Every year I craft a Christmas advent calendar for my three daughters. I first came up with this idea a few years ago through Parents Magazine. They included a very clever idea for an advent calendar in their December issue. I have included a link at the bottom of this post to a video on how to make their Christmas tree advent calendar.
Below you will see this year’s creation. I used a bulletin board purchased from Amazon. It is covered with white flannel fabric and ribbons. I am able to reuse the board year after year. I have used baking cups covered with tissue paper and stamped with numbers. The perfect size baking cups can be found at Shop Sweet Lulu.
I LOVE creating and sharing this advent calendar with my girls, aside from one little problem! Every year I am left wondering what I should put in the cute little advent calendar cups. Parent Magazine chooses to fill them with peppermint candies, but honestly I’m not thrilled about my kids having those, or similar sugary treats night after night. I am sure you have also noticed the general over exposure to treats this time of the year. The last thing I want my ramped-up 4 year old to have is another piece of candy after her daycare’s Christmas party where candy was in full evidence AND a dinner in which her broccoli was thoroughly scorned.
Last year I tried including little trinkets from a popular online company. Plastic rings, bracelets and Christmas tattoos. This proved to be fun for one or two nights, but after 24 days of plastic clutter I realized my mistake. Everywhere I turned I found little plastic pieces on the floor. When, at two in morning, I stepped on a star ring (with, I might add, very pointy ends) I vowed to never dole out plastic trinkets again! I’m pretty sure the earth will thank me as well!
This brings me to this year. After some thinking, I have dreamed up a solution that seems to actually be fun, educational, and sugar-free! Here’s how it goes… Every day I include a letter stamp in the advent calendar cups. I also created a riddle sheet. The sheet has little boxes with numbers under them. Each day my kids will use their newly revealed stamp to stamp the boxes with the corresponding day’s number. By the 24th they should have stamped out a riddle.
This year the riddle is:
A surprise is closer than it seems, Look under the place you will have sugarplum dreams.
On Christmas eve they will find their Christmas pajamas (so wonderfully provided by Grandma Fritzi) waiting for them under their beds. Of course they will have to read the riddle and solve it in order to figure out where to find their surprise. This will be a challenging task for my 4 and 6 year old. They are already VERY excited about solving the puzzle and have caught on very quickly to how it works. They have also had fun with their new stamps. This has provided meaningful practice for the 4 year old with number and letter recognition as well!
If you are having a less than ambitious Christmas season, there is no fancy homemade advent calendar required. Just provide the appropriate new stamp each night.
By the way, I used some adorable ornament shaped letter stamps that I found at Michael’s for 50% off. Visit our TPT store for a free copy of our advent calendar riddle printable to use with or without the fancy homemade advent calendar. Oh! And here is that link to the video I promised!