Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY Advent Calendar

This Christmas I'm striving for a little more than usual. 

We currently have our house up for sale and so due to that and the need to acquire a new house when we sell ours, we are keeping Christmas on a smaller budget this year. 

Aside from the smaller budget, I was feeling the desire to get back to basics - the basics of Christmas. Forget the stuff, the deals, the decorations, the food, the stress, the money, the traveling, the craziness....and remember what this holiday is really about - the birth of Jesus Christ. 

We always celebrated Advent when I was young. We had a spiral book that had bible verses and stories in it for each night of advent, and then we would light a candle each week like some churches do. I remember enjoying those nights very much. Sitting around the dining room table, reading about the birth of Jesus and drinking hot chocolate.

In all honesty, I have been a bit of a slacker at Christmas time. We don't get the kids super excited about Santa, we don't do the Elf on a Shelf thing, and I always would remind the kids that we were really celebrating Jesus, but that's kind of where it ended. I went through the motions; focusing on decorating the house, coming up with the perfect gift for each person, and coordinating our schedule so we would see all the family. Of course, Jesus was a part of our holiday every year, but I was failing at making Him the center of it. 

So this is the year for a change. 

Through some very hard trials, I come to the end of this year searching for more, needing more, of Him. And realizing that my children need Him as well. It's not enough to just go to church on Sunday and expect the pastor and Sunday School teachers to teach my kids about God. 
It starts and ends at home.

The buck stops here my friends. 

And so this year I decided to get the Advent tradition going again. I found a list of Bible verses on Pinterest to read leading up to Christmas and thought it would be perfect. The kids were excited about reading the verses, but I wanted them to have the fun of the anticipation of what's coming tomorrow. So I came up with this DIY Advent Calendar.

It took some time to make, but it was pretty simple!

I used foam poster board, Christmas scrapbook paper, red cardstock, double sided tape, stickers, a ruler, and a pencil.

Thanks to Hobby Lobby's 40% off coupon and their continuous sales, the whole thing cost about $15!

I measured the poster board and divided it into 5 rows and 5 columns. And then I measured out a square that would fit in each section. My paper squares measured 3"x4".

 I didn't want to draw any lines on the front of my board so I just eyeballed it when I taped them down. I'm not too much of a perfectionist and I just really wanted to get it done, so I did my best.

I cut slivers of the tape and taped three sides, leaving the top of the square un-taped so I could slip paper inside later. 

For the numbers, I got really lucky! I was planning on buying number stickers to number each day but I found a piece of scrapbook paper that had all the numbers written in really neat ways, so I cut out each number and taped those onto each square. They gave it a completely different look!

Once all the squares and numbers were taped down, I cut up red cardstock paper and wrote a verse on each one. Then I decorated the slips with some fun stickers just to give it a little more surprise for the kids. 

Some of the stickers are Nativity stickers and I put those sporadically throughout all the days....leading up to the 25th when Jesus is born.

To hang it....well...I poked a hole in the back of the foam and hung it on a nail. What can I say? I'm not fancy.

I'm so excited about the calendar. It turned out really cute and fun, and it will be reusable for the years to come. 

But most of all, I'm really excited about doing Advent with my girls. We have done three nights so far and I am already seeing the benefits of doing this. All three nights, 30 minutes before bed, we have sat down together and read the verses for that day. After reading the passage, we go back and look at each verse and I make sure they understand what it means. There has been no TV on before bed like usual, and they haven't missed it so far. (Yay!) Reading these verses together has opened the door to questions that my daughter has never asked before and history she hasn't learned about yet. 

It is only the 4th of December, so it's not too late! If you don't want to make a board, at least let me encourage you to read these verses with your family each night this month.You will be amazed at the things you will learn while trying to teach your children. I promise you won't regret it.

What are some other ways that you have come up with to keep Christ in Christmas?? Please share!

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