2019 Advent Calendar

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I started doing advent calendars in 2015 when I adopted my oldest son Gabriel and became a new mom. He was 4 years old and I couldn’t wait to overflow our calendar with fun activities to countdown to Christmas!

Now he is 8 years old and we also have an almost 3 year old. I still love doing an advent calendar but I can tell you that over the years I have dropped my enthusiasm for an overwhelming calendar filled with activities and have instead pursued a simple, more thoughtful approach.

Last year I shared more details on this and I am entering this Christmas season with the same mindset. Many of you have asked to see our advent calendar again so I am happy to share our countdown to Christmas with you again! You can download my 2019 Christmas Countdown and I detailed all of our activities below!

2019 Advent Calendar

December 1 Volunteer at Love Pacs + Donate Food 

One of my best friends runs an incredible organization called Love Pacs. On Sunday they are having ‘Selfies with Santa’ and I am going to bring the boys to help color boxes and donate food.  If you are local to the Dallas / Fort Worth area come join us! Details here.

December 2 Light of the World Dinner + Family Home Evening Lesson 

Every Christmas I love to have a candlelight dinner. It’s not fancy or romantic but it’s a great way to share how Christ is the light of the world. My boys love it and still think it’s special even if we eat off paper plates.

December 3 Christmas Tree in Boys Room 

I purchased Connor one of these felt Christmas Trees last year. It was hit and I think he will enjoy it again. Gabriel has a small artificial tree in his room I purchased a target. I put mini ornaments in his stocking so he can decorate his tiny tree. He loves having his own decorations in his room!

December 4 North Pole Express Tickets + National Cookie Day

This is the first year I am taking Connor to the North Pole Express. We took Gabriel a few years ago and really enjoyed it. We are going with one of our homeschool groups this year so I am excited to go in the middle of the day and not a super busy evening or weekend. Probably one of my favorite perks of homeschooling is skipping the crowds! It is also national cookie day (you KNOW I am going to celebrate cookie day!!) so I will put a special cookie in their stocking. I love the decorated holiday cookies at Panera Bread and Starbucks has some too!

December 5 National Volunteer Day + Donate Toys

To celebrate National Volunteer Day, I emailed a few local charities to see if any of them could accommodate me and the boys. I am hoping to hear back and be able to spend a few hours celebrating by helping in some way.

This year in my Elf on the Shelf Box (sold out!), I included a large gift bag that you can fill and use to donate gently used toys and clothes. If you didn’t get one my boxes this year, check out your local store for extra large gift bags. They are cuter than trash bags and make filling them a little more fun and festive!

Whether we get to volunteer or not, we will be filling our bags and taking them to one of our local donation centers! This is a great way to teach your children about others in need and it’s something my oldest really looks forward to.

December 6 Christmas Movie + Popcorn

Is it really even Christmas without a Christmas movie? I like to put M&M boxes in the boys stockings so they can dump the red and green M&M’s in their popcorn! So easy and something we all enjoy!

December 7 Write a Letter to Santa

I created a letter to Santa template (you can download them here if you need a cute letter to and from Santa!) and have the boys fill them out each year. I love looking at their handwriting year after year and seeing what they ask santa for!

If you want a personalized letter from Santa and a cute template to write a letter to Santa, make sure to take a peek at my Letter to Santa Kit in the shop! The envelopes are my favorite with a custom stamp with Santa’s address and I include a Christmas pencil too!

December 8 National Chocolate Brownie Day + Share a Treat 

Brownies are probably my favorite dessert so I am 100% indulging in a brownie today! I include a small wooden spoon in the boys stocking that they can use to help me make brownies and then we share with a neighbor. The boys love to lick their spoons and I always sneak an extra brownie!

December 9 National Christmas Card Day + Family Home Evening Lesson

This year for National Christmas Card Day we are going to get crafty and make our own Christmas Cards! Not like the fancy ones with those adorable family photos but just simple Christmas Cards with hand drawn Christmas trees and Santa’s made with cotton balls!   

December 10 Candy Cane Lane 

“Candy Cane Lane” is where you take candy canes and put them all over your neighborhood. We place them in mailboxes, hand them to people as we walk by, or leave by the doorstep. We do something similar over the summer with Sunshine Notes and it’s fun to spend the afternoon walking the neighborhood.

I have a friend who does something similar with her boys except she does it at the kids school. They race to put candy canes on all of the teachers cars! This would be a fun activity too! You can download the postcard for free HERE, attach a candy cane and be on your merry way!

December 11 Write Letters to Missionaries and Military 

My husband was in the Navy and he often mentions how lonely the holidays were away from family and friends. We also have a lot of friends that have kids that are on church missions and will be away for the holiday. Both missionaries and members of the military hold special places in my heart so each year I try to send a small package and a letter to as many as we can. I get the boys to help and we make it a fun activity!

December 12 National Gingerbread Day  

For National Gingerbread Day we are going to decorate Gingerbread Houses! I ordered this Wilton Mini Village so I didn’t have to buy two gingerbread houses for my two boys. I like that these are small and both boys can make two of them! Plus it saves me some holiday cash!

December 13 National Cocoa Day

I have had a love affair with hot chocolate for as long as I can remember. I celebrate National Cocoa Day on the regular! I recently have been trying to eat more plant based so I ordered this vegan hot chocolate. I haven’t tried it yet but I will let you know what I think! I will probably just give the boys a regular hot chocolate packet in their stocking!

