A Simple Advent Calendar that Celebrates the Season

Where I’ve been since my last post: Thinking about this blog, raising kids, helping family, working, getting the outside ready for winter, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, working out at the gym, thinking about projects I want to make, but not actually making them. Where I am now: Writing on my blog rather than just thinking about it, making the projects I have been contemplating, cleaning out the studio, and all of the aforementioned activities. Sometimes, you just have to move the stuff you love to the top of the list 🙂

Now to share my Advent calendar idea:

For the past several years, I have wanted to make an Advent calendar, specifically a wall hanging with lots of embroidery, applique and other embellishments. I have every intention of starting it in July or August, but something else always takes priority. So on Sunday night with December 1st three days away, I came up with another idea. A simple idea that involves the whole family and celebrates the season without the commercial hoopla that surrounds this time of year.

Each member of the family (four people in our case) received six pieces of paper on which they had to write an inspirational quote, a family goal for the coming year, or something for which they are grateful. After everyone went to bed, I got busy and wrapped each slip of paper with a “treat”. For the most part, the treats are really activities that we will do the day the package is opened. So often during the holiday season, I find myself saying stuff like, “We don’t have time to play that game right now because we have to get ready for Christmas.” The treats are an invitation to slow down and spend time together. Last night, on December 1st, the treat was to make M&M cookies together after school – before homework! The house smelled great and there was lots of talking and laughing; my teenage son participated but since he shuns anything sweet, he will get soda bread, one of his favorites, tonight. We finished up by taking a plate of warm cookies over to our neighbors. It was a nice change of pace before we moved on to homework and an evening of work and volunteer activities.

Other treats packaged up include drawing a winter wonderland picture together on a really long piece of paper, inviting neighbors over for dessert (something we have been meaning to do for months), making fudge, and going to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Tivoli theatre here in Downers Grove to raise money for Sharing Connections, an organization that provides household items to families in need. There was a bit of orchestrating required when it came to deciding what activities to do on what days – I did take a look at the calendar and planned the treat accordingly so that the activities will hopefully not seem like work. At first glance it looks like a jumble of flat brown packages, but each of the 24 packages is numbered 1 through 24.

Abiding by my mantra of “reuse, repurpose, recycle,” I used brown paper grocery bags (I knew there was a reason I forgot to take my own bags into Trader Joe’s last week). What I also love about this idea is that there is not another decorative item to box up so that it can be stored for 11 months out of every year.

Happy making!

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