The boys are out of town and the house was pretty quiet. Not all the way quiet but, when you’re used to the sounds of a seven year old and a three year old trying to kill each other, the sounds of Jeremy cheering and Elizabeth babbling are totally, totally doable.
I’d been eyeing these calendars for a few weeks on social media (if I’m being honest, more like a few years) and I really wanted to make one. The one that I fell in love with was very simple. Just a paper craft with big, red & green letters on the outside of hand folded envelopes. Each envelope, topped with beautiful ribbon in matching reds and greens, contained something: an activity, an act of service, a silly scavenger hunt to a small treat. I loved the way it looked. It was crisp, clean. I loved the way it sounded, like excitement and anticipation mixed with sugar.
The numbers looked die-cut. Or maybe Cricut cut. I’m not really sure what a Cricut is but, I’m pretty sure it can make perfect numbers like that. Either way, I don’t have one and I really didn’t want to battle crazy, Black Friday crowds to find die-cut numbers.
Plus, on a weekend when I need formula and gas in both cars and grocery for the week and Santa to show up in 25 days, ribbon and die-cut numbers and heavy cardstock just aren’t justifiable.
I imagined that if I tried to make mine look like the one online without those numbers, I’d end up with my very own NAILED IT meme, like the one with the Cookie Monster cupcakes that look mutated and have, at least once, haunted my dreams.
I started a search for more Advent Calendars using accompanying words like cheap, easy and fun. I didn’t find anything else I loved the look of but, I did run across tons of ideas for ways to celebrate Advent.
I left Pinterest in search of what, exactly, Advent was and how it was intended to be celebrated. I came up with a few different answers but, I found an underlining theme I was pretty comfortable with:
A time of anticipation, a time of preparation, a time of celebration.
There are far too many old-school rules for me to follow but, I can do those three. And I decided that I could do them without die-cut, Cricut numbers.
I headed into a room that my family and I affectionately refer to as, ‘The Hoarder Room’ or our, ‘Ms. Kay’ room and went in search of things I could use to create my own calendar. This is what I came up with:
A gold Sharpie
A black Sharpie
A red dry erase marker
A green Crayola marker
A half used sheet of angel stickers
A stack of red envelopes
A box of white envelopes
A roll of tape
A pair of scissors
A half-used, red note pad from the Dollar Spot at Target
A blue, ballpoint pen (with ink!)
I cut the envelopes in half height wise, so I had 13 red halves and 12 white halves with sealed bottoms and open tops. On the outside of the envelopes, I Sharpied numbers in Gold and Red, Green and Black, conjuring my inner sorority girl/9year old and varying size and slant, adding dots, squiggles and cute, but in no way detailed, symbols of the season: Trees, stars, lights and candy canes. I added angel stickers and told Jeremy the angels were ‘harking.’
Jeremy and I came up with a list of 24 things to experience, make or do during the Christmas season. Our list included make cards for the neighbor kids, go see Christmas lights, read the Christmas story, buy a toy for a kid we don’t know and sing Christmas carols in our living room (daddy, too). I wrote each thing on a piece of paper in ball point pen, put that paper in an envelope, careful to pay attention to weekends, work schedules, Cub Scouts and Awana, and then taped the envelopes to the giant window in our dining room. The numbers are random and the envelopes make the shape of a tree…sorta.
They look nothing like the one I loved on Pinterest but, you want to know the good news?
My kids have never been on Pinterest.
We’ve never done an Advent Calendar, not like this, and they will have nothing to compare it to. And even if they did, ours would still rock harder because it’s in our house, we’re doing it with our family, and it’s not just a picture or a tutorial or a story about someone else’s Advent Calendar.
I’m sure by day 7 I’ll be yelling at someone to stop painting their clothes and paint the paper plate instead, or trying to keep the three year old out of the kitchen while I take the DIY Sharpie mugs out of the oven but, it’ll very much be a time of anticipation, of preparation, of celebration for Christmas and all that comes along with that.
When it was all taped to the window, I stood back and looked at it. The lines aren’t straight and the numbers aren’t perfect. My stocking just looks like a green ‘J.’ I turned the number 8 into a snowman and wrapped cute Christmas lights around the 20. And inside each envelope is something simple to do with our kids. Something fun, something engaging, something intentional.
24 days of all things Christmas, planned and on purpose.
It doesn’t feel so much like a Pinterest Fail as it does a Krysten For The Win moment.
That’s a good place to be.
Happy Saturday, Friends.
go. do. be.