What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season? Maybe its the decorations, or the sweet treats, or the sappy movies that come back this time of year. For parents of kiddos who get completely disrupted this time of year, the favorite part just might be when its over. If this is you, I have a fun family tradition that may help just a little. A big part of why our special needs kiddos get so disrupted during the holidays is due to the stress that comes with schedule upheaval. So what about a fun Advent Calendar to give your kids a Christmasy schedule? Our easy DIY Christmas Cracker Advent Tree combines two beloved traditions – the Christmas Cracker and the Advent Calendar. Let’s see how this works…
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Why This Works…
Kids need consistency, right? Well, the easy reason why this works, is that for the 12 days leading up to Christmas, your kids will have something fun to look forward to. This is that needed extra reward for making it through the chaos that is the holidays.
To do this right, you need to carve out a little time each night for opening the Christmas Cracker and completing the activities inside. Please do not use this as a punishment for misbehavior and take this away. If your child has a terrible day, instead use it as a sort of time in if you will. The important thing to remember, is that for this to work, it must be consistent.
Because this Advent Calendar isn’t just about candy and tiny trinkets, your kids will really appreciate the family time, and you will appreciate the memories. Each Christmas Cracker includes tiny treats, a family activity, and an easy 3 ingredient holiday treat to make. None of the things inside take tons of time, so if you can find 30 – 45 minutes each day, you can do this.
What To Include…
Of course no Advent Calendar would be complete without a fun treat inside, right? You can find lots of different options from all sorts of price ranges. We typically choose things like Hershey’s Kisses or mini candy bars. This is actually a great time to use up any left over Halloween candy that you did not give out this year. That is if you are okay with it not matching the theme. I like to pick up discounted candy and wrap them in my own holiday wrapping or festive snack bags.
These can really be anything your family likes to do, and can even involve your typical holiday traditions. I find that having my family’s traditions hidden in the Advent Calendar ensures that we don’t forget them. With busy schedules and things that crop up last minute, I can use all the reminders I can get.
Here are a list of ideas you can include in your calendar.
Read a Christmas book
Watch a Christmas special
Holiday Play dough
Read From Scripture
Make Cards For The Elderly
Watch Funny Christmas YouTube Movies
Bring Snow In The House And Play
Drink Homemade Hot Cocoa
Christmas Story Telling Round Robin Game
Christmas Music Sing-a-long
Make A Christmas Craft
Play Musical Chairs With Your Favorite Christmas Songs
Holiday Cookie Recipe
Nothing makes the house smell like the holidays like a little holiday baking. If you are like me though, you don’t have time to whip up all those cute Christmas treats we all see in our social media streams. Well, maybe that doesn’t have to be true though. I have a list of twelve holiday treats that only have 3 ingredients each, and older children can make them almost by themselves.
To help myself get into the spirit of baking I do two things. First I enlist my kids to help (which they love), and second, I add a recipe to each day of the Advent Calendar so that I can’t find an excuse to say no.
You can find the list of recipes at the link below. Enjoy!
- Make a tree or use a small artificial Christmas tree. We made a tree by turning a tomato cage upside down and wrapping it in lighted Christmas garland. You could simply cut out a tree from green tag board as well.
- Gather small toys, candies and other trinkets your kids will look forward to finding.
- Print the recipe and Christmas activities cards.
- Now you are ready to create your Christmas Crackers. Watch the video tutorial below for a great way to make the crackers using things you have around the house. Make sure to give each cracker a number for each day in your countdown. We typically do the twelve days of Christmas or it gets a bit long in our house.
- Fasten each cracker to your tree. Each day, have the kids take a cracker down from the tree and open it. Watch for giggles and smiles.
- FYI, if you don’t have room for a tree, you could tie the crackers together into a countdown garland as well.
For more great Christmas ideas to try this year, check out the links below!