Consider if you want to do some kind of Advent calendar or countdown calendar in December. If it requires making something, you may want to start now, or plan it and order supplies if needed.

A simple but effective countdown marker is the traditional construction paper garland, which is simply a paper chain in which you tear off a ring each day. Another idea is a button or bead string where the child pushes the button or bead from one side to another in order to count down the days.

If you’d rather purchase an Advent calendar, there are lovely old-fashioned paper Advent calendars made by the Vermont Christmas Company (I’m not an affiliate). They are just a few dollars and can be reused year after year. Or you can search Etsy for Advent calendars for more ideas. A word of caution though, I discourage those Advent calendars that are little bags or boxes or drawers for a tiny gift each day. For me, (1) my kids already have too much stuff, (2) I would be overwhelmed to try to find 24 cute tiny things that aren’t garbage, and (3) I fear it is unreasonable to put gifts in these thinly veiled unlocked containers, and expect kids not to peek.

Another way to count down to Christmas is by performing acts of kindness. Search Pinterest for “acts of kindness” advent calendars for ideas. A popular version for the last few years has been one known as The Giving Manger (I’m not an affiliate). It is $39.99, but there is no reason that you couldn’t mimic the idea at no cost.

One final idea I give you to celebrate the Advent season is by asking every member of the family to let go of a toy, book, or article of clothing every single day. You might do this in conjunction with a traditional Advent calendar so it doesn’t seem like drudgery.

I saw a press release yesterday that proclaimed that of late, Advent calendars “have become another way of encouraging consumerism”. Of course, that was referring to the new Tiffany Advent calendar that is filled with diamonds. As I mentioned, I do avoid doing a countdown of 24 little things that will end up underfoot or in the garbage. But last year my kids did the Crayola Christmas Countdown box (affiliate link) and we loved it so much I am seriously considering doing it again this year. Each day has a crayon or marker as well as a paper project where the child can put the crayon or marker to use right away. They color decorations, make a list for Santa, that kind of thing. It was really fun and I didn’t worry about encouraging consumerism!

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