Hello again, my friends! It's a busy posting week here as we get our Advent season underway! This Friday I will host my first Advent Tea - and I am so excited about that! - but right now I'd like to share with you what we're doing for an Advent Calendar this year. (Daily activities are listed below.) I've teased a few pictures on FB and IG but here are ALL the details ... :)
Now, first of all, I cannot take credit for this idea. I first saw it on Pinterest as I searched for "nature-oriented Advent ideas" which led me to this lovely blog post by Kelly Rowe. As soon as I saw Kelly's Advent calendar project - which brilliantly utilizes an over-the-door, 24-pocket shoe organizer - I knew immediately we must do this! I am ALL about interesting visuals and hands-on holiday projects, so needless to say ... this really got my wheels turning!
First I ordered a plain plastic shoe-organizer from Amazon and hung it up in the kitchen. I did this before Thanksgiving to give it some time to air out. (Our guests were wondering what on earth we were getting up to!) Then I got my thinking cap on and started brainstorming our Advent activities.
Just like last year (and in Waldorf tradition - though that's not why I do it) I assigned each week of Advent an aspect of nature. So the weeks unfold like this: earth and sky (11/27-12/4), plants (12/5-12/11), animals (12/12-12/18) and humankind (12/19-12/25).
*Note: if you're wondering why I connect the two concepts - Advent and Nature - my reasons are explained in this post. :)
Next I listed liturgical feast days and natural phenomena such as the full moon and winter solstice ... as well as birthdays and any family/community events. Then I started brainstorming potential activities, going from pages of scattered notes to a more organized grid of 24 post-it notes, one for each day of each week:
As you can see in the picture above, I also added book titles to each day's note. Some of these we own, but many we request from the library. (Note to self - I've got to get on that!)
With our activities decided, it was time to get those 24 pockets filled! So after Thanksgiving I stopped by the craft store with a hefty supplies list in hand. Thankfully I had coupons, plus there were plenty of sales. It was a MADHOUSE though and about 10 minutes in ... I really just wanted to be done and go home! But I kept going and got most of the things I needed. (A few things will be ordered or picked up at a later date.) As you'll see in my activities list below, we don't really do candy or toys, but rather, simple crafts and seasonal projects. They might take a little more effort and preparation but I feel it's worth it ... :)
Now I'll admit I'm a bit like a kid in a candy store when I'm at the craft store. Can anyone relate, lol? I try so hard to stick to my list, but then I keep seeing all these neat things and envisioning all these "potential" projects - so I can hardly resist picking up extra supplies "just in case." Sometimes that turns out to be a good thing though, because an original idea might not work out right and something I picked up randomly might work even better. In any case, I am not ashamed to say I have a pretty healthy craft stash - but it all gets used in one way or another before too long.
Ok, enough of my explaining myself ... ;)
So now it was time to make that shoe organizer look pretty! So I tied a ribbon to each hook and wrote down the four weekly Advent candle themes (with a fabric marker) ...
And then I decorated and filled each pocket ...
On the front of each pocket is a small beige doily with a woodland-themed adhesive chipboard number. (They look like a slice of log with a little holly sprig and a red number.) I found these in the final moments of my HOUR-long craft store expedition! Just as I was about to give up on finding number stickers I liked, I stumbled across (literally) this last package dangling from a hook. And they are so perfect! If they had had a second package I would have bought more ...
Each pocket was then fitted with a small brown treat bag ...
... and then filled with a few simple items.
Some bags just have one or two things that will suggest what it is we'll be doing (while the bulk of the supplies are set aside).
I really, really love how this came out!
Now admittedly, it will be a challenge to keep my younger two boys out of these pockets! Earlybird (growing like a weed) can peek into most of them and Little Bear is just the right height (and age) to be filching through the lower bags whenever he gets a chance! So far though they are taking it to heart that they MUST keep their hands off ... and wait for it.
In the meantime, I have a "key" to all these bags and I will check in with it each night. If tomorrow's project doesn't seem "doable" (due to time, energy or weather) I will change things up before morning comes - by either switching bags around or changing a bag's contents for something simpler.
