I just finished prepping our 2020 Advent Calendar. The way we approach it is assigning a holiday-season activity to each day. We start by making a list of all the things that feel like Christmas-time to our family. We try to imagine school starting in January and we’re looking back — what would we regret not doing before the tree comes down? (Like: Christmas is over and we didn’t watch that film? Or read this book? Oh dear!)
The Advent Calendar becomes a good way to pace ourselves over the holiday, and gives the kids a small surprise to look forward to each day.
The activities are mostly simple — like reading a particular book, or making toffee. In a non-pandemic year, our activities would also include visiting local shops, going to holiday concerts, checking out the Christmas markets (that are so popular in France and throughout Europe), and other community-minded events. This year, we are focused on staying home, so we adjusted the list a bit.
Here’s a list of stay-at-home Advent Calendar ideas in case you want to try something similar with your family. There are more than 24 items on this list, and of course, all the books and movies can be switched out for your family’s personal favorites. Sometimes we’ll double up and assign a movie AND baking on one calendar day, or listen to a certain Christmas album WHILE decorating the tree. You can adapt this as to your own situation as needed:
Advent Calendar 2020 Ideas
-Get out Christmas Storage boxes and put out the Nativity set
-Make a 2020 Holiday Season Playlist
-Start the seasonal Manger Service activity — a strip of paper with a kindness written on (my sister helped me fold my laundry) goes in the manger as if it’s a piece of straw; the more “straw” the softer the manger
-Hallmark Holiday movie marathon
-Choose and send gifts (online) for grandparents
-Watch While You Were Sleeping
-Make Cinnamon Rolls
-Read Dream Snow and Olive the Other Reindeer
-Send Money to your local Food Bank
-Get the Christmas Tree and set it up in a stand
-Decorate the Christmas Tree
-Croissant Taste Test (this could be any type of food your town has a lot of — maybe glazed donuts or chocolate cupcakes)
-Watch The Santa Clause
-Watch Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas
-Read the Christmas Carol (we’ll usually split longer books up over 2 or 3 days — so the activity might be: Read Half of the Christmas Carol)
-Open and share a box of Christmas Chocolates
-Read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
-Family Hot Cocoa Bar Night
-Watch Home Alone
-Order Supplies for 12 Days of Christmas — If we know of someone who could use some holiday cheer, we anonymously leave a small gift for them on their porch or in their mailbox for 11 days leading up to Christmas. On the 12th day, Christmas Day, we’ll bring them a final gift in person and visit for awhile. But this year, we’ll probably just carol from the sidewalk. : ) Sometimes the little gifts relate to the song (like a small basket of pears on the first day), but other times it’s more random and we just label the gift: The X day of Christmas.
-Watch Scrooge the Musical
-Listen to A Child’s Christmas in Wales
-Family Wassail Night
-Read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (you can do this a few chapters at a time if you like)
-Read a news story about a family or community in need and make a donation
-Watch Last Holiday
-Watch The Christmas Story
-Sing Christmas Carols (you can do this one several times if your family likes a good jam session)
-Watch It’s A Wonderful Life
-Christmas Recital — if your kids take music lessons, have a little family recital; warm them ahead of time so they can work on a piece especially for this
-Make Snoball Cookies
-Christmas Eve Feast
-Read (or even act out!) the Nativity Story
As for the Advent Calendar packaging, we don’t have anything fancy like the cute one pictured at top (it’s from Target). we try different things on different years. Last year we used little envelopes. This year we found numbered boxes at a local candy shop (the day before the shut down was instituted!). There are tons of cute options and ideas out there if you’re looking to buy or make, but it doesn’t need to be fancy at all .
Your turn. Has your family tried something like this? If yes, did you enjoy it? Do you have a reusable Advent Calendar, or do you like to DIY something each year? What ideas would you add to the list above?