Advent ’21: Challenge and Activity Calendar

Each year I do an advent calendar filled with challenges and activities. It’s a tradition I built into our lives knowing that both children would have issues surrounding Christmas and that tradition would be key to our survival through it!

I was trying to write everyday, as it happened. However, due to a medical emergency, a post will follow, that just continued to develop and develop and impact on our lives it became untenable.

So I’ve deleted the daily ones and am making a combined one here

  • Day 1: Letters to Santa
  • Day 2: Food treat – Lebkuchen
  • Day 3: Movie – Grinch
  • Day 4: Breakfast with Santa
  • Day 5: Decorate the house
  • Day 6: Charity Day – Present for a child
  • Day 7: Craft Day – Cross stitch wooden trees
  • Day 8: Small Present Day
  • Day 9: Food treat – Panettone
  • Day 10: Movie – Nativity
  • Day 11: Gift Assembly
  • Day 12: Santa Safari
  • Day 13: Charity – Food Bank
  • Day 14: Craft Day – paper chains
  • Day 15: Small Present Day
  • Day 16: Food Treat – Stollen
  • Day 17: Baking Day
  • Day 18: Christmas Coffee Afternoon
  • Day 19: Movie Day – Home Alone 1&2
  • Day 20: Charity Day – Pet
  • Day 21: Craft Day – glass mug lanterns
  • Day 22: Small Present Day
  • Day 23: Food – Christmas cake
  • Day 24: Christmas Eve Box

It really has helped keep structure to advent, and provides predictability to both of them which helps lowering anxiety. We have other Christmas traditions too which help with predictability, you can read about them here. Keeping things predictable keeps the anxiety lower as it

Letters to Santa – self explanatory, they write a letter to Santa and get it posted off to the Royal Mail address (normally Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ)

Food treat – this year Lebkuchen, Panettone, mini Stollen bites and Christmas cake bites. They learn a little about what’s in it, where it’s from and then eat it.

Family Movie Night – The Grinch, Nativity and Home Alone 1&2. Special snacks or take away.

Charity Day – using their own money, presents for a child in need, shopping for a food bank and supplies for a pet charity. This year we were limited on physical capability so the stuff was ordered or donated for online.

Craft Day – wooden cross stitch Christmas Trees, paper chains and Moroccan glass lanterns

Small Present Day: as they had used our old xbox 360s we decided yo get the some cheap second hand 360 games.

Gift Assembling – putting together their gifts to friends, family and teachers. Normally, it would be a day of making, but this year with the baby and health issues it wasn’t ever going to be possible so they had bought a toy for their friends and when asked what they wanted to do for teachers it was “make them a covid winter kit” when elaborating they wanted to get them tissues, hand warmers, hand gel and hand cream, and some chocs on the side. So that’s what thry did. N.B. I DID look positively insane buying as much hand gel as needed, the day after news broke of the new wave…

Family Days – usually weekends, activities to spend time together. This year: Breakfast with Santa at Larchwood Inns by Farmhouse Inns, Santa Safari at West Midlands Safari Park and decorating the house

Baking Day and Christmas Coffee Afternoon – as we live away from family we hire a community centre each year, hire a bouncy castle for the kids and take loads of refreshments. The day before, we bake lots of goodies to take with us. Unfortunately this didn’t happen this year due to health issues combined with the threat of a last minute lockdown so we cancelled it and partied as a family at home.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

They get a Christmas Eve Box with something “matchy matchy, some hot chocolate, reindeer food (wildlife friendly) and some marshmallows. The Christmas Eve they get a book hidden under their pillows (wrapped). Really helps their desire to stay on track through bed time routine.

From Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day they children have complete authority on our meal plan and schedule. They have to decide I in advance, we gave a little meeting and they come up with breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the 3 days and a loose plan of activity. We then organise and facilitate this. It works well for them and helps them cope. I mean, imagine doing the thing that scares you most and doing it according to someone else’s ideas, timetable and desires, now imagine having to face it but entirely based on your own approach. That’s the difference and the reasoning behind our approach. And you know what? It works!

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