Thursday, December 1, 2016

5 countdown ideas to help jazz up Christmas

Confession: I'm a little like Buddy the Elf. I LOVE Christmas. All of it.

I'm okay with decorations being put out in, say, August. Why not enjoy some yuletide cheer for a bit longer? (Okay, I don't actually decorate in Summer, but I do start at the beginning of November, and keep going until Christmas Eve.)

I know a lot of people do countdowns, and there are so many awesome ones out there. In our house, we are currently up to seven countdowns for Christmas. Why so many? That's a fair question, but my response is: "Why not?"

I have three kids, so it started out that I wanted each of them to have one countdown to do each day. Now they rotate, and we have two other countdowns as well.

The first that we do is a simple, cheap Advent calendar countdown with chocolates behind each door. We buy ours at Aldi, and it's a fun little treat each day.

The second is our house countdown. (See picture below.)

I put a tiny envelope inside that has a fun activity written on it. That's our fun thing for the day. It helps us to make our Christmas season more about experiences than about things. This year our first day is watching Charlie Brown Christmas on TV (which means staying up late) and drinking specialty hot chocolate. I look for a lot of free activities in our area, and switch things out every year as our kids get older.

Our third countdown is one I design differently each year. This year's will be building a fireplace with stockings, one piece put on each day. The picture below is from two years ago when the countdown was the Holy Family's journey to Bethlehem.



Our fourth countdown is unwrapping a wrapped Christmas book each day. Most of these books we picked up at Goodwill or garage sales over the years. I wrap them up the week after Christmas so they are ready for the next year's countdown. After Christmas sales are a good way to get books too.

I also want to point out that the library always has tons of great Christmas books. You could check out a bunch and wrap them to do this countdown too. And that would be completely free.

I like this tradition because it means that the kids and I are sharing great stories and spending a few slow moments together every day in the midst of the season's hectic atmosphere.

If you are looking to go super simple, we also have a Melissa and Doug magnetic countdown tree like the one below.

In addition to all these countdowns, we are using a St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) daily Advent reflection and prayer. The kids also have a daily door open type countdown that has a scripture reading in it.
Tell me, readers, do you do any countdowns? What's your favorite part of Christmas?