December is a month like none other. There are decorations to dig out of the basement and distribute through the house. There is a 5-page list of friends and loved ones for whom to buy gifts. There are numerous activities, special events, and parties to attend.
A couple of years ago, I brought out the Advent calendar wall hanging that I had been using since my oldest child was a baby. The previous years I had filled each little pocket with some kind of sugary holiday treat. That year, I wanted to find something to stuff in those little pockets that would not add to the possible decay in my children’s baby teeth. After I had spent several hours planning our family’s event calendar, printing Christmas coloring pages and craft ideas, and researching the local holiday happenings, the perfect solution came to me. I combined the beauty of an advent calendar with the desire to fill our holidays with all of the wonderful aspects of tradition and family.
I printed a December calendar page and began to fill in all dates with the things I knew we had to do (party at neighbor’s house, church on Christmas Eve). Next, I filled in all dates with the things I knew were holiday musts (buying/decorating a tree, baking cookies, driving around to see the lights). Finally, I thought of all the things that help make the holidays jolly (the Nutcracker, crafts, Christmas movies and books). Before I knew it, my entire December was planned out and I no longer had to worry about letting the season slip by me. All I had left to do was to fill the Advent calendar with folded slips of paper. If you have young children, I highly recommend leaving slips blank and filling them in each night before bed. I have always had to rearrange activities somewhat to allow for spontaneity. When we come downstairs for breakfast in the morning, the first thing they say is, “What is in our calendar today?” Will it be an activity, a baking project, a holiday craft, a way to give to friends and neighbors, or a day to learn about other’s holiday rituals and beliefs? One thing is for sure, it is probably something that we would have squeezed out of the holiday season anyway, but it is made more fun in countdown fashion.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can hundreds of lists, checklists, and planning pages (including a blank December calendar page and an Advent Planner page) to put your world-and your holidays-in order.
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