I know it’s way late for this, but I was cleaning out the pictures on my phone AND I have some quiet time in the house, so I thought I’d do a quick post about the holidays. Rather than talk about family gatherings, presents received, parties, etc, I’m going to share some of the Advent activities we did. We have a cheap Advent calendar that I got at Target about 3 years ago, and I take ugly slips of scrap paper and write stuff on it. I will NOT get pinned on Pinterest with this setup, but my kid LOVES it and it takes very little time to put together. I’m not one for making complicated stuff. Pinterest crafts usually leave me with a sliced appendage or drunk. Or both. Screw you, Pinterest.
I didn’t track all of our activities, but I’ll share most of them. Some days we took little trips, other days it was crafts, and on others we did little service projects. Everything is age appropriate for my little guy and, most of all, cheap.
Playdate with Hawkin, Signe & Malayna: One of my dearest friends moved to Minnesota (where she’s from) 3 years ago. Whenever she comes back East we meet up at a McDonald’s halfway between her in-laws and where we live. This McD’s has a Playplace. Despite my hatred for that chain, we spend 3 hours there, drinking bad coffee and catching up while our kids play.
Crayola Factory: Ordinarily this is a pretty expensive trip but my friend found a homeschool rate that was half the normal rate. We were in! We packed into her giant vehicle and drove our combined 4 kids up there for the day. The kids had a blast, but the craziest thing was that we ran into the manager of a hotel we stay at in Guatemala! He and his family were visiting folks in the NYC area and stopped in at the Crayola Factory upon recommendation from a friend. What a small world!
Visit the “Crazy Christmas House”: This guy goes NUTS at Christmas. It starts on Black Friday and goes until NYE. His electric bill must be ENORMOUS. He even has a Santa and hot chocolate one Saturday in December, free to the public. He refuses all donations. It’s amazing, and way more impressive in person. Just so you get a sense of the size of that Rudolph, my husband is standing there looking at it, and he is 6′ tall. True story.
Hayride Nativity: We stumbled upon a cool living nativity. I had never been to one before. This one was done via hayride. It was very cool. The only downside was that the weather was very nice so the lines were crazy long. But we made the most of it and had a good time. We had to turn in our census form to the Roman soldiers, which was a cute way to track how many people attended!
Hike the “red trail”: There is a great trail system on the mountain behind our house. This fall we took Little Dude on most of it during various beautiful weekends. He kept asking about the red trail. It’s the toughest one of the bunch, and you need to take other trails to get to it, making it a longer hike than most. We told him that it would be at least a 3 mile hike, and not an easy one. He said he was ready. We packed a PBJ for him and he sat and at it at the top of the mountain. He needed a piggyback ride for the last quarter mile, but otherwise did great.
Make a faux gingerbread house: Let’s face it, few people really have patience for these things. We certainly don’t. Instead, we used graham crackers and an icing recipe that was a bitch to work with. I share with you: section 8 g’bread housing.
Glitter Tree: A 4 year old boy + glitter. Imagine the mess. The tree turned out great though. And it looks way better in person.
Pasta snowflake: I wish I would have taken a picture of this, but it’s already packed. I was surprised by now nice a few pieces of dried pasta glued together and painted with silver metallic paint could look.
Bake & deliver cookies to Hospice: We deliver these every year to the Hospice house down the road where my mom spent her final days.
Make a water jug snowman: This was so easy even we could do it. It looks adorable outside.
Watch Polar Express with hot chocolate: I hate this movie but he loves it. And who can resist Ghirardelli peppermint hot chocolate? Come on.
Take treats to the Humane Society: We had to remember our furry friends!
Run with mommy’s friends and “the running Santa”: We do a winter solstice run each year. We run about 3-4 miles and then grab a beer at a local restaurant. Last year Little Dude noticed that the one running friend looked like Santa. Santa-Russ played along. He did so again this year, and even brought a present. So sweet! (About 3 months ago, LD looked at me and said, “Remember when we ran with Santa? And then he drank beer? I didn’t know he could do that!” I didn’t tell him this, but my hypothesis is that Santa has to drink beer to deal with those elves.)
If you have little ones at home, and you celebrate Christmas, consider doing Advent activities next year. We’ve done everything from make a Christmas tree out of a toilet paper roll and a piece of construction paper to have a family camp-out in front of the Christmas tree. You can do this on the cheap, for sure. It’s all about doing things together!