A few weeks back, I gave my husband a deadline for our house renovations. It went something like: I don’t care what it takes, but that Christmas tree will be going up in our new house on the first of December so help you God. I said this because my priorities are in order and because the kids think that if we don’t move into our new house before December, Santa won’t be able to find them and therefore they will receive zero presents. And look, I’m not sure who told them this and what kind of nasty person would want to put pressure on their dad to panic about the work left to do and managing tradies but let’s not get caught up on the details here. The point is that it’s mid-November and I’m hereby ready to raise this flag a notch higher and approach this situation in a Mrs Claus on 30 cups of cocoa kind of way.
Anyone who has spent any longer than five minutes with me knows that the advent is one of my favourite Christmas traditions. It sets the tone in our home every morning of December: The kids rushing out to see what’s in the box that day, Joel cueing Nat King Cole, us taking our time to sip coffee and stay in jammies and go slow. All our traditions are stockpiled in our advent, swapping out or adding new things each year as we learn what works and what doesn’t, what our kids get excited about and what they don’t, and how to balance Let’s do all the things! with slowing down and taking the pressure off and actually enjoying December.
The advent can easily become another stressful Christmas box to tick, so it’s important to match the kind of effort it will take with the effort you want to put in for maximum enjoyment. It doesn’t have to be all making gingerbread garlands and throwing Christmas pyjama parties if that’s gonna tip you over the edge. “Here kids, have a Christmas sticker,” works just fine, too. YOU DO YOU.
Having said that, this is us doing us. Here are six new things we’ve added this year, determined by what the kids are into and what works for us effort-wise, and if it overlaps with what gets your heart racing, feel free to add them to your holiday list!
One: Christmas memory game present.
Ella is OBSESSED with memory at the moment. She beats us so much Joel and I are worried we’re getting dementia. I thought it’d be fun to make up a Christmas-themed set as a present for one advent morning. It can also double as a snap game which is more Billy’s level of game playing right now.
They were SUPER easy to make. Go to Social Print Studio and click on these double squares. I simply uploaded some favourite past Christmas photos via their instructions (you can upload photos both from your computer and from your Instagram account), and then when you get to the reverse side, I just googled candy cane stripes and downloaded an image I liked, and then uploaded that for the backs of the cards.
Two: Make Christmas chocolates.
I got this idea from a friend who does this with her kids each year. It’s relatively effortless, requiring you to just melt some chocolate, pop it in the moulds with the help of your children and refrigerate until set! I got our moulds from here and here.
Three: North Pole pyjama party.
Because little children in jammies, reindeer food stations, a stack of paper snowflakes, cookies and milk and a million twinkly lights does something to my euphoria that nothing else can quite match. Our hectic renovation schedule meant we skipped our pumpkin carving party this year for promises of this north pole party instead, and gosh are the kids excited for it.
Four: Make beeswax candles.
Another really easy crafty thing to do with the kids, and tied with some plaid ribbon and string, they serve as wonderful teacher gifts. Burn them on your table for Christmas dinner, or snuggled up watching a Christmas movie. I got our DIY kit from here.
Five: Make Christmas ice blocks.
I got these awesome moulds a while back and thought it would be fun to make Christmas ones in December using watermelon/berries for one layer, kiwi fruit for another and banana for the white layer. I totally forgot about it until I saw these ice blocks in a magazine recently so I added it to our advent activity list as it’s an easy no-stress thing to do with the kids and a Joel-approved treat for them to have.
Six: Overnight stay in the city.
And lastly, I’m really excited about this one. Christmas eve eve we have booked an overnight stay in a hotel in the city with our good friends so we can stay up late with the kids, all have dinner out, wander around the city looking at Christmas lights and all the decorations and festivities that are going on and generally get high on that Christmas buzz that gathers in big cities.
God, I love December.
But first, to install our IKEA kitchen. If anyone knows a good divorce lawyer, send them our way!
This tiny section took us 11 hours to complete and you guys, it was NOT pretty.