December 14 Christmas Craft

I haven’t actually planned a Christmas Craft yet but my kids love to paint and draw and do any kind of craft so I always try to include a craft day (or more like a craft hour for my sanity) and we make something cute for Christmas! I did print these out a few of these coloring pages so if you want something easy just print one of these and get out the crayons!

December 15 Happy Birthday Jesus + National Cupcake Day

I decided to celebrate National Cupcake Day and Jesus’s birthday so I just had to buy cupcakes once! Celebrating Jesus’s birthday is my personal favorite holiday tradition. I include a birthday celebration kit in my Thoughtful Tradition Christmas Boxes and Elf on the Shelf Kits because I just love this tradition so much.

December 16 Family Home Evening Lesson + Watch “The Christ Child” 

In keeping with my desire to have a more thoughtful Christmas, we don’t have an activity everyday. Every Monday, all year long, we spend some time as a family. Our church calls it Family Home Evening. Most of the time, it’s reading a scripture and maybe a special snack. Sometimes we play games, sometimes we have movie night but mostly we just set aside an hour or so and enjoy being together.

During the month of December I try to plan each FHE with a lesson about Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’s birth. Tonight we for FHE we are going to watch “The Christ Child”, a short 20 minute video about the Savior’s birth.

December 17 Buy Starbucks for a Stranger

I always enjoy this activity because it’s a simple way to love on someone and a great way to show my kids how they can bring joy by serving others. I like to make this a ‘date’ with the boys so we go get a hot chocolate or an apple cider and then purchase a gift card. Before we leave, we pick someone to surprise!

December 18 Grinch Day

Last year was our very first Grinch Day! The boys had so much fun and requested to do it again. I saw these adorable Grinch Who-Ville Gingerbread Houses and had to get them! We will be making these along with other festive green treats!   

December 19 Christmas Tea Party 

Almost every Thursday I have ‘afternoon tea’ with the boys. Its a fun tradition that we started last year and I look forward to it every week. We almost always drink hot chocolate instead of tea but I still like to call it afternoon tea. Maybe it feels fancy or reminds me of being abroad?

We enjoy our drinks, a few cookies and talk about the day. I bought Connor a play tea set and he loves to pretend with us. This year I am thinking of using my Christmas china to make our Christmas tea feel even more special. Last year I asked Gabriel to share his favorite Christmas memories and wrote them down. I want to add to that again this year!

December 20 Bake Christmas Cookies

I don’t really love to cook or bake but being in the kitchen at Christmas time with my boys is one of my favorite things! I always get them Christmas pajamas and we spend the day eating cookie dough and attempting to actually bake a few cookies too! I bought these adorable pajamas and can’t wait to bake cookies this year!

December 21 Family Snow Day + Indoor Snowball Fight

For “snow day” we have an indoor snow ball fight, make a snowman craft and eat snowman pancakes! Even though we live in Texas and don’t get much snow we like to pretend. I have a set of these and bring them out each Christmas! They are so fun!

December 22 Read the Christmas Story

I love to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 every year. It’s a simple activity that really brings us back to the true reason for this season.

December 23 Family Home Evening Lesson

In keeping with my desire to have a more thoughtful Christmas, we don’t have an activity everyday. Every Monday, all year long, we spend some time as a family. Our church calls it Family Home Evening. Most of the time, it’s reading a scripture and maybe a special snack. Sometimes we play games, sometimes we have movie night but mostly we just set aside an hour or so and enjoy being together. During the month of December I try to plan each FHE with a lesson about Christmas and the celebration of Jesus’s birth.

December 24 Christmas Eve

I give my boys a Christmas Eve box every year that includes matching Christmas Pajamas, ingredients to make Reindeer Food, and a letter from Santa. We typically spend the day at my family’s house and then come home and get ready for Santa by putting out the reindeer food and going to bed early in our new Christmas pajamas!

December 25 Christmas Day + Our Gift to Jesus 

Christmas morning is my absolute favorite! My mom used to make a big Christmas breakfast and I have carried this tradition to my family too. Clayton’s grandmother gave me her Christmas china years ago and every year we eat Christmas breakfast on these special plates and drink hot chocolate out of the dainty tea cups with tiny saucer plates! On Christmas Day I leave a blank piece of paper in the boys stocking. We use this sheet of paper to write down our gift(s) to the Savior.

It can be something that you will do in the coming year that Jesus would do, maybe something you want to give up to better serve Him or ways to use your talents as a gift. We put our “gifts” in an envelope, write the year on the envelope and then put them in a box to open and read year after year. Reading these together is a wonderful way to reflect, bond as a family and draw closer to the Savior together. It is a simple thing to pause and remember Christ first but it can make a lasting impression on our children as we teach them the true meaning of Christmas.

Whew! That felt like a long list!!

But truly, its pretty simple.  Each day has a simple activity that cultivates our family traditions or inspires thoughtfulness.

So whether you boycott the 25 days of Christmas or soak in all the magic that can be made, I am wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Thoughtfully, Chelsey

Ps. You can download a free print to jot down your own ideas HERE. I am a paper and pen type of girl and like to write it all down. You will see I have two lines, one for the activity and one for a gift. I use the term  “gift” lightly as its not always a treat or a gift. It is sometimes a scripture on a piece of paper or something we are doing that day. I use it to write down whatever I am putting in the stocking that day. In the bottom right hand corner of the print, you will notice a CHRISTMAS ___. Put the year at the bottom. Then next year you can look back and replicate some of the items or make changes and additions where you want. This makes putting your advent calendar or elf on the shelf easy peasy the next year!