Thursday, December 20, 2012

Four Christmas Countdown Ideas

I love the idea of a Christmas countdown or Advent calendar, but the crafter in me just can't be happy with store bought options. So, here's what I've come up for over the last few years.

2009 was the first year I though to do a countdown calendar. I know I was late in the game on this one. My oldest child had 12 Christmases before I caught on. Poor kid. Anyway, I went simple that year (it was a kind of last minute thing) and used my digi scrapping skills to make an 8x8 inch December calendar. The kids put a gold star on each date each morning.

As simple as it was, it was a hit. The kids had a visual of "how many more days 'til Christmas" and the simple act of putting on a star seemed special. I knew Christmas countdowns had become a family tradition.

In 2010 we bought a home with vaulted ceilings, and suddenly I was dealing with more wall space than I knew what to do with. There was no way an 8x8 inch calendar was going to cut it. So instead I put my software and DSP digital scrapbooking kits to use again, and made a large wall calendar. Each date is a little 4x4 square individually hung on the way. As each day passed a kid would hang a little hand made ornament over the date. That was especially fun as they got to do lots of Christmas crafting to make all the little ornaments. Sadly, I never did get a photo of the calendar on the wall hung over with cutely pathetic little ornaments made by 8, 6, and 4 year olds.

Last year I got the idea to give the kids a little present each day. I went searching online and came up with a number of different patterns or instructions for paper gift boxes. I found a few, bought a pad of Christmas scrapbooking paper, and got busy. Then I filled each box with candy and stacked them prettily on a cake pedestal.

Each day of December one child picked one box and shared it's contents with their siblings. It was a great success, and most of the boxes held up so well we'll be using them for a while to come. Here are the links to the box instructions and templates that I found worked best.
Origami box (vary the sizes by starting with different sized squares)
Cube box (I made both the small and larger size)
Pyramid box (these are especially cute)
Mini Gift bag (these make super cute gift bags for American Girl dolls too)
Mini Take-Out boxes (these are my favorites)

When we pulled out the Christmas decorations the last week of November, I still didn't know what I wanted to do for this year. But as we rummaged through all of the stuff, and thought of some of the ideas I had seen on Pinterest (specifically this one that no one seems able to find the original source for), I got an idea. I combined the gift boxes from last year with the large calendar squares from 2010. This was the result:

I filled the boxes candy as before, but this year I tied them with colored raffia and hung one over each date. Each day a kid gets to take one day, open it, and share the candy with their siblings. And up there, on day 25, is a special gift bag. No candy in that one. Shhh, don't tell the kids. There is gift cards in that one.