We used our advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. It's fun for the kids to know that there's going to be an activity or special bible reading each day, but I will admit that this year, the calendar was filled with a lot more "to do" items than in the past. I think next year, the boys will be old enough to tackle something like The Advent Event or another daily activity based in scripture, but this year we stuck to six readings of the Christmas Story sprinkled between our holiday activities.
We did find a new place to hang our calendar of decorated pockets, so the kids could check it each morning.
Our calendar included things like:
Open Christmas PJs,
Shop for holiday presents,
School Holiday Night - this was predictably a riot, as we arrived 30 minutes early for the 10 minute show. The kids sang their "peace songs," which my boys continue to sing 4 months later. It took another 10 minutes to get the kids positioned on stage (one in a teachers lap, one facing backwards, a couple more sitting down, etc), and then all the parents pull out the phones to record video. Of course, one little boy decided that his dress shirt was just too much and spent the whole third song diligently unbuttoning each button, so he could sing the last song half naked. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Gotta give him credit - our school teaches independence and he was demonstrating his new "buttoning" skill. I also give huge credit to his mother, who kept the camera filming through the whole thing. I'm sure that video will make numerous appearances over the next 30+ years!
Sing Christmas songs,
Elf Yourself (that the boys got to do with Grandma while Scott and I were at his new work holiday party up at Timberline Lodge - swanky!),
Decorate the Christmas Tree,
Shop for a Family in Need - this was a first for us and great fun to shop for teens in foster care,
Make presents for teachers - homemade vanilla was a hit with both the kids and the teachers. I expect this one will be a keeper for as many years as we can get mileage out of it!
Make Christmas Cookies - Scott and the boys knocked that one out one weekend day.