Christ, Making Memories, And Yummy Fun

I am far from crafty, but it seems that every once in a while I succeed with something that I’ve been dying to do for years. This is one of those times, and I am so thrilled with how my advent calendar turned out!
Being something I’ve put so much thought into, and since I had such a difficult time balancing fun, Christ centered, and age appropriateness, I am going to share exactly what I did so that anyone else out there might have an easier time if they are anything like me in their expectations for an advent calendar, and like me, are having a hard time finding something just like it on the internet (proud much here???). Bonus for you if you live in the Austin area…I’ve already hunted down all of the fun local stuff! Let me know if you know of something you think we’d enjoy that I don’t have listed here!

Primary function: Introduce my children to the true Spirit of Christmas, to plant a desire in them to center their hearts on Christ & Charity….

Which in my opinion is already so strong and innate in a child, it is their natural disposition towards life as long as we, ruined adults, don’t spoil it.
Therefore, I will strive to encourage this disposition of charity and Christ-like love, to nurture it to grow strong, as one might nurture a seed, it might still grow even if one neglects it, but to ensure it grows, and to ensure it grows strong, it needs love and specialized attention. 

The Calendar:

After sorting through probably hundreds of ideas throughout the web, I decided to do my own thing, something that:
A. Wouldn’t stress me out
B. Would be more than just candy
C. Would be only as expensive as the candy and the activities themselves cost
D. Would be a good mix of Christ centered Charity and simple, Christmas kiddo fun

How I made it is very simple (it must be if I did it):
  • A large frame (I spotted this one beside a dumpster the day before)
  • Bakers twine (or any kind of string/yarn)
  • Clothes pins
  • Candy
  • Fabric scraps - fold a big piece of fabric in half and cut out 24 little boxes (which will of course be 48 pieces of fabric since you had it folded in half) of varying sizes to look kind of random, sewed them on three sides extremely roughly (I did back stitch to ensure they withstand the ripping of candy out of them), then flip them right-side out so that the seam is on the inside. The tops aren't closed off, just pinned shut with the clothes pin. 
If you don’t like mine or have these materials already on hand, here are a few that I almost made which are equally cheap/easy looking: here, here, here, here.
I also found some adorable, cheap, medium sized envelopes at hobby lobby for just $3 for a pack of 12, which is what I almost did.
And here is just some more good inspiration.

The Scriptures:

I don’t know where exactly I received this scripture list, I just know that I walked out of Church holding this piece of paper that was titled “Scripture Advent”, on the same Sunday that I was going to finally sit down and make this Advent calendar I’d been daydreaming about during Church, and it just happened to include both scripture from the Bible and the Book of Mormon just as I’d dreamed, and it just happened to be all printed out so all I had to do was cut it up…so meant to be!
Never a better way to get a child to sit still than candy. So it works out kind of perfect to read the scripture while they eat their exciting new treat. 
December 1:  Isaiah 7:14
December 2:  2 Nephi 26:3
December 3:  Matthew 15:30
December 4:  2 Nephi 2:9
December 5:  3 Nephi 11:1-11
December 6:  Mark 16:5

December 7:  Moroni 7:28
December 8:  Luke 23:33-34
December 9:  1 Nephi 19:9
December 10:  2 Nephi 9:21
December 11:  Matthew 14:17-21
December 12:  3 Nephi 11:15
December 13:  John 13:34
December 14:  Matthew 20:30-34
December 15:  2 Nephi 2:26
December 16:  Matthew 4:23
December 17:  Luke 2:46-47
December 18:  Matthew 3:16
December 19:  2 Nephi 2:6
December 20:  Luke 2:8-11
December 21:  Matthew 1:21-23
December 22:  Helaman 14:2-4
December 23:  Helaman 14:5-8
December 24:  Luke 2:12-16

The Activities:

Many of these are specific to the area we live, but take a little time and do some Google searching to see what special memory making activities you can find in your area!
This list took a lot of thought on my part specifically for my kids and their ages right now. Many of them the toddler probably won’t be participating in as much, but will be valuable for my preschooler. 
It is a mix of fun outings, simple crafts, and charitable activities.
There are more than 24 here, so I have the option to skip on any that I don’t feel really fits into our schedule.
NOTE that I did not put these activities in the calendar baggies. I don’t want to feel like there is anything that I HAVE to do that I don’t WANT to do on a certain day, that would certainly add stress! So the kids THINK there are activities in every one, but really I just decide the night before which one I want to do tomorrow, and then sneak it in before I go to bed. Keep it as stress free as possible. Nobody is going to have a heartfelt, beautiful, best-childhood-memory moment if the day was just so busy that they didn’t have time to eat dinner or get rest of have down time to enjoy life.

Make it natural. Make your December full, but not busy.

