This year, I thought I’d make the holiday celebrations more exciting for Mica and Rinoa by having them count down the days before Christmas and filling their December with holiday activities.

I’ve never given much interest to Advent Calendars before but when I was planning our holiday activities after Thanksgiving, I knew I wanted to use one this year. Of course, it was too late to make or buy one that I liked, so I settled for a printout of this one that I found online:

Instead of hiding an activity behind each box, we simply fill each new day on the tree with an ornament to show how close we are to Christmas Day. It works well, especially in helping Rinoa understand — One day, Rinoa and I were at the bookstore when she saw something she wanted to give Mica for Christmas. Naturally, I bought it for her. When we got home, she wouldn’t stop asking me when she can give her gift to Mica. I showed her the Advent Calendar tree and said “When you’ve filled up all the boxes in this tree and you’ve reached the star on top, it means it’s Christmas Day – then you can give your gift to Mica.” Her eyes grew wide and she said “Ooooohhhh!”

Here are some of the activities we’ve done so far:

A Letter to Santa

I had Rinoa write a letter to Santa early in December to make sure it gets to the North Pole in time. To make it more fun, we used this Dora Santa Letter kit from Nick Jr. I wasn’t surprised at all to see that she asked Santa for a puppy, although I’m afraid Santa won’t be able to grant that wish just yet.

Mica skipped this activity – I think she’s getting too old to write Santa a letter.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I remember memorizing this poem by Clement Moore when I was in Kindergarten. There’s a free copy in Gutenberg. I printed it out and we started reading it one night. With all the hustle and bustle, we haven’t gotten to finishing the book yet, but we will. I recite it all the time though that the girls have memorized the first part already. How cool is that?

Movie Night: Elf

We could have picked something like Polar Express but Elf is a good choice too – lol!

“First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating, then we’ll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we’ll snuggle.” – Buddy

Holiday Music and Hot Cocoas with Marshmallows

What would December nights be without holiday music to fill your house and hot cocoa with marshmallow to warm you up? Here are some of our favorite holiday songs this year.

Angels We Have Heard on High by Sixpence None the Richer
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by The Cheetah Girls
All I Want for Christmas by Alvin and the Chipmunks
Warm Me Up by Elliott Yamin

Every December (or at least since last year when I discovered it), Amazon offers free Christmas songs to download. Some of the songs I mentioned above were downloaded last year. From this year’s download, here are two of my favorites:

Joy to the World by Casting Crowns
Deck the Halls by Los Straightjackets