Is the Christmas advent calendar a tradition at your house? It is at mine.
When my daughters were tiny, my sister gave them a wooden box with 24 tiny drawers for the days leading up to Dec. 25.
Ever since then, I've combed the stores for miniature, inexpensive items – chocolate coins, lip balm – that are smaller than an inch and a half all around, including the added bulk of wrapping paper.
Easy to accomplish? No. Popular with my girls? Yes! "Who doesn't like little presents?" says my daughter. Indeed.
The girls take turns opening a treasure on alternating days. Usually we also get 99-cent chocolate advent calendars at Trader Joe's. One year we sprung for a festive calendar at Starbucks. (After a break, the coffee maker just brought it back – at $40. Yikes.)
Christmas advent calendars help families savor the season. They can also require creativity. You can't squeeze most stocking-stuffer staples, such as vanilla-scented body lotions, into advent calendar drawers or fabric pockets. And you certainly can't get a true Christmas present – say, a sweater or a pair of jeans – in there.
They can also become family craft projects. Martha Stewart gives tips on how to create homemade advent calendars out of inexpensive materials like matchboxes, baby socks, envelopes, and tiny boxes saved from past celebrations. And a Pinterest board dedicated to downhome countdowns showcases a "25 days 'til" made from recycled baby-food jars and another made from cardboard toilet-paper rolls.
When I was little, my siblings and I took turns opening the windows of a cardboard countdown. You can buy this variety on numerous websites, including the one run by advent king Richard Sellmer Verlag.
Other websites also sell calendars – both secular and religious ones – made with everything from magnets to ornaments. (If you don't own one yet, make your own – or let your fingers do the shopping at places like ChristmasCentral.com.)
Meanwhile, send any ideas for teeny-tiny (and cheap!) presents my way. Happy holidays!
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