Advent 2018

I know that it’s super late to be talking about what we got up to over advent, but as I have said in some previous posts, we haven’t had the best of Winters… not that Winter is easy for anyone, but anxiety is especially high in our house from approximately October through to mid January here. And then we had loads of things happen like flooded house, car accident, emergency vets, a 3 am trip to A&E… on top of building works, it’s been quite a time. And this blog is primarily for me to keep a track of what’s occurred so I need to go through it all… no matter how late!

As we do every year, we arranged a calendar which gives the children a bit more focus and reduces the anxiety somewhat (well… it doesn’t reduce it, but it makes each day more manageable). The calendar is presented differently each year – sometimes in a series of envelopes, sometimes in little glass bottles. And in each one is a little message that says what today’s theme is.

There are days and activities that occur annually: Letters to Santa on Day 1, putting up the decorations on the first Sunday, Christmas Eve box .The rest generally follows this pattern (unless the above falls on one of those days:
Monday: Charity day
Tuesday: Craft/Challenge
Wednesday: Christmas food
Thursday: small gift day (basically, something we would have given for Christmas but they can’t cope with much so we spread it out).
Friday: Family movie day
Weekends – family related activities (such as visiting Santa, baking Christmas goodies etc.)

This year, as they are loving the whole West Midlands Safari Park idea, we did the Santa Safari for their annual Santa visit. We got an early slot, so that the kids could beat the busy atmosphere – we won’t usually go somewhere like this on a weekend at a “normal” time of year, let alone a busy one. We got there a little early, and they were first in to see Santa. It was definitely well thought out; they had the normal safari park stuff (no theme park during Winter) so access to the safari drive through, access to the walk around bits and sea lion show etc. but with an area setup for Santa. The kids go went through these little sections to break up the queue; a “sleigh ride” to the North Pole, a walk through a little winter Wonderland to Santa’s little lodge, where they get a photo with Santa and then through to the workshop to choose their toy. The ticket also included a visit to get one of Mrs Claus’ cookies and a hot chocolate. The kids thought it was amazing. Because we have done the safari park and the bits around, we didn’t stick around for the festivities as they really cannot handle it, so we leave on a positive note before they get too overwhelmed and have a meltdown. They loved every second of it.

This year, we added a new event to our advent setup that we think we will continue to factor into our yearly plans; we arranged a Christmas coffee afternoon. You can read more about it in our Christmas and New Year 2018 post… but this meant that one of our days was spent baking in preparation.

Advent

For advent, we try to take the focus away from it being so much about “ooooo people are going to give me stuff” and add messages of family, charity and special time. So to combat that, alongside a chocolate calendar, the children get a challenge and activity calendar.

Each day they get a little envelope with a cue card, of sorts, inside; the card contains a short description which tells them a little about what the day’s activity or challenge is.

This year the schedule was as follows:

1 – Letters to Santa – We always do the Royal Mail Santa Letter because they offer a reply if you do it early.
2 – Webbs of Wychbold Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Grotto – it’s a bit of a trek from where we live, but we had heard that it was amazing, it sure didn’t disappoint the children, but I have reviewed it here.
3 – Decorate the house – as it says on the tin: tree up, decs up. Done!
4 – Pet Shoe boxes – the kids use their own money to buy what they want to give to a local pet charity. As our cat died last advent and we adopted her from a cat rescue in Worcester that is currently closed, we travelled into Worcester to give CATS Protection Worcester their goodies
5 – Family Board Game Day – the children get a new board game for us to learn and play as a family
6 – Family puzzle time – the children get a new puzzle for us to complete as a family
7 – Christmas shopping with Mumma – buying the bits they’d be unlikely to get with Daddy around.
8 – Christmas Movie Night – Family time, snuggled up on the sofa with blankets watching a Christmas film.
9 – Christmas Advent Fair – A trek to Hereford is always worth it for the Steiner Academy Advent Fair. They have a cute little cove where the children can go see the Snow Queen who tells them a little story and gives them a hand made gift, plus story telling, puppet shows, kids crafts, face painting, crafts stalls. The children love it.
10 – Christmas cinema trip – all set to go to watch Jumanji and BAM… snow! We couldn’t go, so we had a snow day instead.
11 – Christmas play – the children opted to sing carols and play in the snow instead of making a proper play this year – we don’t have snow often so I couldn’t deny them this.
12 – Family Board Games day – the children get a new board game for us to learn and play as a family
13 – Family puzzle time –the children get a new puzzle for us to complete as a family
14 – Christmas Shopping with Daddy – not just to encourage the purchase of some gifts for Mumma (even though I thoroughly deserve to be treated of course), to spend some time doing the stuff they normally do with Mumma, with Daddy instead.
15 – Movie night with Daddy – Mumma was off to have some “me” time (otherwise watching a gig and staying in a hotel for the night). So movie night was just with Daddy.
16 – Christmas Crafts with Daddy – Not knowing what time I would get back in the morning, the children had crafts to do whilst waiting for me to arrive home. And again do something with Daddy they normally wouldn’t get to do.
17 – Christmas Delivery Day – the last day we had as a complete family to deliver gifts
18 – Food bank shopping – again using their own money to get things for a local food bank, based on what ever is most needed at the time
19 – Family Board Game Day – the children get a new board game for us to learn and play as a family
20 – Family Puzzle Day – the children get a new puzzle for us to complete as a family
21 – Xmas Movie Night – Family time, snuggled up on the sofa with blankets watching a Christmas film.
22 – Going to Bluestone – This year we chose to go to Bluestone Wales, to spend Christmas on holiday somewhere we knew the kids feel comfortable. Review here.
23 – 4X4 Safari – Bluestone offer 4×4 Safari driving experiences for children in mini 4x4s. The children thought it was amazing and loved s
24 – Christmas Eve Box and tickets to Elftopia – Each year the children get a Christmas Eve box with new PJs and some hot chocolate (and a new book is wrapped and hidden under their pillows for bed time). And at Bluestone they do Kingdom of the Elves, which this year was Elftopia (the review is here)