Each year, I try to put together an Advent calendar for the boys in an effort to celebrate the season and to do something fun and memorable together as a family. Instead of receiving gifts or candy, though, we do special activities together. But this year, I got behind and missed the December 1st start date for an Advent calendar. Because life happens… right? So this year, I decided to stray from the traditional 25 day Advent calendar and try something similar, yet different. This year, we’re incorporating our Advent activities into a 12 Days of Christmas countdown instead.
Now, I know the 12 Days of Christmas song would have you believe that more and more gifts are given with each passing day, but that’s not how the 12 Days of Christmas have been celebrated throughout history. Traditionally, the 12 Days of Christmas was celebrated from the Winter Solstice to New Year’s Day, and each day, one gift was given to someone special. Some people also celebrate the 12 (sometimes 13) Days of Solstice. You can learn more about that ancient tradition in this post.
Since we’re not focusing on gifts, I’ll be pulling some of our favorite yearly Advent activities and using them here. Below are some photos of what our 12 Days of Christmas countdown ended up looking like. Again, it’s very similar to how we do our Advent calendar. I’ll explain how I made this and share the activities we’ll be doing each day below.
There are so many ways you can set this 12 Days of Christmas countdown up, but the way I did it was super quick and easy. It took me less than an hour to put the whole thing together, ideas and all.
First, I took a standard piece of white cardstock paper and cut it into 2-inch strips. Then I cut each strip into 3 1/2 inch sections. Next, I took a pair of scissors and snipped the corners of each card. After that, I punched holes in the top center of each card with a hole punch. Then I took a black felt tip marker and rubbed it around the edges and the hole to give it an old distressed look. I then numbered each card one through twelve, flipped them over, and wrote an activity on the back. Finally, I strung them onto a piece of green rope and attached it to the side of the island in our kitchen where it’s visible. Each day, from December 13th through December 24th, the kids will pull a number off the rope, read the activity, and we’ll do it together at some point during the day.
Most days in December, you’ll find us listening to holiday music, reading holiday books, and watching holiday movies at some point during the day. I also have holiday essential oils wafting through the air during the day as well. Also, by the time we start our 12 Days of Christmas countdown, we’ve already made our Yule log. I like to make an Advent Yule log that sits at our dining room table. Each Sunday in Advent, before putting the kids to bed, we light the candles and talk about what each one symbolizes together as a family.
Okay. So the activities we’re doing for this year’s 12 Days of Christmas countdown are as follows. (Links to examples of some of these activities can be found in the Winter Solstice post link to above.)
- December 13th: Pick out holiday movies on Netflix
- December 14th: Make handmade holiday decorations (dried orange slices, popcorn and cranberry garland, and paper stars and snowflakes)
- December 15th: Make homemade gifts for friends and family
- December 16th: Shop for Christmas gifts for the cousins
- December 17th: Check out holiday books from the library
- December 18th: Make Christmas cookies
- December 19th: Movie night with homemade hot chocolate
- December 20th: Visit the Speedway In Lights and roast marshmallows
- December 21st: Dinner by candlelight
- December 22nd: Make pinecone birdfeeders
- December 23rd: 2018 releasing ceremony
- December 24th: Burn the Yule log
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into our 2018 holiday celebrations. I hope in whatever way you’re celebrating the season that it’s filled with intention, meaning, and good memories with those you love!
Happy holidays, friends!