Friday, December 5, 2008

Our advent calendars

As I warned everyone yesterday, a lot of the posts this month will have to do with Christmas. Here, I wanted to share this year's advent calendars.

Advent calendars are a German tradition, and since I am half German, I grew up with them. They are kind of a countdown to Christmas, with 24 little treats for every day up until the actual holiday. As a child, I loved them, and in fact, I still do. Naturally, once I had children myself, I started making them for the kids, too. But as our family has grown larger and larger, it has taken me more time than I have to make everyone's calendars. I don't really want to start working in September to have everyone's calendar ready by December 1st.

So this year, we decided to put our names in a hat, everyone would draw a name, and that's the person they would make a calendar for. The boys would get help from us as needed, and Miriam was left out, I was just making her calendar for her in addition to the name I would draw.

Isaac drew Solomon's name, and decided to make a pine forest. The treats are hidden inside the trees, and the stars on top are numbered 1-24 for the corresponding dates. He made this pretty much by himself with little help from me, and I think it turned out great. Solomon was very happy and appreciative, too.

Solomon drew Isaac's name, and wanted to make him a lit up Christmas tree, with 24 tiny packages hanging on the tree. He painted it all by himself, but I helped install the lights in the back. We ran out of time and did not package and hang the treats on the tree. Rather, I hang the one for the next day once the kids are in bed for the night. Otherwise, the small tree would have been too crowded anyway.

My husband drew John's name, and had every intention of making a calendar for him. But because he has been gone for business so much this month, I asked him to instead just use this ready calendar, which has 24 little pockets. Not homemade, but John loves it no less.

I was responsible for Miriam's calendar, but decided to reuse the one I had made for Isaac last year, since it was just way too cute and labor-intensive to only use it once. This is the first time Miriam has had her own calendar, and of course, she loves it. I have to keep an eye on her all day long to make sure she doesn't take treats from the stockings for the coming days.

In addition, I also drew my husband's name. This is the calendar I made for him:

That's right, I didn't make one. I'm a slacker. Somewhere in between caring for 5 kids (including a newborn), keeping everyone fed, clothed, and educated, and running a billion errands every week, I just didn't make the time for it. Sorry, honey. Of course, I have made him one every single year since we have been married, while he only started making one for me a couple of years ago, so he's got some catching up to do.

Finally, John drew my name, and my husband was in charge of helping him with it. This turned out to be a real labor of love. Very unique too, for sure. And very masculine. My husband didn't even consult my German craft magazines for any ideas, he came up with this one all by himself.

Are you ready? Here it is:

The idea here was to start with a tiny box with a treat for Dec. 24, which would be inside a slightly larger box along with a treat for Dec. 23, which again would be inside a slightly larger box along with a treat for Dec. 22, and so on until everything is inside a humongous box for Dec. 1st.

Unfortunately, even after repeated trips to the recycling barrel and extended digging through the same, my husband was unable to find the right containers for his plan. His adapted version is in two boxes, one for Dec. 1-11 and one for Dec. 12-24.

And honestly, I really love it! It certainly beats what I made for him this year. The treats inside have been great, too. Here is what I got on the first two days: a cookie magazine and some German chocolate. I plan on trying several new cookies from the magazine for our ladies Christmas tea at church next Saturday.

And now that it's midnight, I'll get my treat for tomorrow!

P.S. The only downside to advent calendars is that the kids are so excited about them, they wake up early to open them. This involves a lot of happy shrieks and general noisiness. So this year I made a rule that they are not allowed to get into their calendars until I am out of bed, and it's helped somewhat. It's kind of like waking up to Christmas morning every day for a month.


  1. I love your calendars. The past 2 years I have printed up one for my son. He will tape a diffrent picture to each day. You have given me a great idea for next years calendar. I love the one with the deer and the stockings.

    Can I ask what kinds of things you put in them? I have no idea what I'd put in each stocking.

    Love your blog. Have been reading for awhile. Never posted. I'm working on a blog myself, just trying to get it set up before I open it to the public.

    Have a wonderful day.

  2. Pure Joy,

    if you like I can send you the instructions to that calendar, just email me at and I will email them to you.

    As far as what I put in them, I usually do about half candy and half little toys. For the candy, I shop at the German deli and Trader Joe's because they have really cute chocolates and treats that are a lot more wholesome than the regular candies at the store (which are full of artificial ingredients). For the toys, the Dollar Tree and craft stores are great. At michaels, i found paint-your-own plaster ornaments for 40 cents, and the dollar store had cute holiday themed coloring sheets, erasers, etc. I never spend more than $1 per day, but usually much less than that. What you can put in also depends on the size of the calendar.

    Glad you enjoy reading my blog!


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