I have a suggestion for an alternative advent calendar which is based on my book, ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ but is perhaps more suitable for children, or is something which the whole family can join in with producing and then following.
The idea is to make (or use) 24 little paper envelopes, which can be made from coloured paper, Christmas paper, plain file paper or even newspaper – anything you want. They can be decorated in any way you with too – this you can set the children or the most artistic person in your household to work on.
Ready made envelopes can be used to save time, or pieces of paper simply folded in two and glued or sellotaped shut. I have made mine from red and green crepe paper. To do this:
- Cut 24 pieces of paper, each 12 cm x 18 cm.
- As in the illustration above, fold each paper almost in half, leaving a flap of around 2 cm.
- Glue both sides together and then cut the top flap into an envelope shape and fold over.
- Trim down both sides of envelope with pinking shears or decorative craft scissors, write a number from 1 to 24 on the front of each envelope and decorate as desired – I have simply stuck a smidgen of mini tinsel on the front of mine instead of a ‘stamp’!
- Think of 24 things which a person can do to contribute to the preparations for Christmas, or to entertain everyone else in the household. For instance, find six jokes and tell them to everyone else; become someone’s ‘servant for the day/afternoon/an hour and agree to help them in whatever way they wish, or make everyone a hot drink… and so it goes.
- Finding 24 helpful, seasonal ideas with which to fill the envelopes need not fall to you alone. Divide 24 by the number of people in your household and get each person to think of that number of contributions. Everyone needs to write them out separately on pieces of paper, fold them up and place them all in a bowl or some kind of container. Mix them up, and then randomly give everyone the same number of envelopes and allow them to fill with the folded suggestions from the container and seal them.
- Then each person goes alone into a designated room – or you might wish to use the whole house! – and secretly hides their envelopes. Then the next person hides their envelopes, and the next, until they are all hidden.
- On the 1st December, the youngest member of the family has to find the envelope with No. 1 written on the front and carry out whatever the message inside tells them to do.
- On 2nd December, the next in age has to set off and find envelope No 2 and carry out the instructions which it contains… and so on.
This helps people to come together, share and makes sure that everyone is included, regardless of age or ability. It also helps to start slowly building the excitement, encourages everyone to join in and take responsibility for organising or performing some task or function but also helps to take a little of the focus off Christmas Day and spreads the activity, enjoyment and fun over the whole three weeks.
Many variations may be experimented with: each envelope may contain a joke or a quotation, or a riddle or the clue to a large crossword… whatever you can think of, so long as it is something everyone can join in with and enjoy the results of.
There is still time yet to get something organised before the 1st December on Tuesday – and it won’t cost a thing, except a little time and thought.
If anyone would like to try this out and then let me know how they get on, I would be absolutely delighted to hear from you. We as a family shall be using this idea for our ‘Advent Calendar’ this year.
Good luck – have fun!