Yes, today is the last day of November and I just now finished our advent calendar. Any other procrastinators out there or is it just me? :) If you waited until the last minute like I did, the idea behind this advent is super easy - just roll out one of those 24-pocket over the door shoe organizers, fill it up with something fun, and you're good to go!
You can get the kind with fabric pockets if you want and use fabric paint or a Sharpie to put a number on the front. I chose to do a How The Grinch Stole Christmas theme that I saw over at Chica and Jo which requires one with clear pockets (I found mine at Walmart for about $8). The link above has printable cards that you slide into each pocket with the print side facing the door and a number on the blank side....
...then each day after you remove the present, you flip the card over and there is a portion of the Grinch book to read. Then you slide the Grinch into the pocket that the gift just came from and it looks like he is going in each day and stealing one of the presents. Adorable, right?! In Chica and Jo's calendar they have a little stuffed Grinch which is so much cuter but I haven't been able to track one down yet so for now we just have a picture of him to tuck into the pocket.
Right about now I'm sure some of you are thinking that 24 presents is insane...and you would be right. Only a few of these actually have a gift in them and even those are handmade or from the dollar store. The rest are activities that we can do together. I thought it would be fun for him to have something to unwrap though so for each one I wrapped something related to the activity.
I made up admission tickets for our family movie night and printed them out onto a piece of cardstock. Feel free to grab the image above and print out your own.
Some of the days have activities that we are going to do as a family. For those, I printed out the activity and tucked the card into an old jewelry box or one of the other random little boxes that I collect for no good reason. Finally they have a purpose! Awhile back we received some junk mail from a car dealership that included a fake car key and I tossed into my crafty junk box. It seemed like the perfect thing to include in our box about driving around to see the Christmas lights. :)
I included a little photo in some of them like this one. There is a local farm that has reindeer and they give tours this time of year so you can visit Santa's reindeer while they are in town. We have never been there before but it sounds like fun!
Since schedules change, I wrote a number on the back of each package with a sharpie. Then I made up a spreadsheet with a list of what is in each one so that I can double check the night before and make sure that we will have enough time for that activity the next day. If not, I can swap it out with a different one.
If you need some ideas on what to fill your calendar with, here is a list of what is in ours along with what I wrapped up:
1. Shop for Christmas socks (Jer's idea) - a note with a picture of socks. You could also just wrap up the socks but I didn't have time to get them and I thought he might have fun picking them out himself
2. Visit Santa's reindeer - see photo above
3. Make a Pinecone Christmas tree - supplies for the craft (I threw in tiny pom poms instead of making my own felted wool balls)
4. Write a letter to Santa - I printed out special stationary from X-Mas Coloring Pages
5. Build a Mentos Geyser - we picked up the special tube attachment in the stocking stuffer section of Target a few years back but you could just wrap a tube of Mentos.
6. Shop for Mommy & Daddy - Jer LOVES giving people gifts. Usually he "shops" his toy collection but there is a local charity that sets up a little store and the kids get to go in with a volunteer and shop for a little gift ($2-8) while mom and dad wait outside so that the kids can surprise them. The flyer has a spot where you can specify the age of the kid that they are shopping for so I think they are supposed to be shopping for their siblings but our interests really aren't that different from an eight-year-old so we will probably like whatever little toy he picks out anyway. :) For this one, I just wrapped up the flyer that talks about it.
7. Make a Pom Pom Ornament - supplies for the craft
8. Visit Santa - a note with a picture of Santa
9. Make some Snowy Playdough - all of the dry ingredients measured out into a ziploc bag.
10. Drink hot cocoa - packet of candy cane cocoa from the pantry
11. Handmade Gift - Superhero Mask (I actually haven't had time to make one yet so I just rolled up a piece of felt and wrapped it)
12. Gift - a new Christmas book - There is a note in the box telling him that he gets to unwrap the gift under the tree that has red paper. I might go back later and hide the gift then write out a set of clues for him to find it.
13. Handmade Gift - Starry Night Flashlight
14. Make a Snow Globe - a small jar & bottle of glitter
15. Make Clay Ornaments - a note in a box
16. Drive around and look at Christmas lights - a note with a fake car key
17. Make a Popsicle Stick Tree - supplies for the craft
18. Family Christmas Movie Night - admission tickets (printable above)
19. Make a Cave of Stars - a small box of Christmas lights
20. Paint the Snow - a box of food coloring
22. Sleep under the tree - a note with clipart picture of kids sleeping under the tree.
23. Gift - small book of mazes
24. Bake cookies for Santa - bottle of sprinkles
If you have more ideas, please leave them in the comments section! :)