Advent Calendar :: the details, the activities and a new twist

Advent Calendar Ideas |
advent calendar found online at years ago
here is a similar version, even though it is out of stock
Growing up with a German Catholic Mom, the advent calendar was a yearly fixture in our holiday home. And it still is. For me, it's a tradition that comforts me and makes me look back on my childhood with fond memories. Memories of whether or not we would have the calendars with the sparkly glitter {and no chocolate} or the calendars with no glitter but that wonderful sweet chocolate treat hiding behind each door. In the Ackerman house, our calendars were hung above our beds and each evening before bedtime, we would jump onto our beds and stand to reach the calendars, searching for the right date to open.

Advent Calendar Ideas |
December 2009 {ages 18, 4 and 6}
These days, we have just one calendar and our opening routine falls after dinnertime.  There's a rotation, each kiddo getting a turn every three nights. And trust me, the tall, young man on the left does not want to be left out. In years past, I would have the same small treats for each child. Since the treats would not fit behind the calendar doors, I made up hints at what the treat might be and then tell them where they could find their treats.

Advent Calendar Ideas |

Since 2 of the 3 can read and 3 out of the 3 are as nosy as their Mommy, I learned to only put that night's clue in the calendar so that they couldn't sneak an early peek! I kept a master calendar so I would know when the treats would be appearing {and I could check to see when I was supposed to have the fixings for hot chocolate and not be caught with bare cupboards!}.

Advent Calendar Ideas |
Partially through the Advent Calendar

Here is a list of all the activities/events/clues that have made an appearance in our advent calendar to date:
  • Scooby Dooby Doo | our kids love to watch Scooby, so they received a new DVD to watch
  • it's time to make some Christmas cookies | weekend and/or school break activity
  • Santa says...don't forget to brush your teeth | new toothbrushes {my kids loved this}
  • everyone gets a chocolate snowman | and Mommy gets the rest!
  • what color is your glowstick? | glowsticks from the Dollar Spot
  • make Christmas ornaments together | annual Wright art project
  • we'll all watch Frosty the Snowman | family movie night
  • family game night | kids pick which board or card game to play
  • want to play hearts? | kids received new hearts card game
  • we all decorate the tree outside | new activity last year, which we'll do again this year
  • pop, pop, pop | Pop Rocks peppermint flavored candy
  • Woof, Woof, Woof | our dog got a new chew toy
  • let's make some hot chocolate | this year, we'll be making homemade marshmallows, too!
  • is it snowing yet? | snow globes from the Dollar Spot
  • let's read your new book | we love to read and always look forward to a new book
  • read our new book together | another new book
  • do not pass go, go not collect $200 | play monopoly
  • what are your family favorites? | included the answers in my December Daily                           {this page was featured on Ali's blog}
  • play with the princess magnets | another Dollar Spot treat
  • did anyone see Santa's reindeer? | town Christmas tree lighting
  • you just made an easy $5 | obviously for Zach
  • let's have a cookie party | invited both families over for a holiday treat taste test
  • see Isabella perform in her school Christmas program
  • start reading your new book | did I say we like to read?
  • it's time for an art project | school break activity to keep them busy
  • could anyone use a princess tiara? | Dollar Spot treat
  • fun time with Oma and your glow necklaces | Date Night and my Mom babysits
  • work on putting your puzzle together

And here is the collection of handmade tags made from scraps.

Advent Calendar Ideas |
here are mini manila shipping tags to make your own

Last year, I saw that the little ones were disappointed when there was an activity or project rather than a treat and I didn't really like that at all. I can't recall where I read this idea, but many people could probably claim it as their own: this year, I am wrapping each of our Christmas storybooks, attaching a number and they will be our daily advent calendar treat. A nice bed time story to look forward to and try to guess at which one it might be by the shape of the book.

Edited to Add: I just read this post on Rebecca Cooper's blog, Simple as That by Melissa Deakin and since I read her blog, it is very likely that's where I came upon this book-a-night concept. You really should read what she has to say.

Of course, we'll still have the cookie party and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and probably a few of Isabella's basketball games to attend. And some art projects, and we'll have to try out those homemade marshmallows, but the focus is really going to be on the stories, the reasons for our celebration and the meanings behind the traditions.

It's all in an effort to scale back and appreciate and remember what presents we have in our life each and every day. 

Christmas Print Download |

Here's a free download, my gift to you. For this and other free downloads visit the Features section in the sidebar.

Christmas Print Download |


  1. Your advent calendar is darling! I just put mine up yesterday and the girls can't wait till day one! We do the unwrap a book thing each night too--I got the idea last year off of someone's blog. My kids love it! Have a merry week!

  2. I loved reading your advent traditions...enjoy the new tradition you are beginning this year :)

    And thanks for the download, I love the saying and will be printing it out for sure!

  3. OKAY where did you get your Advent calender? Did you make it? I LOOOOVe it.

    and thank you for the download.. you're so talented!

  4. Your calendar is beautiful, and the treats are nice too!
    Here in Norway most kids get to open their calendars in the morning, so most of them get up early every day in december.

  5. Love the traditions - I too have switched to a more mindful activity based "advent" time - I'm even changing our advent to the 12 days of Christmas (half the time - thank goodness!) LOVE your calendar, Monika. Great ideas throughout this post!

  6. Last year was my first year with Advent calendars for my kids and I did treats. I quickly realized it had become about what they were "getting" rather than the spirit of the season! I was not a happy mamma! I am definitely adding activities and I LOOOVE your book idea! Perfect timing! Thanks so much!

  7. This is just wonderful! Such a great activity for the kids and SUPER cute too!

  8. Love that advent calendar, Monika! Love that quote, too! It's one of my favorites! BIG hugs to you today! :-D

  9. Thanks for including the examples of activities/goodies for your calendar...they're great.

    And that download is great, too :)

  10. Oh how beautiful..Love your advent calender...What a inspiring post!!

  11. Wonderful ideas Monika! Today I managed to pull off a portable advent calendar to take on our trip. Kieran is still kind of young but I figure we should start early on the tradition!

  12. i LOVE this monika! what a neat family tradition.

  13. What an amazing rich post Monika! Thank you so much for sharing the tradition, your beautiful Advent calendar and all the pictures! I also love that poster you created! Bravo!!

  14. What a great post, Monika! I love your little advent cubbie and what a great idea to hide clues inside. The photo of the mess around it made me laugh. Thanks for sharing your traditions!


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