It is the last week of November now, which means Christmas is about to hit us full force and there won’t be anymore excuses about why it should be holding out. If you are Christian, the season of Advent begins in one week, and if you’re not you are probably still planning on counting down the days of December in some memorable way. The countdown is not only a great way to celebrate the season of Christmas, it also gives a visual to young children who do not yet understand the concept of time or calendars yet. Instead of answering “Is it Christmas yet??” twenty-four times in a row, you can just point them to their countdown and remind them that the end equals Christmas. Here are a few ideas on how to countdown the days.
The traditional Christian countdown is the wreath with four (or five) candles, one is lit each week until all four (or five) are lit. Your local parish will likely be selling or giving away prayer books or sheets with a reading for each night while you light the wreath. This is a great way to bring the Christmas season back to the birth of Christ.
For the very affordable price of $1.50, you can get a chocolate Christmas countdown with windows to open daily until Christmas Day. They can be purchased just about anywhere and for that price and minimal effort on your part, you can keep all of your kids happy by buying one for everyone.
DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE COUNTDOWN
I’m separating the cheap chocolate countdowns from the more expensive ones, not only due to price but also taste. The more you pay for your chocolate calendar, the better the chocolate. Everyone from Laura Secord to Lindt puts out a calendar this time of year and the treats inside can be downright luxurious. You may want to save one of these calendars for yourself. We won’t tell.
A few companies have realized that not every family wants to have their children starting the day with chocolate and have begun to create countdowns with other things. LEGO, Playmobil, and Kinder Egg (which is the best of both worlds?) are examples of other countdowns you could get for your children. These cost about $20-$40 and will leave your child with a months worth of small toys.
DIY CHOCOLATE COUNTDOWN
If you’re smart, you’ll realize that the bridge between the cheap calendars and the pricey ones can be made by creating your own. This also works better with multiple children. Simply buy a countdown calendar with openings big enough to hold one treat per child/person. The upfront cost can range between $10-50 depending on how fancy you want it to look, then a few bags of treats each year will have you all set indefinitely. For the truly ambitious, have a look at Pinterest for inspiration. People have used everything from muffin tins to plastic shoe holders to make their own countdowns.
RANDOM ACTS OF CHRISTMAS
If you’ve invested the money in a countdown with doors or you have created one of your very own, another idea is to ditch the treats and put Christmas activities in the doors. Activities can range from doing daily Random Acts of Kindness/Christmas, driving to see the lights, watching a Christmas movie, singing a carol, baking cookies, buying a gift for an Angel tree, or any other activity that will get everyone cheering Ho Ho Ho! Just make sure you have your calendar handy while you think up things to do – nothing worse than having to tell the kids that today’s activity is not going to happen because staying up late for a movie just doesn’t happen on a Tuesday when there are gymnastics lessons to get to.
BOOK OF THE DAY
Three kids in, we have a lot of Christmas books. Thirty-seven to be exact. The reason I know this is because one of our traditions is to wrap them all up and open one per day for bed time stories. If you don’t have that many Christmas books stocked up, you can still do this! Just pick 24 of your kids favourite books and wrap them up, or get to the library and wrap up some of their stories (just make sure they’re unwrapped and read before your three weeks are up!). The fun in this activity is just in opening the present and having that time together every night.
If you want to avoid an abundance of both gifts and treats before the big day, you can also do the standard 25 day countdown. Crossing off days on a calendar, adding or removing items from a Christmas scene, Christmas magnets on your fridge, chalkboard countdowns, homemade, store bought, the options are endless.
ELF ON THE SHELF
Oh, yes, I did bring up that controversial little creature. If you hate the whole idea, fair enough, skip to the next idea. For the rest of us, the good old elf can bring a lot of fun to the days before Christmas. S/he can simply show up and move around your house every night or s/he can actually cause fun or mayhem while the kids are asleep, it all comes down to how creative and motivated your elf is. Pinterest is bursting with Elf ideas for you newbies who haven’t had their Facebook feeds clogged with it for the last five years. If the Elf isn’t your style, check out Dinovember and let your imagination run wild.
If you or your significant other really want to amp up the holiday countdown, create a grown up version! Beer-a-Day or Wine-a-Day creations are all over the internet. I’m not sure I’d make it through a month with that much wine, but I’d definitely have enough to get me through to 2015! Other retailers have come up with adult countdowns that won’t induce such a hangover, like David’s Tea with their Tea-a-Day countdown. Head to one of the coffee stores that sell the individual K-cups and create your own coffee countdown. Really, the options here are endless. Think about what you would love 25 days of and treat yourself!