I’ve re-instated the family activities advent calendar this year.
I know, I am crazy and should be dealt with harshly.
But I was buying us tickets to a few events, and putting those on the calendar, and then suddenly it seemed like we had a lot going on. And there are a few old advent calendar activity stalwarts that we still do every year, because we love them, so I know we are going to do them at some point, so it seemed prudent to put those on the calendar, too. And then that left only like, four empty days, and I decided to fill them with simple things and Bob’s Your Uncle, there was an advent calendar.
It helps too that the big kids don’t really have a lot of weekday events going on anymore, so we’re all around more in the evenings, and Little Miss Sunshine has a later bedtime now, so we have reclaimed some family time that was lost the last few years to homework and sports and widely different bedtimes.
I’ll let you know if I’m still sane in January.
But if you have older teenaged kids and are considering it, I thought I’d include a list of this year’s planned activities, to give you ideas (hopefully: NOT the idea to come over to my place with a shotgun and a body bag).
- Put up the tree
- Shop and donate to Toy Mountain and the Kanata Stocking Project
- Play Singalong Live to win a prize (more on this below)
- Do a Christmas puzzle
- Ice Cream Sundae night
- Read all our Christmas picture books
- Carp Farmer’s Market Christmas craft market, plus three of us are going to The Debaters Holiday Tour at the NAC
- Glow Fair – a new event at the EY Centre (tickets required)
- Hide and seek with our stuffed Santa and Rudolph
- Jammies dance party
- Have a hot chocolate with marshmallows
- Make Peppermint Bark (or some other Christmas treat, TBD)
- Break out the Thomas trains and set up a track around the tree
- Magic of Lights drive at Wesley Clover Park (ticket required)
- Open house at my sister’s place downtown, combined with visit to Parliament Hill and Confederation Park to see the Lights Across Canada display
- Watch The Sound of Music
- Wrap a present for your siblings
- Have a candy cane
- Nail Polish night
- Rock Band night
- Vintage Village of Lights at Cumberland Museum (tickets required)
- Mario Party night
- Teddy Bear Picnic – this is where each kid invites a favourite stuffie and we have dinner on the floor like a picnic
- Go see the new Star Wars (tickets already bought, I am STUPID EXCITED); also, have our traditional fancy Christmas dinner
- Family Board Games Day
More on Singalong Live: this is a game we stole from Neil Patrick Harris where you play a song, and pause it at some point, and the person playing has to sing the next line. I prepare these in advance by bringing up a song the whole family knows on YouTube and looking for a good place to pause it, then making a strip of paper with the song name and a “stop time” for the video. Then the other four of us take turns pulling a slip of paper from a bag, and I play the video and stop it at the correct time. If they get it right, great! Three right answers and you get a prize (always a funny or Christmas-related picture book). If you don’t get it right, someone else can steal.
This game by far takes the most prep and organization on the Advent Calendar list but it is so very, very beloved in our house that we have played it every year, even when not officially doing the calendar thing. If you have the time to set it up, it is worth it.
Oh, I just realized I have my own slips in a big Word document! I’m happy to share it although it is VERY tuned to my own family (i.e. all the songs we listen to as a group on a regular basis) but if you want a quick way to join in the fun, let me know and I’ll mail it to you. I add new ones every year so it’s a pretty long list now. I can also recommend some picture-book hits of the past if you’re looking for those, too.
I’m not sure my older two kids care very much, but my youngest, who is very into traditions, was thrilled to see the advent calendar hanging back up again. So hopefully it’ll be a grand old time for all, and we’ll have a lovely, happy holiday, in which we all actually survive.