toddler advent craftI wanted to create some fun holiday traditions this year. Since W is two and a half I knew it would be the first Christmas where he probably got more out of the day than ripping paper. One of my favorite things we did as a child was to have an Advent calendar counting down the 25 days to Christmas. It was usually a house with numbered windows or doors and when I opened them there would be a little treat inside. It always got me excited to count down to Christmas. Building the excitement towards the day was what I wanted to capture this year.

I looked around on-line at Advent calendars and most of them were beautiful and heirloom quality. I didn’t want to risk spending the money (and time) on setting something up only to have it torn apart. It was looking around on Etsy where I landed on the beginning of our idea for our own Advent calendar. (You can see where my brain started to click about making my own Advent calendar in this post.)

I purchased white lunch bags, clothes pins, a fresh set of markers, and some goodies to place inside. The last week of November W and I dedicated our craft time to decorating these bags. I wrote the number on them and we drew and colored on them. Lolly took a few bags to color as well. It was great to work on our numbers with as after we completed decorating each bag we would count from one to whatever number bag that was.

While W was at school on November 30th I filled the bags with matchbox cars, leftover Halloween candy, toy trains, holiday Pez, books, and other fun trinkets. I folded down the bags at the top. Then I strung up some string from one end of our stairs to the other. Next I brought all of the bags over to the sofa (it’s right below our stairs) and using the clothes pins I attached the bags to the string.

When we got home from school and walked into the living room W gasped and exclaimed, “I made that!” It was the perfect reaction. I wanted him to feel a pride and ownership of the craft and he certainly does. A couple of times I have seen him just looking at the bags and smiling.

Yesterday was December 1st and we opened the first bag after super. (We had decided that we would open the Advent in the evening so that Lolly would be home.) W was allowed to take the bag as I unpinned it and then he opened it to discover a small bag of M&M’s and a paperback version of The Night Before Christmas. As you can imagine the candy was a BIG hit! We all snuggled in and I read the story to him for the 1st time.

My original thinking was that next year W would be old enough for a fancier Advent, but we had so much fun making this as a family that I don’t think I will change a thing!

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