When I talked my mom and my sister into helping me sew Advent calendars for our three boys, I must not have been thinking about the 75 gifts it would take to fill all of those little pockets we designed. I guess I just got caught up in the glittery snowflakes and colorful buttons and ignored the hidden cost of three Advent calendars.
So, I’m starting early this year – not to rush the season, but to be better prepared to enjoy it. I thought some of you might also be looking for low-cost, low-clutter ways to prepare hearts for the gift of Christmas, so I’ll share some of the ideas I’ve been gathering.
I knew we’d be visiting with out-of-state family, so I made a tiny notebook for each boy and asked family members to write something they love about each one. I used about eight small squares of scrapbook paper and bound them with a spiral, but you could keep it simple and use a hole punch and yarn or even a paperclip. You could do the same thing with favorite scriptures or holiday memories.
I also plan to upcycle some business card magnets by covering them with sayings and pictures that the boys would like, and I’ll cover some of our tea tins in paper or paint them to look like garages and houses – or maybe use one to make a stable for a nativity scene.
I love watching the boys create, so I will have a Lego-building challenge for them and print instructions for folding an origami star to remind us of the shepherds’ journey. I may also use some of our waiting-to-be-recycled cardboard and cut it into ovals for the boys to paint and then write on with chalk. Messages like joy and hope would be perfect on any Christmas tree.
I’ve also heard of families tucking in Christmas puzzle pieces as daily gifts and others using Advent as a time to do acts of kindness. Over the years we’ve collected plenty of Christmas books for special reading times, but for those just getting started, most local libraries have a wide selection if you visit early in the month. Some of our favorite holiday books came from thrift stores, so consider checking there, too.
Hopefully this year we’ll all, from the youngest to the oldest, enjoy the journey to the manger.