Holiday, Kindness

Counting Down to Christmas

Advent is a season of waiting.  This season can be so much more meaningful for families when you focus on kindness, love and the true meaning of Christmas.  I wanted to share with you a few ideas/resources that we have put into place for over the years during Advent and would love to hear any ideas or traditions that you may have as well.

1.  Reverse Advent Calendar

We participated in the Reverse Advent Calendar, from  Passionate Penny Pincher, last December for the first time.  The idea is simple and a great visual for young kids.  Find a big box and each day of advent put in the assigned food item.  Once your box is filled with 24 items, donate them that to your local food bank.  Food banks receive so much help in November and December and often struggle in January and February.  This will box will be a much needed donation and something you can drop off as a family.
My kids each had a box last year and took a lot of time and care decorating their cardboard boxes.  We shopped as a family for the entire list before December 1st and stored all of the food in the basement.  Each day the kids would head to the basement and “shop” for the item of the day.  They were so excited when the boxes were filled and we took them to the local food bank.  This is a wonderful way to help your kids focus on others this holiday season.
Click HERE for your copy of the Reverse Advent Calendar.
This FREE Kindness Calendar from Action for Happiness gives you a daily suggestion for how to spread Kindness.  My kids and I have used this for the last two years as inspiration for good deeds to do throughout the holiday season.
This is my FAVORITE gift of Christmas and makes my December mornings so special.  You can read about the sweet Advent Calendar I request from my children each year HERE.
4.  Book Count Down
This was one of my favorite ways to count down to Christmas when my children were little.  For this countdown, you wrap up 24 holiday books and place them in a basket.  These books can be books you own mixed in with library books and maybe a new book here or there.  Label each book with a number and then each day, your kids open up a book and you read it together as a family.
I know 24 books can seem daunting but you can add in Winter books, Hanukkah books or anything that would be fun to read during the holidays.  If you are wrapping library books, make sure you put those early in the count so that you don’t get into trouble with overdo fines!
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I wish these little guys were around when my oldest was young.  If your children are planning to ask Santa for some elves to visit you this Holiday Season, you may want to consider these cuties.  The Kindness Elves spread joy and happiness and leave your children daily notes with suggestions of Acts of Kindness that they can partake in.  Such a sweet way to encourage your children to spend the Advent Season doing kind deeds.
6.  Sparkle Stories Audio Advent Calendar
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We have been a sparkle family since the beginning in 2010.  David Sewell McCann has a tremendous gift for story telling and the Sparkle Stories are WONDERFUL for children ages 3 and up (although my daughter has been listening since she was one).  They have stories for every season, stories that teach valuable lessons, stories for grief….they are an incredible resource.
 The holiday season is a very special time at Sparkle Stories and they now have 3 audio Advent Calendars.  We LOVE the Martin and Sylvia Advent Calendar that follow a brother and sister through the 24 days leading up to Christmas and their search for yellow Advent Cards.  The Junkyard Advent is a precious story about a community of animals that live in a junkyard trying to make a wonderful Christmas for the Warden of the junkyard.  This year they have a new Advent Audio Calendar called Libby and Dish’s Good-Deed-a-Day Club and we are soooooo excited.
I highly recommend you check out the magic that is Sparkle Stories.  You can sign up for a 7 day trial to try them out for FREE (this is not an ad, we just love Sparkle Stories that much). It is fun to listen to them in the car as you are driving around or you can snuggle up on the couch and listen together.  Sparkle stories are a great way to remember to slow down for 20 minutes each day and listen to a beautiful and inspirational story together.
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I wish this had been around when my kids were little.  I do know other families that do a version of this without this kit.  The kit is adorable and a great visual for younger children to watch their kind deeds build up a sweet bed for Baby Jesus.  It is a nice way to help younger children focus on the spirit of giving, kindness, love and the meaning of the season.
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I did this for a few years with my children when they were small and we LOVED it.  It was a great way to teach the story of the birth of Jesus in language that is easy for children to understand.  There is a simple craft to make for each day or you can get the printable ornaments to color instead.   I recommend it for children 3-6 but older children would enjoy doing it along with their younger siblings.  It is another great Advent resource for little ears to get them ready for the coming of the baby Jesus.
What are your Advent Traditions?  Please share in the comments below.

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