We are a family that counts down. We start young with “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re Going To The Moon,” and it never stops. Ask my husband, at any given moment, how many days until a long weekend, our next family holiday or the massage his doting wife promised him, and he can tell you accurately without a moment’s hesitation. One wonders what he might be capable of if so much valuable brain power wasn’t constantly engaged in keeping track of the minutes and hours… but I digress.
So, advent calanders, ya – we’re all over that. We hang a tiny little ornament on the quilted tree Oma made each night. The girls faithfully cross the days off their calanders. And we fight about which daily christmas devotionals we are going to use for the month. Right now it’s a throwdown between the cheesy, but beloved “Adornaments” and “What God Wants for Christmas”.
But the MOST crucial countdown of all is the cheap cardboard chocolate calander we get each year. I’ve been informed by experts in the field (a 9-year-old girl and her Dad) that it is not really Christmas without it.
One of the very first wails of protest when Mom’s fair trade crusade began was about this very important issue.
I was tickled to learn that there are, in fact, fair trade chocolate advent calanders to be had (Divine). Not only that, but these contain ACTUAL chocolate to pop out each day. As opposed to the brown coloured, chocolate scented ear wax we are used to. Not a bad option.
But as committed as I am to my family’s happiness and the end of child slavery, there is another virtue very near and dear to my heart.
I am cheap.
At $8-12 each, these are not unreasonably priced. BUT when each member of the family (including the one with facial hair) must have their own, that’s 8…16…24… way-too-expensive-for-mom-to-swallow Dollars.
This is not a blog where you will learn how to turn a shoebox and 4 pennies into a fully functioning shoe rack. I cannot tell you how to create the perfect turkey dinner for under $10 – I have never even roasted a turkey at all. But this is one crafty/home project that fits my profile: simple, fast and foolproof. So here it goes:
I bought this advent cupboard on impulse (it was on sale and I’m a sucker for deals I don’t really need). But a stack of envelopes would work just as well. There are SO many amazing advent projects that it is overwhelming. I say, keep it simple. Who need another reason to Grinch out this Christmas.
In each “day” I put:
a mini muffin cup
filled with 5 Cadbury’s FAIR TRADE chocolate buttons (1 per person)
a fun family activity, outing or service project for that day (written on a strip of leftover wrapping paper)
Glen and I had fun brainstorming simple things to do as a family to honour Jesus and teach generosity, without driving us to drink (well, anymore than usual).
- Call GiGi (great grandma) and sing her a Christmas song.
- Christmas party tonight – have fun!
- Decorate the Christmas tree.
- Bake Gingerbread Men with Mom.
- Collect as much change as you can find around the house to give to the Salvation Army Santa at the store (winner gets hot chocolate to share with everyone).
- Drive to Candy Cane Lane to look at the Christmas lights.
- Go to the store and buy food for the Food Bank.
- There are 12 cherry Candy Canes hidden throughout the house. Ready, set, go!
- Draw a picture/write a letter to our sponsored children (World Vision and Compassion).
- Create an e-vite and invite friends to our New Year’s Eve party.
- Make Christmas crafts with Aunt Judy!
- Everyone give a foot rub to someone else tonight.
- Christmas Shopping date with Dad.
- Paint your own pottery at the ceramics store – make a special gift for someone you don’t normally exchange gifts with.
- Celebrate Grinch Night – everyone wear green, eat all green food and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Invite the neighbours to join us!
- Pick a project from the World Vision Catalogue to donate your charity money to (our kids save some of their allowance each week to give).
- Plan games and food for our New Year’s Eve party.
- Create a “Welcome” banner for all the family that are coming to stay with us – especially your brand new cousin.
- Pack for our trip – we are driving to the timeshare today. Pick your favourite carol to sing in the car (even Dad will join in) (Dad’s Note: he will??? Doesn’t sound like something he’d do.).
- Movie night with the Aunties – wear pajamas, eat cararmel corn and watch Sound of Music.
- Choose Christmas e-cards to send to Grandma Lindsay every day until Christmas.
- Play Christmas song charades.
- Chowder Party at Oma and Opas.
- Build a Gingerbread house with Uncle Miguel
Advent Box – $20.00
Muffin Cups – $1.00
Cadbury’s Buttons (2 packages) – $8
This is the part where I should say “Advent family fun….ah…priceless!”
But it was actually $29.00 plus tax, which is a pretty good deal in my book and can be used for years to come.
So here’s me, 18 days until I get to snuggle my brand new nephew for the first time, 32 days until I pack it all back in rubbermaid containers and 366 days until we start it all over again.