When I was a child, we had an alternative advent calendar that I just loved. It was a handmade (I think by a family member) felt Christmas tree with 24 little pockets underneath. In each pocket there was a small plush Christmas object, like a stocking or a candy cane etc. with a small square of Velcro on the back. Each day you would take out the corresponding item and place it onto the Christmas tree. By the time Christmas Eve came around, we had a fully decorated tree hanging on the door. We used to pack it away with the Christmas items and each year we would get excited to re-hang it on the 1st December.
This year I have decided to start a new ‘Cherry’ style Christmas tradition, inspired by my childhood. With Ivy only being two, I am keen to avoid chocolate advent calendars for as long as I can. We try to make healthy choices and I’d like that to continue, at least whilst she doesn’t know any different. So I have purchased a wooden Advent tree. With the growing concerns based around sustainability, this option also eliminates waste as we will be able to re-use again and again every year.
The tree has 24 small wooden drawers that you can fill with anything you like. There are lots of these available- in fact you can buy them on amazon without any decoration and then paint them yourself. I’m not crafty enough for that though, I mean I’d love to, and would start out with good intentions but likely it would get left too late or just wouldn’t turn out how I had imagined! I bought ours from Vinegar Hill and it is so pretty…I love it!
I started to search for small items to place in each drawer and came across ‘My Story Stones Rock’ on Instagram, a small business run by two sisters who create gorgeous story stones. I messaged them and enquired about 24 Christmas themed story stones. They were very helpful and even offered to include some exclusive ‘Frozen’ stones for my Frozen obsessed toddler. They didn’t have to do that, but they did, which just goes to show how lovely they are! So, each year the girls will be able to open a drawer each day for advent and discover a little painted story stone. They will then be able to play with them, and each day their collection will grow by one until on the 24th they will have a completed set.
I am very excited to start this on the 1st December, knowing that next year Ivy will have a memory of it and she too will be excited for our ‘Story Stone Advent’ to begin.
Before I came across the Story Stones, I looked into lots of other options to place inside the small drawers. Perhaps you are considering making your own Advent Calendar, or you have one already that you are yet to fill. Here are my suggestions, some of which I may use as the girls grow older and less interested in the stones…
- Tree decorations- these can then be added to the tree each day.
- Stationary- it is very easy to source shaped crayons/rubbers etc these days. I found some little Christmas stampers in the Tiger store that would have been perfect and Ivy would have loved…So these are going in her stocking instead.
- Activities- It would be very easy to write out 24 Christmas activities to fold up and place in each drawer. These could include craft activities to do at home, as well as activities like putting up your Christmas tree, visiting an ice rink, going to see Father Christmas etc. Just make sure you place them in the correct drawers to match up with your plans!
- Reverse Advent- Similar to the previous suggestion, only each activity involves actively doing something for others, giving back to the community/wider world. I love this idea, and would like to think that one year when the girls are old enough to understand then we will try this out!
- Chocolate coins! The obvious if you do decide to not to avoid chocolate. You could always do one of the above plus a coin.
The list is endless really- as long as you can source 24 of something, or perhaps you will decide to put 24 completely different things in yours- a mixture of the above, or your child’s favourite toys. Perhaps like me, you will consider different ideas depending on the age of your children.
For us, Saturday can’t come quick enough- I am so excited to begin this Christmas tradition within our family and I love the thought that in ten years time we could still be bringing out the same Advent Calendar, showing it just as much love as we are this year.