give it to her until I felt like she could appreciate it and take care of it [read: not immediately undress her and frizz up her hair]. I think she’s ready and I think she’s going to go nuts! And lastly, she picked out for herself the Melissa and Doug Felt Sandwich Set . She’s really into taking orders for her play kitchen right now, so I can see the appeal of a set that gives her options for her “customers”. It’s a little funny to me that she requested it and went with me to pick it out but she’s a gal who knows what she wants. :) So it’s not that she’s getting three items exactly, but three sets I guess.
Knowing I wanted three gifts for each kid made it seem “fair” and a little bit easier to narrow down what to give them. Because, you know, Christmas is totally not about giving my kids gifts. :)