pregnant mother and four children eating candy canes by the Christmas tree

An Advent Calendar Tradition to Help You Make the Most of the Season

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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pregnant mother and four children eating candy canes by the Christmas tree

There are 100s of advent calendars you can select from. We have probably done half of them in our family. A few my kids’ favorites included the Lego advent calendar and the Playmobil calendar.

However, I found purchasing 3-4 advent calendars so each child had a turn became rather costly. I also found in the end we had a trillion small parts. I also struggled with how quickly the season went by as the kids got older.

That’s when I started doing an Activity Advent Calendar.

I purchased this wooden tree calendar from Amazon, painted it and labeled it with numbers. In the end it looked like a traditional advent calendar, but was ready to be filled. Instead of adding candies, I filled it with activities to do that month.

This quickly became my kids favorite advent calendar yet.

It can seem overwhelming to have an activity each day, but stick with me. (And see the bottom of this post for 24 ideas you can use this year.

First, create a list of activities that you already hope to do this season.

Start with those things you know you will do. Every year we know we will visit Santa, decorate our Christmas tree, make cookies. I start my list with those bigger things that take up more time.

I type up my list with double spaces between and then I can cut them into strips to fold and place into the advent calendar.

Next, add in fun festive activities to fill in the rest of the spots.

Your activities do not have to be huge. Our list always includes a Christmas movie night, eating candy canes, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, or even eating a candy cane. They are still fun and festive things, and the kids love looking forward to that day’s activity. (Yes, even if it’s simply eating a candy cane.)

Fill your activity advent calendar with your schedule in hand.

If there is choir on Wednesday evenings, make those days quicker activities. Or if school nights are harder to do things, keep it simple. If you know you have a reservation for Santa photos, place the activity that says “visit Santa” in your calendar on that day.

The activity advent calendar allows my family to get more intentional with our time.

By spending time before the hectic holiday season planning out the activity calendar, you can ensure you’re not letting the season slip by without doing anything. Because you used your schedule to fill your advent calendar you can make notes in your calendar.

Since starting this Christmas tradition the holiday season feels less crazy. I know that I have set aside time for the most important activities, and that we have at least a few minutes for our activity each day.

You can always move activities around.

If planning an entire season ahead of time feels too constricting, I’m going to let you in on my secret. Life happens. The thought of baking with the kids may be too much one day, or kids get sick, or an invite to a holiday party comes up. Guess what. You’re the only one who knows what’s in those boxes. You can always move things around if you need to. (I have done it plenty of times!)

Start making memories without the overwhelm with this activity advent calendar!

Unsure where to begin? Grab my list of ideas and make them yours. Use them as a starting point of ideas, and tweak for what works for your family.

For example, in my family, we open presents with each side of our families on different days. So one day we will have “celebrate Christmas with the Millers” and on another it will say “celebrate Christmas with grandma. Don’t be afraid to use those things you’re already doing as activities.

Did you love this holiday inspiration? Visit my Holidays Resources for inspiration and tips to make the most of your holidays with your kids.

activity advent calendar ideas

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