Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Advent Calendars

When I was a child, our advent calendars had pictures in them, behind little doors.  I can still remember being really excited to discover which picture was behind each door, even though I had to share the calendar with my brother and so only got to actually open a door once every other day.    As I got older I became aware that other children not only had their very own calendars, but sometimes had chocolate instead of pictures behind the doors.  Every year I secretly hoped I would get one with chocolate in it.  That didn't happen until I was a teenager, and at some point I promised myself that if I ever had children I would do things differently.

For the first few years of being a parent I was happy enough to buy chocolate advent calendars, but I kept thinking of ways to make things a bit better.  When my oldest was 4 years old I realised that I had my very own calendar just waiting.  One of the pieces of furniture that I inherited from my mother is a Chinese medicine cabinet, which has 42 decent-sized drawers in it.  I set about finding 24 tiny gifts, 24 very small wrapped chocolates,  bought some tags and string, and the first calendar became a reality:

It was a huge success.  My then 4-year-old could recognise all the numbers and was only too happy to show his sister which drawer to open every day. I knew then that a tradition had been started.

For the next year I made it a bit more Christmassy, with green tags and red ribbon, and also took a picture of all 48 wrapped presents.  And let me tell you, it takes longer than you think to wrap so many teeny tiny gifts!

The children now look forward to the calendar being set up every year, and ask about it for several weeks before December starts.  I never put any tags on (or any presents in the drawers) until they have gone to sleep on 30th November, so when they wake up on 1st December it is a lovely sight for them. 

This year we now have 3 children in the house, which meant wrapping 72 presents. The presents are also colour-coded, so that there can be no arguments as to who gets which present every day.

This year all the presents are Lego-themed (in case you're wondering, sourced from previous years' Lego Advent Calendars), as that is something that all the children enjoy playing with, but part of the beauty of using this cabinet is that the presents can change as the children's interests change. 

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