Great Biggo List of Holiday Ideas

by Stefani on 4-December-2009

Happy Friday y’all!

We have a “winter weather advisory” today, which means it might dip below freezing for a few seconds and there may or may not be some sort of precipitation that may or may not stick. General mayhem will ensue. Schools will be let out early, highways will shut down. There will be a run on batteries and water and canned goods. 

We get so little snow here that we like to make a BIG honking deal out of it when we do 🙂

As you can imagine, the boys’ faces are plastered to the windows. They don’t want to miss it if a flake should fall. 

Before I join them, I wanted to share with you some of the holiday ideas from my speech last week. It’s a lot of information, so grab a cuppa and sit a while. 

The whole talk was about lightening up a little, letting go of perfection and expectations and just making the advent season about preparing our hearts to really receive the joy that was meant for us this season, and about soaking up our time with the little people in our lives. 

We really only get a handful of Christmases, all of us under one roof, to make memories that will last a life time. So we do what we can to ensure that the time we have is simple, sweet and full of joy and love. 

Picture 3 

Gifts Kids Can Make

Kids really do love to give, and we try honor that by helping them find fun things to make and do for the people that they love. Making gifts with kids is not always easy or neat, and things almost never go according to plan, but I think it’s so important. The only way a child can learn that it really IS better to give than to receive is to experience the sweetness that comes with giving, over and over, to give at least as often as they get!

Here are a few ideas from the ranch and also some of my favorites from around the blogosphere: 

**    Bread quilts

**    Apple Butter

**    Matching games

**    Calendars

**    Chocolate spoons

**    Peppermint bark

**    Bulb jars

**    Salt dough or shrinky dink ornaments

**    Framed artwork

**    Freezer paper stenciled tea towels, placemats, tees, onsies or tote bags

**  Decorated bags of nuts

**    Crystal growing kits

**   Scented play dough and a fun cookie cutter.

**    Yule Logs

**    Carved soap

**    Hand printed notecards (or these)

Advent Extras:

*   Jotham’s Journey – This book is new to us this year, and my guys are really loving it. It’s a daily reading about a young shepherd boy who gets separated from his nomadic family. He has lots of thrilling and sometimes dangerous adventures as he tries to find his clan. At the end of each “episode” is a family devotional, which at least so far, have been really thought provoking. 

 * Wreaths and candle holders. I have been searching for YEARS for the perfect Advent candleholder, something wooden, an heirloom that we’d still be using, years from now with our hordes of grandchildren. In the mean time, we’ve just been using a wreath and glass candholders. But, I do think I’ve found just the thing! Take a look! Of course I don’t see that fitting in the budget this year… but one day. I double dog dare you to poke around that site a not find about a gazillion things to love!


 There’s lots of great ideas for advent calendars out there. And you really shouldn’t miss Grace’s thoughts and resources for celebrating advent here

We’ve done advent calendars lots of ways over the years, but this year we’re just doing envelopes. The boys find a new one on our table each morning and the anticipation rises all day until we open it over dinner. Wouldn’t our envelopes fit so nicely into this little holder

Yeah, I think so too. 

As Grace said, we try to use the advent calendar to make space for things we’re hoping to do as a family anyhow. It’s a great way to make sure that we make room for family fun during all the crazy busyness of the season. Here are a few of the things the boys may see when they open their envelopes this year:  

*    Stay
up late to sing Christmas songs

*    Drive
around to see the lights

*    Popcorn
and holiday movie night

*    Coffeehouse

*    Gingerbread
pancakes for dinner

*    A
new Christmas book and related activity

*   Hot
cocoa and game night

*    Flashlight

*    Build
a blanket fort

*    Make
a graham house

*    Make
and give cookies

*    Work
a holiday puzzle

*    Choose
a name from a giving tree and shop for gifts

*    Bread
making (and delivering!)

*    String
bells to hang on your  bedroom door

*    Put
up lights/decorations in their rooms

*    A
new set of watercolors and brushes

*   A
new coloring book and fresh crayons, along with envelopes and stamps to mail
their art to loved ones

*   Adding
to a collection (snow village houses, a snow globe, ornaments, etc)

*    Writing
to or visiting Santa

*    Attending
an event or performance

*    Candlelight
“fancy” dinner

*    Scavenger

*    A
family hike

*   A
fire and smores

*    Ice

*    Making

*    Decorating
the Christmas tree

*   Making
gift bags for the homeless

* Passing out gifts at a local children’s home

* Play our christmas songs (on their instruments) at a nursing home

*    Making
a special gift for a loved one

*    Have
a living room campout

*    Make
sock puppets and put on a show

*   Food
coloring! (add cups, spoons, bowls and water for lots of mixing fun!)

*    Crazy
straws and warm vanilla milk


Advent Ideas


Holiday/Winter books are a really special part of our advent season. We have four big milk crates that house our seasonal books. Bringing down the powder blue one that holds our holiday books is always a big event. Over the years we have done little activities along with the reading of each new book. Now, the boys really remember those activities and MUST do them again as each story is retold. The little ritual of repeating these activities has become a very sweet and comforting part of our advent fun. 

