Every year at Christmas time while I was young, my Oma (my German grandmother) would send us an advent calendar to help count down the days until Christmas. They were always the simple thin box-like ones with a picture on the front and little doors that revealed a chocolate treat for each day. Now those same advent calendars arrive in the mail for my own little ones. As simple as they are, they seem to bring in the Christmas season with fond memories and a bit of chocolate goodness.
Though we love that style of advent calendar, and want to keep up the tradition each year, I also wanted to make a decorative advent calendar to use each year and hang in our home. I scoured pinterest for ideas and was not disappointed. The challenge was to narrow down just what would work best for our family. Though I wanted something that could be used year after year, I was also looking for flexibility in what the “prizes” could be each year. In the end, I made a simple pocket advent calendar, so that each year we can put something new in the pockets if we like. I picked up the excellent idea of hanging the calendar from a wooden coat hanger during my search, and love the look.
Now…for filling the pockets. As a Christian family we work very hard to center our celebrations this season on the birth and ministry of Christ. As part of that effort we have an ever growing collection of nativities throughout our home. ‘The kids love to arrange and rearrange the pieces of several child-friendly sets and retell the story again and again day after day. This year for our advent calendar we decided to fill it with the pieces of a magnetic nativity set that could be played with at the fridge…another favorite. We went super simple with the design and construction, cutting our figures out of cracker boxes and pasting patterned papers on the fronts, and magnetic strips on the back. I coated each piece with mod-podge just to give them a bit more durability. My little man-cub gave them a test run before slipping them into their pockets on the advent calendar, and they were a roaring success. Little by little, piece by piece they are making their way out of the pockets of the advent calendar and onto the fridge, where once again, the miraculous story is told and retold in the beauty and simplicity of a child’s voice.