I’ve noticed a lot of links popping up on Facebook recently for advent calendars. Most of them seem to be aimed at adults and go along the lines of “OMG you WON’T BELIEVE this amazing wine/cheese/gin/beer/makeup calendar!” You know the ones. They revolve around the idea that in the run up to Christmas we should have extra stuff, as well as all the extra stuff we’re going to frolic about in on the day itself. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to this view. Raised by somewhat non-consumerist parents, I was one of the only children I knew who had a ‘picture only’ advent calendar rather than a chocolate one. Did it impact my enjoyment of the festive period? Obviously not.
However, I know that the opening of advent calendars is a huge deal for many, and although I loved my picture calendars (seriously, the exhilaration just before finding out what tiny illustration hid behind each door was intense and joyful), I understand that some people are looking for more. So I thought I’d put together a little list of alternative advent calendars for anyone who’s interested in going down a different route.
Little experiences calendar
When I have children, this is definitely the one I’m going for. It takes a little prep but it’s totally worth it. The idea is simple: for each day of advent, you do a little something which is ‘Christmassy’. Ideas include making hot chocolate, going for a night-time walk to look at Christmas lights, making Christmas cards, listening to your favourite Christmas music, decorating the house, playing a board game together and so on. There are loads of ideas online – just search for advent calendar activities or experiences. The beauty is the simplicity of it and finding joy in the little things. You can put the calendar together in so many ways, like notes in a jar, on lollypop sticks or little cards or envelopes on a line. Again, a quick online search will have you brimming with inspiration (see Pintrest – alternative advent calendars).
Decorate the tree calendar
A nice one for smaller children (although no age limit obviously!). Each day a different decoration is placed onto the tree. The tree can be real, if you want it up from December 1st, or a cardboard/fabric/wooden one. Pictures show it better than I can explain!
This calendar is all about giving, not getting. I’ll be doing this with my class at school. For each day of advent, there is a different random act of kindness. There are loads of printable ones available online which you can adapt and cut up to display however you like. Not just for kids!
Lovely notes calendar
For my mum’s 60th birthday, my siblings and I filled a jar with 60 notes, each saying something we loved about her. The same idea can easily be applied to an advent calendar for a loved one. The notes could be personal compliments or include things like jokes, inspirational quotes and advise.
Reverse advent calendar
I love this concept. Again, it’s about giving. Each day you donate something to a good cause. I’m putting mine together for a local homeless charity (Caring in Bristol) who have asked for specific items over the Christmas period. You could apply the same concept to a food bank reverse calendar or fill a box with donations for a local charity shop. If you’ve got nothing to give away, why not think about giving your time to a charity over Christmas? Spend time with someone elderly and alone, help at a refuge or shelter or visit a neighbour who doesn’t have family around.
I hope these ideas have got you thinking. If you have any alternative ideas of your own, we’d love to hear from you.
All of the images here are taken from Pintrest – apologies if they are yours and you’d like us to remove them.