Counting down the days until Christmas is an exciting tradition, especially if there are young children around. The lead up to Christmas is such a joyous time for little ones and an advent calendar always makes anticipation and excitement grow. Now, I have to say, there are exponentially more options in the advent calendar market since I was a child. Gone are the days of poorly formed waxy chocolates where the entertainment came from trying to identify what object you received that day – “Is it an angel, a shepherd, oh it is a present?”. Today, there are infinitely more advent calendar options. In fact, there are now advent calendars for every age and every interest. From tea to tools and candles to cookies there is an advent calendar for everyone. Here are some of my favourites for the family:
- Book Advent Calendar – If you know me, you know that this would be my #1 for every family. How wonderful a tradition to unwrap and enjoy favourite Christmas story each evening for 24 days. Books can be old or new. Simply enjoy cuddling up and enjoying a different story each evening.
- Cookie Advent Calendar – Now if there is something second to a book to enjoy, it would be a cookie. Combing the two is sheer bliss. Hence my second favourite family advent calendar is the Cookie Advent Calendar. This advent calendar provides a picture and a recipe of a different cookie for 24 days. Yum. The cookbook is available here: https://amzn.to/2ShWocn and it is my choice of an advent calendar for 2018.
- Playmobil NHL Advent Calendar – Now I would not be a true Canadian if my Top 11 Advent Calendar did not include something to do with hockey. Hence #3, is the Playmobil Advent Calendar. This advent calendar includes 24 items on the way to the Stanley Cup. Kids can also set up their figures and items on an ice rink. To access, simply click on the link: https://amzn.to/2r6vPvb
- As an occupational therapist working with young children, #4 is a favourite for fine motor play. The Playdoh Advent Calendar provides you with opportunities to mold, cut, and create with Playdoh each day. How fun! To learn more, click on the link: https://amzn.to/2Q1y6GH
- Another option to tailor the countdown to your child’s changing interests is to make your own. You can access a wooden advent calendar and simply fill with different activities, treats or toys each year. I also want to create an exercise advent calendar where you get a different activity each day: Who doesn’t want to do a 1-minute plank, 2 minutes of running, 3 sit-ups….all the way up to 24 jumping jacks – I think I am onto something!
- If time is not on your side, the Felt Tree Advent Calendar can be a good compromise (https://amzn.to/2DNaOx5). You don’t need to make this one, you just need to add your treats, cards, or toys each year.
- Another great option for Advent Calendars is to follow your child’s interest. I especially love the 2017 Thomas the Tank Engine Advent Calendar (https://amzn.to/2P5IIPE). This calendar allows you to build a train track for Thomas and all his friends to chug around. As an OT, this play with small objects is wonderful to foster development of fine motor skills and pretend play.
- Another option that follows a child’s interest is the American Girl Advent Calendar – https://amzn.to/2zvs9rl This calendar again allows for the development of creative play and play with small parts.
- A fun alternative for adults and children is to access one of the Sock Shop Wild Feet Advent Calendar. This option provides a different quirky pair of socks. There are also Star Wars Socks and Harry Partner Socks – who would have guessed it? Options may be found for men, women, and children.
- Our 10th favourite advent calendar at OuTcomes Therapy is Crayola’s Christmas Countdown. This advent calendar gives children 24 different activities to complete throughout the month of December.
- Our final pick is the Advent of Change. Each purchase of this advent calendar makes a donation to 24 incredible charities. Instead of opening a window to find a chocolate, you see the charity that you have provided a donation to. For further information on this unique advent calendar, visit: https://www.adventofchange.com
If none of these options resonate with you, please find linked a Family Activity Calendar for everyone to enjoy. This Family Activity Calendar invites you to enjoy a variety of simple, festive experiences as a family. It focuses less on the materialism of Christmas and more on creating a series of memories for years to come. Occupational therapists believe strongly that health comes through participation in meaningful activity. It is my sincere hope that these activities bring joy and create long-lasting memories for your family. Enjoy!
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