Local Activities and Surprises to Add to Your Advent Calendar


    As we’re gearing up for Christmas this year, I am reminded of one of our most special traditions, our Advent Calendar.  There are many variations of an Advent Calendar. What I love about ours is just that: it is ours. It’s personal and meaningful for our little family.  Chock full of things we like to do and special surprises for our boys, the Advent Calendar became a daily tradition during the month of December and a highly anticipated part of our morning routine in the weeks before Christmas.

    christmas advent calendar

    We started with this adorable mittens-on-a-string garland (many retailers sell them, or you can make your own). Then, we cut pieces of red and green paper to different shapes (our oldest was super into shapes last Christmas so this added an extra level of interest for him). On each paper shape, we wrote something special we’d do that day to prepare for/or celebrate Christmas. Some activities were simple and didn’t require anything other than remembering all the words to a Christmas tune.  Others required much more planning!

    After hanging the garland at kids’ height in the hallway, we placed a paper into each mitten.  The key here was not to pre-number the activities so that we could be flexible. On many nights, hubby and I peeked at tomorrow’s planned activity and decided that’s not what we were in the mood for, or we had conflicting last minute plans, or things with work had gotten hectic and we flat out forgot to get supplies to make peppermint play-dough!  So we’d just do a quick activity swap before heading to bed.

    To get you started, here’s our list from last year.  We celebrate Christmas in our home, but this could easily be adapted for Hanukkah traditions, or other holiday activities, too.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

    Dec. 1 – Get our Christmas tree today

    Dec. 2 – Put the train under the tree

    Dec. 3 – Family swimming at the YMCA

    Dec. 4 – Make paper snowflakes today

    Dec. 5 – Sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” all day long

    Dec. 6  – Hang our stockings by the fireplace

    Dec. 7 – Write Christmas cards to our cousins

    Dec. 8 – Go to the tree lighting ceremony in the Presidio (this year, it’s on Dec. 7)

    Dec. 9 – Get Egg Nog Ice Cream at Swensen’s

    Dec. 10 – Decorate our bedrooms for Christmas

    Dec. 11 – Read Christmas books before bedtime

    Dec. 12 – Buy a gift to donate to another child who needs one

    Dec. 13 – School Holiday Performance

    Dec. 14 – Make a Christmas paper chain

    Dec. 15 – Make peppermint playdough

    Dec. 16 – Meet Santa at the Bay Area Discovery Museum

    Dec. 17 – Go to the Nutcracker Sweets performance at Fort Mason

    Dec. 18 – Christmas arts and crafts party at our house

    Dec. 19  – Make a fire in the fireplace

    Dec. 20 – Mail letters to Santa

    Dec. 21 – Christmas lights at the SF Zoo

    Dec. 22 – Ride the Napa Santa Train

    Dec. 23 – Make cookies for Santa

    Dec. 24 – Visit the giant gingerbread house and have brunch at the Fairmont

    Dec. 25 – Merry Christmas!


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