Some of our favorite stories and some go-along activities: 

*    The
Gingerbread Man
Aylesworth (or any of the many variations!)– make ginger or cinnamon scented
play dough

*    Cranberry
, Wende Devlin– play in a bathtub cranberry bog

*    Robert
Frost’s Stopping By Woods, illustrated by Susan Jeffers – make a pine
cone or cardboard tube bird feeder

*    White
Snow Bright Snow
, Alvin Tresselt – cut snowflakes and/or cover the tables with brown packing paper and create snow scenes with white crayons. 

*    Katie
and the Big Snow
, Virginia Lee Burton – play with shaving cream!

*   Mr.
Willowby’s Christmas Tree
, Robert Barry– put up and decorate small trees in their rooms. 

*    The
Littlest Angel
– make treasure boxes or have a treasure hunt

*   Clown
of God
 Tomie dePaola – juggle
with balloons.

*    Legend
of The Poinsettia
, Tomie dePaola– make paper poinsettias or visit a
nursery and pick one out.

*    Tomten
, Astrid Lindgrin– play stuffed animal zoo, or animal charades

*   Tomten
and the Fox
, Astrid Lindgrin– have oatmeal for dinner and leave a little
out for the fox.

*    Legend
of the Candy Cane
, Lori Walburg VandenBosch– Make peppermint bark 

*    The
, make mittens!

*    Polar
, Chris VanAllsburg – make a jingle bell necklace or door hanger

*  The
Night Before Christmas
, Clement C. Moore– hang your stockings and leave
cookies for santa

*    Frosty
the Snowman
, Jack Rollins– Have a sock snowball fight.

I’ve recently discovered that we’re not the only ones who like to pair holiday activities and books. You can find some great ideas at the Crafty Crow’s Book & Activity Advent!

I hope that you guys have a wonderful, cozy weekend! Be sure to join me on Monday because we have a really fun giveaway planned!

Jade December 4, 2009 at 7:50 am

what an incredible list stef! thank you so much for sharing your idears! we missed you last night!!

Stefani December 4, 2009 at 7:52 am

How was it????? I can’t wait to hear every juicy bit!

Kelly December 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

what a fantastic post/resource – thanks!!

and it was 15 this morning when I woke up here. I don’t even want to know what the wind chill is on top of that. It’s cold, how about that.

Lia December 4, 2009 at 8:45 am

Love all the great ideas! I had already planned on a bread quilt for my father-in-law. He is quite a bread-maker and will love it.

Did you see the memory game idea using family photos in one of the recent Joann’s fliers? I was thinking of doing baby pictures and current pics for the match-ups for my three year old niece.

Kerry December 4, 2009 at 9:01 am

I was just talking to my 5 year old this morning about what he wanted to make for his sisters, this is such a perfectly timed resource. He’s already decided to make his dad a robot? We may have to enlist some help from Pop pop on that one. Thank you, I always love your ideas and love to hear about the things you do with your boys. I have one boy and 3 girls so sometimes it takes a little inspiration to find things he can get excited about too.

Annika December 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

What wonderful ideas!

Cassandra December 4, 2009 at 10:16 am

There is so much goodness here! Thanks for sharing!

Catherine December 4, 2009 at 11:17 am

Batten down the hatches for the blizzard!!! Last year, they closed school in southern Virginia on Presidents Day because snow was predicted. The irony was there was snow on the school make up day. Enjoy the anticipation of flurries!!!

Great list of advent ideas!!

I’m working on that perfection thing too. I’m evaluating what is necessary and culling out the rest.

ali December 4, 2009 at 11:59 am

Wow! What a most excellent list of ideas! I’m gonna have to keep this open so I can refer back to it over the next few days.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us 🙂

Valarie Budayr December 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

I appreciate you so much for writing the most incredible list of things to do. Not only that but I love the way you make it a whole blogging community affair with wonderful links to new friends. May you have the most wonderfully festive season. !

Christie December 4, 2009 at 1:56 pm

On perfection, I had to give up years ago on helping my daughter decide what to make people for Christmas and helping her execute. When I finally figured out everyone would be happier if I remained totally hands off everything improved. Now my daughters gifts come with a descriptive statement of what all this stuff glued together is. She’s eight now, and still wants no part of making something that comes from someone else’s creative energy, and her gifts still need to come a narrative of what it is and how it works. Grandpa is getting this year a hand warmer (just one) made from stuff that was gleaned from the coffee shop counter.

Mama Urchin December 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm

We’re expecting snow tomorrow. I’m sure the stores are cleaned out of toilet paper.

We’re big fans of Alvin Tresselt here though we don’t have the book you mentioned. I cleaned out the holiday/winter books at the library the other day to supplement those we have at home.

brit December 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Your prints, they are killing me. LOVE THEM!!!

maya December 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm

what a crazy good list!!! thank you so much for including me in such a special post!xox

Lyndsey December 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Ok, so that’s a ridiculous number of AMAZING ideas for kids and families! I can’t wait until my little guy’s next christmas season. We’re not generally big into Christmas, but I’m finding so many great ideas for celebrating the holiday season and the FAMILY that I’m becoming inspired!

Amy December 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Fabulous ideas.. I am bookmarking this! Thank you. Here is a great online Advent calendar put together by a school in Kent England.. so informative and fun to do with your kids. Hope everyone enjoys it. That site also has fun Holiday ideas all relating to friends and family!

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