Christmas holidays are a time when things tend to get hectic. We have parties to go to, presents to buy, travel plans to make. Sometimes we can forget that our kids are getting swept up in the chaos as well. I designed this advent calendar as a daily reminder to slow down, to pay attention to each other, to focus on quiet togetherness, storytelling, and generosity. We do and eat things we wouldn't normally and remove ourselves from the noise for just a moment.
I want my kids to see that I am thinking of them this season, not just through the gifts I give, but the real and meaningful connections. These activities are usually quick and easy and often use things you probably already have around the house, or simple grocery items you can get all at once. There are certain activities that make sense before others, or work best on certain days. I have explained it all below, but you can arrange them any way you need to to fit your schedule or travel plans.
You can find the download here. Just print and tuck away in your advent calendar or little envelopes to open each day. I hope you enjoy the Cozy Calendar as much as your littles!
1. USE TOYS TO TELL A CHRISTMAS STORY
This is the first thing we do because it gets us in the right frame of mind for the season. My kids are too young to remember Christmas' past and don't really understand what this is all about. This is a chance to explain why we're even doing what we're doing! You can use a nativity to tell THE Christmas story or any toys you like to tell any kind of story you think would get your kids ready for the season ahead.
2. WRITE A LETTER TO A LOVED ONE
I put this one early in the month in case these are loved ones we will be seeing later in the season, or loved ones we won't be seeing and want them to know we are thinking of them.
3. MAKE HOT APPLE CIDER
This is easy and delicious and will make your home smell amazing, especially if you make it in a crock pot. Recipe here.
4. DRY ORANGE SLICES FOR A GARLAND
I actually use all the fruit and cinnamon from the cider the day before. Just lay it out on a sheet when you're done with the cider and pop it in the oven the next morning. Your house will smell amazing all over again! Instructions here
5. LIGHT A FIRE
Fire is mesmerizing and something nice to stare at besides a screen. It gives you a chance to just sit and be present and of course, so cozy.
6. MAKE A NEW ORNAMENT FOR THE TREE
This is a tradition I'm starting with my kids. We make an ornament to commemorate something important from the past year. This year will be the arrival of sweet Elliott! It's a good time for reflection and gratitude and our tree will fill up with special memories. You can make this simple and easy and reuse things from your craft stash.
7. MAKE GINGERBREAD PANCAKES
Remember when I said we eat things we wouldn't normally eat? This is basically cookies for breakfast and it definitely falls in that category. This recipe is so easy and so fun! You literally throw ginger snaps and a few other basic ingredients that you probably already have into a blender and - bam! - pancake batter. Recipe here.
8. ROAST NUTS
We're just looking to make the coziest treats we can this time of year. This is one to engage all the senses. You can start out by cracking nuts by hand, seasoning them however you like, and then filling your house with more amazing smells, plus they give off the best little crackle as they cool. Recipe here.
9. GIVE AN ANONYMOUS LITTLE GIFT
It's so important to me to encourage a spirit of generosity this time of year. There is so much gift receiving to get excited about, I would love for my kids to get excited about gift giving too. The nuts you roasted the day before are the perfect thing to wrap up and drop in someones mailbox or leave on their desk. It's even better if it can be anonymous. Help your kids understand that the joy in gift giving is in seeing others joy.
10. BUILD A FORT AND PRETEND TO BE BEARS HIBERNATING
What is more cozy than a fort? This is also a time to talk about fun winter things like hibernation. It's fun to notice how all of nature seems to go to sleep this time of year.
11. MAKE REESES HOT COCOA
Add a little something fun to your cocoa. This is creamy and rich and warms the soul. Just add a spoonful of peanut butter to your normal hot cocoa.
12. HAVE A CHRISTMAS SONG DANCE PARTY TO JUST THE LIGHT OF THE TREE
It's easy to moan about Christmas music that we here again and again, year after year, but they're still so fresh and exciting to our littles. In all our togetherness it's great to remember silliness too.
13. MAKE BUTTER FOR CINNAMON TOAST
This might sound like a lot, but it's as simple as it comes and so fun! You literally put cream in a jar and shake until you have butter. There's a little more to it than that, but that's the gist! It's so fun for the kids to watch it transform and an amazing way to work out some pent up energy. Do a dance while you shake, hold the jar and jump through the house, pass it quick like a hot potato. Get the wiggles out and get a tasty breakfast! Recipe here.
