Remember those advent calendars that had the little pieces of waxy tasting chocolate? Remember how disgusting they tasted, and how as children, you would wake up with a hunger for that disgusting piece of chocolate, because even though it was gross, it was chocolate that you usually got to eat in the morning? Yeah, we don’t do those anymore.
We stopped for a couple of reasons – one being the gross taste and strange chemical ingredients, and the second being that they don’t really do anything. They don’t really reinforce any ideas about Christmas. So instead, we developped a new way of counting down to Christmas… well, two ways actually: a book advent and a kindness countdown. Both started with beautiful pieces from wicker emporium and both reinforce an important value to remember over the holidays. (A full source/shopping list for all items in this post will be shared at the end.)
We have been doing a book advent for many, many years… long before it went crazy on social media. What I love about this tradition is that it forces us to sit down and spend family time together, even in the chaos of Christmas. Sometimes we forget to do this, and reading the advent book each night reminds us that family time is one of the most important things about the holiday season. Some of the books are funny, some are traditional, and others are just heart warming stories about Christmas values. I wrap them up in cute paper that matches my beautiful basket and use scrapbooking stickers to label the days.
I love this black and natural wicker basket from wicker emporium – it would go great with any style of decor. One important thing to look for when picking out your basket is how sturdy it is. Twenty four books can be heavy, so make sure you get a basket that can really hold up to the job year after year – hence my choice. It has strong handles and the whole basket is really thick. I really wanted another style, called the Halifax Trunk, which had gorgeous leather strapping and old fashioned style text, but I was afraid my tall books wouldn’t fit inside. At 70% off though, it would have been a steal!
To make this easy and affordable, we use books that we already own, and I buy two new Christmas books each year. The girls love discovering their old favourites and finding out which new books are thrown into the mix that year.
This year, I purchased Olivia Claus (my youngest is a huge Olivia fan) and Home Alone (which is one of our favourite holiday movies, so I was super excited to see the new book edition). Some of our other favorites are Once There Was a Christmas Tree (about how sharing and paying it forward can spread holiday cheer), Baby Christmas (just an adorably cute book), Little Tree (about finding your special place in life), and A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (a holiday book that should be in every Canadian home!).
The other calendar is a Kindness countdown. To do this, I write 24 acts of kindness on slips of paper, and place them inside these adorable little envelopes and number them from 1-24. Each day the girls open one and get to complete the task inside. Some examples of acts of kindness include putting away your sisters laundry, tidying one of the rooms in the house, making a card of appreciation for your teacher, etc. It really helps us get in the spirit of giving and sharing, rather than getting, which is why we really love it.
To house our little acts of kindness, I chose this special wood carved box from wicker emporium. It isn’t listed on their website yet, but if you go to your local store, it is called “Nativity Wood Box”. The star pattern on the front reminds me of the Christmas star, but it is generic enough that you could have it in your house all winter, or even all year, long. My daughter came with me on my shopping trip and she was the one who picked it out, because she loved the little clasp that closed the box. She said it reminded her of a treasure chest! I used scrapbooking stickers to spell “be kind” on the inside of the lid, to remind us what Christmas is really all about: love.
How do you countdown the days until Christmas? Do you have any fun celebrations or traditions? I would love for you to share them below, and if you’re around, why not join us for the wicker emporium holiday twitter chat tonight? All the details are below, and I would love to see you there! Enjoy!
Source / Shopping List for DIY Advent Calendars and Other Items Shown in Post:
Baskets and boxes: wicker emporium
Books: Home Alone (Amazon / Chapters), Olivia Claus (Amazon / Chapters), A Porcupine in a Pear Tree (Amazon / Chapters). (Baby Christmas, Once There Was a Christmas Tree, and Little Tree appear to be out of print, so if you ever come across a copy, grab it! Your little ones will love them!)
Envelopes for Acts of Kindness Box: Pick Your Plum (similar ones can be found here)
Blanket Scarf in Basket: DIY (tutorial can be found here)
Wrapping Paper: Target (the shorter rolls make it easy to wrap books with just one cut.)
Number Stickers: Thickers