  • Get a Christmas Tree (cut our own at Elgin tree farm)
  • Play in the Snow at the National Geographic snow event (Free-- Dec. 6, 3-6pm – 5206 Balcones Dr, Austin)
  • Learn about and celebrate St.Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th – maybe get this book, do the wooden shoe thing with golden candy?? Watch Veggietales – St.Nicholas: A story of Joyful Giving?? Make Santa beards for ourselves out of cotton balls & wear with string around ears?? Make Santa hats out of paper?? Or a Santa Mask?? More ideas)
  • Go on a hayride around the luminary festival (Wells Branch. Dec. 13th & 14th – pix with Santa & free hot chocolate)
  • Go to Bethlehem (Free, 108 S. Vanderveer, Burnet, TX -- Dec. 6,7,8,13,14,15 6-9pm- arrive early not on Sat.)
  • Go to a local Symphony Orchestra Christmas Concert (Free, Dec. 13th & 14th, 7:30pm -- Here for directions )
  • Go to local Handbells concert (Free, Dec. 12th-16th, different times and locations, check here)
  • Make & decorate cookies for Santa Claus (Dec. 23rd)
  • Go ice skating in Fredericksburg
  • Go ice skating on Whole Foods roof downtown
  • Go for a horse drawn carriage ride at the Domain (Fri. & Sat. until Christmas, starting at 5:30. Make it a night & go to an early dinner at Maggiano’s)
  • Go walk down 37th Street (directions)
  • Go see the Zilker Trail of Lights (Dec. 8th-22nd. Pre-purchase shuttle tix at HEB for $3/per adult - shuttle locations)
  • Get in PJs, bring hot chocolate, and drive through Rock’N’Lights (Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, 6-10pm)
  • Go sing carols at a nursing home and bring homemade ornaments or small gift. Or do a Christmas storytime. (still working on this one, I am hoping to get a group of friends with small children together to do this with us)
  • Donate some old toys to Operation Blue Santa
  • Make chocolate dipped pretzels, wrap and keep in car to give away to homeless at stop lights
  • Make wreaths and donate to Battered Women’s shelter
  • Make & give treats & cards to neighbors
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make popcorn chain
  • Make handprint tree (this)
  • Make footprint reindeer (this)
  • Make paper snowflakes (make extras for nursing home…if they turn out nice – Love thisthis)
  • Make salt dough ornaments (1/2 c. salt, 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 c. water – knead, make ornament, poke hole in top, bake @ 200 for 3 hours – make extras for nursing home)
  • Make a snow-globe (hot glue, jar, fake snow, water)
  • Make gingerbread houses
  • Turn the fridge into a snowman (like this)
  • Make a backdrop like on White Christmas (this, obviously)
*****Other festivities that I don’t think need to be on the Advent calendar to happen include*******
  • Watch the Christmas Devotional on Dec. 8th 7pm CST (if you are only going to do ONE Christ centered thing as a family…do this one!)
  • Preparing and performing a talent for the family on Christmas Eve. or Christmas Day
  • Telling the nativity story in front of our fireplace fire on Christmas eve. (Felt board printable)
  • Opening PJs and a new Christmas book on Christmas eve.
  • Help kids make homemade gifts for the kids to give from themselves to their little friends
  • Christmas storytimes at Barnes & Noble (Wednesdays @ 11am – Arboretum)
  • Polar Express storytime at Barnes & Noble (Dec. 6th @ 7pm, wear pjs)
  • See the lights at a super decked out home nearby (2207 Klattenhoff Dr., Austin, TX 78728)
  • Christmas storytimes at our library (Wells Branch @10:30 & 11:15 on Mon & Fri)
  • Movies to watch:
    -A Charlie Brown Christmas
    -It’s a wonderful life
    -White Christmas
    -A Chipmunk Christmas
    -Veggietales – St.Nicholas: A story of Joyful Giving
    -Chuck Jones’ original How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    -The Grinch
    -Miracle on 34th Street
*****Yet more festivities- these ones aren't on my priority list, but maybe someone reading this would be interested*******
  • More Christmas Musical Performances - the more expensive ones (this Nutcracker Ballet Fri. & Sat. $15-$50, this Messiah Dec. 7th $20/ea, this Dec. 13th $20/ea, this Dec. 14th $25/ea)
  • Lady Bird Johnson Luminations Holiday Light Event (free with 2 cans of food, dec. 14th & 15th, 6-9pm - frosty the snowman, caroling, crafts)
  • Snow at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave (Free, 12700 hill country blvd, bee cave, 78738 dec 7th & 21st. 12-4pm)
  • Choral Concert at the capitol (free, Dec. 7th 12pm 1100 congress st. - choir info here)
  • Its a Wonderful Life live radio show ($25 Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun till dec. 22nd.-- more info
  • Go to Follow The Star (walk/drive through/live nativity type of performance where you walk through 10 critical scenes from Christ's life -- cedar park - Dec. 5,6,7 from 6:30-9:30 free, bring nonperishable food items. Good Shepherd Lutheran, 700 W. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park, TX 78613)
texas_christmas_houseLast year again. The Christmas Card picture that never made it onto a Christmas card. Ay. And yes, I’m starting to realize that Mike and I are always kissing in our family pictures while our kids are looking not at the camera. What can I say, we do what’s natural.

Edit: added a few more Austin events I came across!


  1. So great! I'll want to do it someday...not this year, but once Rosie's older I think this will be a lot of fun.

    I pinned it :)

  2. I've already commented, but I've been meaning to ask - Is that the front of your house?

    1. Yes silly its the front of our house :). Cute hu?! I can't believe I didn't get a similar picture this year or even a decent picture of all of our Christmas decor additions! We put lights around the whole front right under the edge of the roof. And there is a tree camera right just barely out of the picture that we wrapped with lights. Everything white lights, it was magical :-).
      Oh and Rosie would totally love the Advent calendar next year, I was surprised that Urban would go to it every morning and point to it, then look at me (and make some kind of noise that meant, give it me). Of course, she was driven purely by candy, which I NEVER would have done when Atlas was 1.5 yrs old...so maybe you could instead do like....a fun little toy, or one or two m&ms in each bag.... :)