THE COUNTDOWN HAS STARTED!!
The great big enormous beast of a month (even if it’s a sparkly unicorn sugar pony jingly reindeer type of beast) is here!
As I blinked in the morning light trying to recall the date, this awful truth dawned upon me and the behemoth rose up – we are less than 25 days away from Christmas and I AM NOT READY.
Why is it always the last day of November when I finally face up to Christmas? Why don’t I think to have an advent calendar – a Mummy Scale Advent Calendar – that starts in, oh, I don’t know… July?? I really need one of those pop-out door, chocolate-filled things to warn me December is coming, at least two months before it arrives. But despite every effort made by shopping malls and supermarkets everywhere, jangling their alarm jingle bells and waving their warning fairy lights since October, I do not even have an Advent calendar ready for the first day of December.
Now, we don’t always have an Advent calendar – kid or parent size – in our house for the countdown to Christmas. More often as we get closer to the BIG DAY we just cross the days off our enormous wall calendar and add to, rather than cross-off, the to-do-before-Christmas list.
We’ve had advent calendars for events other than Christmas at times.
The year before my son started school, one of our neighbours decided to sell up and move away. This was a bit unsettling for us until we found out that our new neighbours would be a family with three boys – and one was my son’s age. This was just tooooo exciting as we are a small family of two parents and one child. The only problem was waiting until they moved in. The house had to be reconfigured to accommodate them all, so there was going to be a lot of
W A I T I N G . . .
We decided to make an advent calendar leading up to their move-in date. With a bit of help from me wielding the craft knife, my son created an advent calendar made of train cars and carriages (he was and still is a BIG train fan). It was a great success – fun to make, and even more fun to wake up to each morning, opening up the next little door or window on the train – it really helped us manage the wait. I don’t think any of our Christmas creations have really lived up to the glory of that little train slowly rolling new friends and neighbours into the house next door.
When we’ve made a Christmas Advent calendar at home it’s usually been of the straight count down variety – no chocs, no activities, no little gifties. The lifting of each numbered flap was like crossing off a day on a calendar – the treat was watching the days go by. So last crafting day, I thought I’d ask some of my crafty mum friends whether they had Christmas Advent calendars.
Amid the various sighs, chuckles, groans and laughs the upshot was – beware the Adventosaurus!
Like most critters it starts off little and cute. What fun! An advent calendar for my little Chrissie! The making is wonderful – beautiful sweet fabrics, clever funny patterns, the joy of creating for your brand new child, the delight and awe in Chrissie’s cherubic face. Then you have another cherub. And then another. Sometimes there are more. And the Adventosaurus starts to grow. One advent calendar to share? One each? How many gifts? How much chocolate? What time of day? Before school? How to deal with all that emotion, suspense, chocolate?
One mum put all the advent calendars away for good after serious behaviour management stress – even the kids were driving her nuts. Another mum solved the sibling sharing issue by alternating Advent treat days – two kids, two choices – one has the odd days, the other the even days. But despite the cautionary tales recited through gritted teeth (OK, this was a craft group so there were probably pins between those pearly whites…) my informants had some tips for new players:
- One Advent Calendar to share – if for whatever reason more Advent calendars make it into the house let them time-share from year to year
- Activities you can do together rather than individual treats/gifts etc – unless you are super rich and/or super-disciplined
- If you have treats make them work for you rather than against you – one mum says she never has to nag at the kids to get ready for school during December – NO ONE gets ANYTHING until they are dressed, breakfasted, brushed, cleaned, packed and ready to go
- Alternatively the Advent calendar only comes out AFTER DINNER – especially if there is chocolate involved
- Do something else – a different pre-Christmas tradition inherited, borrowed or made-up
- Think carefully before you decide to have an Adventosaurus in the family.
I carefully considered these stories and all the sage advice as it might relate to my situation. In the end I thought we’d stick to our usual plan, Christmas man. Make a simple Advent calendar together, after school on the first day of December and then just open/tear/pull/cross/push/ whatever as each day rolls around or rolls away – whenever we fancy.
What I think I’ll take home from all this Adventurous musing is:
- Calendars can be Adventageous for adults as well as children
- Like puppies, Advent calendars are not just for Christmas
- Advent calendars are better if you diy
- Advent calendars work best for us when we make them together.
If you are keen to join in the Adventure here’s a Whipup Roundup from the archives to help you on your way!
Oh and this Advent calendar tutorial and what about one of these?
So this Christmas, if you celebrate it at your place, what will be your approach?