For those who don’t know, Miss Fish over in the Fishbowl has a great Christmas tradition that I (and many others) have decided to adopt. It’s the 25 days of Christmas, an advent calendar of sorts, but instead of a chocolate each day (or just a pretty picture, as it was when I was a kid), there’s a family activity.

Three things I love about this:

  1. You can adapt it to your family. For example, our “25 Days” started on December 6 – St. Nicholas Day. I may actually extend it to the traditional end of our Christmas season – when the tree comes down on January 6.
  2. You can use it to organize your month and decide what is important to you. For example, I have decided I want to make & decorate cookies for a long list of people. If I want to include my 2 year old, this is not a quick process. So we will actually have 4 of our days devoted to this: 1 to make (and refridgerate) the dough, one to cut and bake (and cool), one to decorate (and let the icing set), and one to wrap. Voila! 4 family holiday activities that knock something off the to-do list at the same time! I love it!
  3. That so many people are doing it, and sharing such great ideas! Our late start has given me lots of chances to pilfer the ideas of others, like the Grinchy Who-Feast I’m stealing from Krista.

For this year, instead of activity cards I’m using a colour-coded google calendar. My eldest just turned two, I don’t think she’ll really know the difference. Green = flexible, can move it around and do it pretty much any ol’ day. Yellow = slightly less flexible. The four days of cookie-making qualify, since they are interdependent and need to be done in time to give to teachers. Red = not flexible, like putting shoes out for St. Nicholas.

Yeah, I know. We could use a body-part reference here, but my boss has a nicer way of putting it: “Sasha is very details-oriented”.

Day 0: ‘Twas the night before St. Nicholas Day

St. Nicholas Day was the start to the Christmas season when I was a kid – we’d set out our shoes the night before, and wake to find them filled with treats. So on Sunday evening we lined up our shoes:

And did I mention something about this not being flexible? Well, nothing is sacred in this house. We kindly asked St. Nicholas to come a bit early (sneaking in while Miss Bea was in the bath) rather than add to the Monday morning antics.

Miss Bea was delighted with her “Mooshe” and “Buddafwy” hand puppets – which made St. Nicholas very happy too.

Day 1: Music & Decorating

This day didn’t pan out quite as planned. We have a tradition when we go sailing in the sunny south: the first tunes on the way out of harbour have to be Bob Marley’s Legend. Those opening chords herald the start of the ‘real’ vacation. And so with Christmas: the musical season begins with the silvery strains of Boney M’s Silent Night. Sadly, the evening was spent hunting up the CD – apparently the only one of a collection of hundreds that has not yet been imported to iTunes. Ah, such is life. We did find it. And Dearest is henceforth disallowed from mocking my detailed labelling of packing boxes.

Day 2: Paper chains

Remember those? Strips of paper, looped into rings that form a chain. We had a great little production line going – I cut strips with the paper cutter, hand them over to to be “decorated” with the Crayolas, then take them back and loop them together. Ideal craft for a minimalist like Miss Bea, who likes to grab a sheet, make a mark, and then grab another. And so, we had our first decoration:

Day 3: Kids’ Christmas Party

Dearest’s work has the best kids’ Christmas party. It’s two buffets: one food, one craft supplies. The kids then make the decorations for the office Christmas tree. I don’t know if I can call this a family activity though – Miss Bea was immediately adopted by one of Dearest’s coworkers, and spent the evening in his lap. Super cute.

Days 4 – 7: The Cookie Odyssey (plus Mooshe)

I admit it – we’ve made the cookie dough, but it’s still sitting in the fridge. It’s been busy. But we also managed to make our take on Krista’s Handprint/Footprint Moose (another thing I like about this: discovering great new-to-me blogs!). Ours was cut from construction paper – even though it turns out our stack has no brown paper. But nothing says Christmas like a purple and yellow moose:

Are you doing the 25 Days of Christmas? Please share in the comments, and feel free to add a link to your blog!