14. GATHER ALL THE BLANKETS AND PILLOWS YOU CAN FOR A FAMILY MOVIE
Make this the coziest movie you have ever watched. There may be times we put movies on for our kids so we can have some alone time, but not today! Snuggle up and make it something you are really present for.
15. MUNCH A CANDY CANE, PLAY A BOARD GAME
Board games are the quintessential family-togetherness tool. Enjoy your break from responsibilities and just play!
16. MAKE CHOCOLATE COVERED MANDARINS
Citrus is such a lovely wintertime snack. Just pat them dry, dip them in your melted chocolate and set them on a drying rack. You can sprinkle a little sea salt for extra deliciousness.
17. MAKE A PRESENT FOR YOUR PET
While working on our spirit of generosity in the season it's great to show our furry friends some love. We bake super easy peanut butter treats for our dog Wally because Camille loves baking, but you could let your child pick a special treat at the store if you're low on time. If you don't have a pet, give a little something to your grandparents pet, your best friends pet or your neighbors. Or just cover a pinecone in peanut butter and birdseed and hang it out for the birds to enjoy. There are lots of easy ways to show kindness to our furry friends. Check out our peanut butter cookie recipe here.
18. HAVE AN INDOOR PICNIC
I don't know what it is, but there is something magical about eating anywhere but the table. Do not underestimate how exciting it is to lay a blanket on your living room floor and set out the fun finger foods.
19. MAKE POPCORN ON THE STOVE
This is so fun for kids to watch and way more exciting than microwave popcorn. My Gram used to make it this way and it is such a special memory. Pour a couple tablespoons of oil into a pot, toss in a couple kernels and cover over medium heat. It is so exciting to watch and wait for those first little kernels to pop. When they do, you know the oil is ready. Toss in the rest of your kernels (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 cup), cover it again and let the magic begin! I don't know what it is about this that is so fun, but it just is! Season any way you like and enjoy.
20. GET COZY WINTER BOOKS AT THE LIBRARY
I put this activity on the 20th because it is the day before the first day of winter. The perfect time to stock up on winter books and talk about the change in season about to take place. If you don't often go to the library I can't recommend it enough. The fresh rotation of books is good for everyone. Find my winter book recommendations here.
21. HAVE A CANDLELIT BEDTIME SNACK
The 21st is the first day of winter and the winter solstice. It is the longest night of the year and a good time to appreciate the dark and the night and all the good that it brings. So we turn off all the lights, gather around some candles, and just appreciate the magic of that. You could talk about all the reasons the night is good; it gives us a chance to rest our bodies for another day, the dark helps us sleep so peacefully, it gives certain animals a chance to feel safe like bats, owls and raccoons. Ask your children why they think the night and the dark are good. Or just enjoy the magic and wonder of candlelight. It makes everything feel more special.
22. WRITE YOUR OWN WINTER STORY
This doesn't have to be a big project. It's just a chance to bust out the paper and the crayons and use them with your kids for a change. Maybe you could prompt them with some questions or ideas, but just let their imagination run away with them. It doesn't have to be a huge time commitment or a beautiful work of art, just give them the opportunity to show you what they know about winter and Christmas and jot it down. You may come away with a hilarious or sweet keepsake.
23. STAY IN PAJAMAS AS LONG AS YOU CAN
For many of us, this is a time that school is done, maybe work is done and we've settled in to whatever place we'll be at for Christmas. A good day to do what my toddler wants to do every day, stay in pajamas as long as you can! There is definitely nothing cozier than pajamas.
24. MAKE A WISH ON A STAR FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER
Christmas Eve is the best time for another quick reminder to think of others. It's exciting to think about all the good things we will be getting the next day, so it's great to take even a few minutes to think of good things that we want for the people we love. We will undoubtedly be up late searching the skies anyway, so why not make a wish on a star, but for our loved ones instead of ourselves. You could jot them down and stick them in everyones stockings as a fun way for your kids to play Santa on Christmas Eve. Or just keep it as a little reflection and a nice way to wrap up the season of togetherness.