advent activity calendar 2011

holiday advent activity calendarIt’s that time of year again, when everyone’s scrambling to do a million trillion things in 24 days.

Christmas music’s been playing on our radio stations for weeks now, and nearly everyone I know has shared on Facebook that their house is already decorated, tree’s up, gifts are purchased. And they’re all relaxing calmly by the fire.

Okay, so most aren’t sitting by the fire. But in my head they are.

We already received a holiday card from one of my early-bird college buddies.

I’m trying hard to keep my holiday-anxiety to a minimum, remembering that everyone marches to a different drummer and reminding myself that it’s still technically November. But it’s not really helping.

So I hunkered down today and got to work on our Advent Activity Calendar 2011, a variation of our 2010 Advent Calendar and our 2009 Advent Calendar but adapted to this year’s activities and plans.

I am thankful for our Advent Activity Calendar.  It has become a simple, easy way for us to make sure that in the midst of all this holiday craziness that we don’t forget to do the small–but important–things in these very important 24 days that remind us of the meaning of this holiday.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Advent Activity Calendar 2011: This calendar is one of our favorite family traditions, and it’s seriously something that gets Maddy, Owen, and Cora movin’ and groovin’ in the mornings.

holiday advent activity calendarMy copy of the Advent Activity Calendar

And it really does allow us opportunities to celebrate our family’s favorite pieces of this holiday every single day of December, from the first through the twenty-fourth.

The Advent Activity Calendar 2011 can be downloaded here as a Word Doc so that you can adapt it to fit your family’s needs and plans. Happy December! holiday advent activity calendar

I print out two copies of the calendar.  One, I cut apart and hide each day in a pocket in the hanging tree, and the other I keep hidden to use as my own reference–so I remember to hide Hershey’s kisses, pick up funny holiday socks–on the appropriate day. And if I need to switch things last minute, my copy of the calendar is a life-saver.

Though I use this fabulous felt tree that I picked up at the store a few years ago, several of my friends have told me that they have created their own awesome ways of using the ideas on the calendar.  They’ve cut apart the squares of each calendar day and

  • put each square in a numbered envelope that their children decorate;
  • wrapped each in a tiny box that kiddos can unwrap each day;
  • hidden the square under a place mat at breakfast;
  • taped the square on the bathroom mirror;
  • used the chocolate Advent calendar and stuck the squares in each of the windows so kids get chocolate and an activity.

The possibilities are endless, really.  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.

holiday advent activity calendarOur Advent Activity Calendar 2011 is a good mix of fun and festive. . .


holiday advent activity calendar

. . . and thoughtful holiday time activities.

But what I love about this Advent Activity calendar is that some days the activities are more involved (at-home learning day of cookie baking), but others are really simple like giving a candy cane to someone you love. This month is insanely busy for us, with a birthday, with fun holiday events during the weekends and week nights, with meetings and parties, with gift-buying and gift-making.  So I want our Advent calendar to be able to fit into our life and not make it more stressful than it tends to be in December.

This year, we did some family brainstorming on our way back from our Thanksgiving in holiday advent activity calendarthe Keystone State, and we came up with some new activities:

And we repeated some of our favorites:

  • breakfast with Santa at our church;
  • wear pj’s and watch holiday movies with friends;
  • wear crazy holiday socks to school;
  • eat snowman pancakes for dinner.

We try to remember others:

  • make holiday gifts for family and friends;
  • wrap and prepare gifts for a needy family;
  • empty ‘give’ jars and take money to Salvation Army volunteers;
  • write holiday notes for family and teachers;
  • deliver holiday sweets to our neighbors.

It’s a pretty good mix of events that promote the spirit of the holiday and activities that are silly enough to still get a good laugh from my three little ones, who are getting older and wiser by the minute.

Happy, happy holidays!




  1. Jaynee says

    I just finished up a list for our advent calendar. My 5 and 7 year old LOVE doing things for others, so they helped me come up with our list which includes baking dog biscuits for the neighborhood dogs, decorating a tree outside for the birds, cut out snowflakes for our elderly neighbors (they can’t have sugary treats), fill a stocking for someone in need, treats for our friends, treats for the teachers at school, etc.

    • amy says

      Jaynee! Thank you so much for sharing these ideas with me–I love them and think I’ll add them to our calendar next year!! Many thanks for reading, thanks again for sharing, and have a super awesome holiday season!!


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