Now finally, here is the description of each pocket - organized by weekly themes and listed by ...
Date: (items found in the bag), activities for the day, the book we will read. :)
Week One: Earth and Sky (Hope)
12/2: (starfish) Make a shell ornament for the tree. Song of the Stars
12/3: (pipe cleaners, colorful beads) Make a star ornament. The Christmas Star
12/4: (decorative items and paint) Decorate a small vase for our St. Barbara's Day branches. Let's hope they bloom by Christmas! The Star Child
Week Two: Plants (Peace)
12/5: (silk poinsettia bloom) Field trip to the nursery to buy poinsettia plants. (gifts) It's so peaceful in the greenhouse. The Legend of the Poinsettia
12/6: (candy canes & cocoa packs) Enjoy a special St. Nicholas Day treat! The Baker's Dozen: A Colonial American Tale
12/8: (apple, small star cookie cutter) Enjoy a cup of spiced cider and grind spices for "glogg." The Tomten
12/9: (muslin spice bags, cinnamon stick, lemon) Fill spice bags (gifts) and help make a dried fruit garland. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
12/10: (evergreen sprig) Make salt dough ornaments (with evergreen impressions), make silver pinecones (gifts). Cobweb Christmas
12/11: (red candles): Walk with dad to find our yule log in the woods. Isn't it peaceful out here? Christmas Farm
Week Three: Animals (Joy)
12/12: (polar bear wooden ornament) Let's learn about the arctic! What can we do to help the polar bear? Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve?
12/13: (reindeer lantern) Field trip to a local farm to see the lovely herd of reindeer. The Wild Christmas Reindeer
12/14: (new train ornament and "15" candles) Happy Birthday, EB! Here's the story of when you were born ... ❤ A Night of Great Joy
12/15: (colored Christmas light bulbs) Look outside - our solstice tree is all lit up! We hope the critters enjoy! Night Tree
12/16: (baby food jar, white glitter) Make a snowglobe. Decorate the solstice tree with edible ornaments. The Animals' Santa
12/17: (beeswax) Make candle jars and rolled candles. (gifts) An Early American Christmas
12/18: (mitten-shaped cookie cutter) Bake sugar cookies with Mom. The Mitten
Week Four: Humankind (Love)
12/19: (jingle bell ornament) Watch the Polar Express as a family. Discuss trust. The Polar Express
12/20: (clementine) Bake clementine snowball cookies and watch The Snowman. Discuss friendship. An Orange for Frankie
12/21: (snowflake cupcake liners) Bake "welcome winter" cupcakes. Discuss comfort. Sleep Tight Farm
12/22: (nativity ornament) As night falls, a surprise in the garden (new nativity figures under spotlight). Discuss family. B is for Bethlehem
12/23: (frame ornament) Make a family picture ornament for the tree. Discuss love. The Christmas Story
12/24: (felt heart shape) Make a scented heart tree ornament (stuffed with wool and herbs). Discuss giving. The Christmas Baby
Ok so that was a very long post! But I hope you enjoyed hearing about our Advent Calendar project this year and that maybe you found a few new ideas for your family. I am really looking forward to giving a little of my time and energy each day this Advent to this project. I think my children will enjoy it - I KNOW I will enjoy it. I know it probably sounds like a lot, but truly, these are all simple activities. They won't take up too much of our day. We have a few other Advent rituals planned and I will discuss them a bit more in my Tea post on Friday ...
What a wonderful season this is! So rich with potential and promise ... a wonderful time to shape how our children view the world. The one they live in at home and the one they face when they step outside their doors. My HOPE is that I bring a little peace, a little joy and a whole lot of LOVE into their Advent journey. So grateful to have these days before us!
So enjoy the rest of your evening, my friends! I will see you here again very soon ... later on Friday ... with a cup of tea and some pics to share ... and more thoughts on this most wonderful time of the year. :)
Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... see you here again very soon!