I can’t believe it! I’ve been so busy since December started that I completely forgot to share with all of you my favourite Advent calendar!!! Now, when my daughter was little and home for all of December I would make her an Advent calendar with pockets in it or comprised of matchboxes or something like that and each day she’d get to open a little gift leading up to Christmas. Some of them would be candies or gingerbread cookies and others would be little gifts like lip balm (you know, the Lip Smackers ones that come in all those cool flavours) or tiny little toys like the type you get in a Kinder Surprise. We also would buy one of those German style Advent calendars with the chocolates behind every door. When I went to see her last weekend for her concert, I even took her one of the chocolate ones as I have done every year – almost since she was born!
Another Advent tradition we had, similar to the Advent calendar idea, was the Advent books. My daughter and I are both avid readers and we have loved sharing books together since, well, since before she was born. We still read to each other sometimes! Being a teacher as well meant that we always had a huge collection of books, including holiday ones. I knew that we would read a holiday story or two every night before bed anyway so I decided to make it even more fun and special. Before the first Sunday of Advent, I would take out our big box of holiday books and I would wrap them up – depending on how long the book was, I would wrap 1, 2, or 3 of them in each package. For Christmas gifts, we mostly use reusable fabric gift bags but I know that especially as a child, my daughter loved that feeling of tearing into that wrapping paper, so for the Advent books, I would wrap them in paper. To keep this low-cost and environmentally friendly though, I would use things like newspaper or old scraps of wrapping paper that I had saved from gifts she received in the past from other people. Add some pretty red ribbon to a package wrapped in newspaper and you’d be surprised how cheery and festive it looks!
Now, at first, I would wrap the books up randomly and she would just choose whatever one she wanted from the basket but as we got more and more books, I began to wrap them and then number each package according to what day they were to be opened. The reason for this was that, for example, we have this incredible Night Before Christmas book that we had a tradition of reading on Christmas Eve and I always wanted to be sure there was a book about Jesus’ birth to read on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well. I had a couple of great books about Epiphany so I wanted to be sure they were read in January when Epiphany rolled around, that our book about St. Nicholas was read on St. Nick’s Day, and so on. Once I had those special dates and books covered, then the rest I just randomly numbered. The packages of wrapped books all got piled into a large basket that we put next to the Christmas tree. Every night Samantha would pick her package out of the basket and we’d settle in for some lovely holiday stories. Each year, among our favourites, there were always at least one or two new books there as well for her to look forward to. I think this was one of the favourite family traditions for both of us!
Now, I’m not much into the Advent calendars filled with chocolate. And it’s been a very long time since anyone made me an Advent calendar filled with little gifts. BUT each year for the past 5, Lisa Vollrath has presented an Advent calendar that is right up my alley. Every day from December 1 to the 25, she makes available a download on her website. The downloads are often vintage style holiday images but in years past have also included decorated templates for little gift boxes and bags and things of that nature. These downloads are linkware so all she asks is that before you begin downloading anything, you share this free giveaway with others via Facebook, Twitter, on your blog, or other such social media sites. I already have 4 years worth of these incredible downloads and I just love to use them in my creations! Go NOW and get yours!!! http://countdown.tentwostudios.com/