Friday, November 30, 2012

Our Christmas Countdown

For awhile now, I have been trying to figure out a fun tradition to help count down the days until Christmas. My kids are at the age where they start asking, sometimes multiple times per day, the age-old question "How many more days until Christmas?" I guess that's why advent calenders are so popular. You know, the ones with the tiny, stale pieces of chocolate in them?

Last year I briefly considered jumping aboard the Elf on the Shelf craze. At first it seemed like a fun tradition that the kids would love. But the more I read about it, the more I realized that I didn't particularly care for the basic premise: the Elf sits on a shelf watching the kids during the month of December and reports back to Santa if they are good or bad. In reviews that I read, parents said that it really helped improve their children's behavior.

That's great and I am not criticizing anyone who loves Elf on a Shelf, but I have been challenging myself lately to think long-term instead of short-term when it comes to my parenting style. Would I prefer the immediate gratification of being able to say "Stop that [unpleasant behavior] or the Elf will tell Santa and you won't get any presents!" or would I rather model and encourage thoughtful, caring behaviors in my children, keeping in mind that my ultimate goal is not kids who behave perfectly short-term when a reward is dangled in front of them, but instead future adults who are kind, self-motivated, and look for ways to help others.

Okay, off my soapbox now!

Once again, this year the desire for a fun Christmas countdown tradition was in the back of my mind. So when one of my Facebook friends posted a link to 75 Ideas for a Simpler, Greener, more Intentional Christmas, #9 caught my eye. And a couple of days later, when my friend Brandy posted a link to a beautiful advent calender on her Gems of the Soil etsy shop, an idea was born.

So now, I am excited to announce the Kirkpatricks' First Annual Christmas Countdown!

I purchased one of Brandy's hand-made advent calenders for my family. This picture is from Brandy's etsy listing. Our personal advent calender will have crimson stitching and our last name will be embroidered across the top. I will post pictures soon!

photo courtesy of Brandy Lewis

Each day, there will be a slip of paper in that day's pouch for my kids to pull out and have me read to them. On the paper will be a Christmas-themed activity for us to do together. Some days it will be something simple like drinking hot cocoa and reading Christmas books or driving around looking at Christmas lights, and other days it will be a little more ambitious like the Christmas party we are hosting for our preschool-aged friends and their moms in a couple of weeks. Several of the activities will be service-oriented, and many I hope will help me teach my kids the true meaning of Christmas.

I am very excited to do this with my kids, and I invite you to follow our little Christmas Countdown journey with us as I blog about our activities every day in the month of December. Ambitious? Yes. Worth it? I believe so!


If you would like to follow along, bookmark this post. As I blog about each day's activity, I will add the link below:

Day 1 - Christmas Tree Hunt
Day 2 - Christmas Veggie Tales, kettle corn, and Sandy clean-up
Day 3 - Christmastime in New York City
Day 4 - Our First Gingerbread House
Day 5 - Christmas Stroll
Day 6 - Decorating the Tree and Candid Mom Confessions
Day 7 - Giving to Others
Day 8 -Giving to Others Part 2
Day 9 - Making Snowflakes
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19
Day 20
Day 21
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24

What are your favorite holiday traditions?


  1. Sounds super fun and meaningful! I love that idea! We did not buy into the Elf on a Shelf craze. . . don't get me started!

    1. Haha, Jeni! Well, since I admire your family and think you are raising some pretty awesome kids, I will take it as a good sign that you are on the same page as me with this!

  2. I'm excited you are going to blog about your daily countdown adventures! I will be here everyday to see :)

    1. Good! Knowing your checking up on me will keep me consistent, hehe!

  3. So cute and fun! I was wanting to start a similar tradition with an activity a day but was looking for a cute way to display it. I may just have to check out those stocking advents now! Also I love that you are continuing the pre-school Christmas party tradition. We don't really have any pre-school age friends here yet so we won't be doing a party this year and it makes me a little sad. I can't wait to see what you guys are doing each day!

    1. I hope our party turns out as fun as yours always was!