5 Handmade Alternatives to Chocolate Advent Calendars
Christmas is the season of plenty – and both you and your children are going to be subject to a lot of high-fat, high sugar foods for an entire month. However, there are ways of scaling back on unnecessary treats if you prepare well.
If you’re scratching around looking for a replacement to the less-than-nutritious traditional chocolate calendar, we’ve rounded up five of the sweetest ideas for an alternative advent calendar that will have a positive impact on your family this Christmas.
1. The Book-a-Day Calendar
We love this idea – and love even more that it can be part of family tradition. It does require some work in advance but can be done surprisingly cheaply. Books can be picked up for literally pennies on secondhand online stores as well as in bookshops and charity shops. Just designate a book for every night up to the 24th December by wrapping them up individually. The good thing is that once you amass them all, though, you pack them in a storage box and bring them out the next year.
Kids will adore reading a new Christmas story with you every night throughout December. This type of calendar also adds an element of fun to the bedtime routine.
Ideas: There are so many festive books! Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, The Snowman and Little Lost Penguin are just a few traditional favourites.
Start preparing: Early to mid-November. Some online stores will be very cheap but postage times can vary from a few days to a few weeks.
2. The Events Calendar
Christmas is the season where clutter can easily take over. Extra food, presents, wrapping, decorations – if you want something minimal, the events calendar is a brilliant idea. Plus, you can compile this quickly one evening. All you need is little envelopes, notes and coloured pens. Each envelope represents a day through December.
On each note, write down an activity you can do with your children. This doesn’t have to cost any money – the best ones are free. Children will love the fact that each day will hold something completely different and enjoy spending special time with you before the Christmas frenzy really kicks in!
Ideas: Movie night watching ‘Elf’, a Christmas walk to see lights in the neighbourhood, picking your Christmas tree, a baking afternoon making Christmas gingerbread, decorating Christmas lights around the outside of the house.
Start preparing: This can be done just before 1st December, and given enough thought about all the different tasks, can be created within an evening.
3. The Vitamin Gummies Calendar
Christmas can be a time of excess, so it’s completely understandable if you don’t want to give your children a chocolate every day from 1st December. How about giving them a more health-conscious treat instead? Vitamin gummies look like normal chewy sweets, but are sugar-free and contain a whole host of goodness. Kids love the taste of them too, and they’re a great way of boosting their immune system in the season of colds and flu.
Ideas: There’s loads of children vitamin supplements on the market – dino eggs, bears, cartoon-themed chews. There are many different flavours and different products contain different nutrients. Buy a mix so the kids enjoy some variety every day.
Start preparing: This type of calendar can be done quickly and doesn’t require much prep, unless you’re ordering online. Always check postage times. Be responsible for handing out these gummy gifts everyday and remember to keep the supplements out of reach of children.
4. The Random Acts of Kindness Calendar
Handmade advent calendars don’t need to be all about treats for the kids. It can be a really good idea to change the focus of Christmas slightly when your children are old enough to understand. By combining the fun and treats of a traditional Christmas, some families also place importance on taking this time to teach their kids about others who might find this month more difficult than most. You can also teach young ones about spreading Christmas joy by showing them how random acts of kindness can improve someone’s day.
This type of calendar just requires 24 boxes, pockets or envelopes with a random act of kindness for each day. Pin them on a cork board or hang them on colourful ribbon with miniature pegs. You may be surprised how good your children will feel when they realise they are spreading happiness.
Ideas: Decluttering old toys and books to donate to a local mission, organising a food bank collection, donating to a charity of their choice, baking a cake for the school staff room, writing a Christmas card and visiting an elderly neighbour.
Preparation time: This one just requires some good ideas. Discuss various activities with your family and put each idea into an envelope or little box to open each day.
5. The Cereal Calendar
Make the morning rush slightly less manic by gifting your children a different cereal to enjoy each day. There’s a wide variety of mini boxes of cereals in the supermarkets to choose from. You can either wrap them up individually for each day of the month, or put them in a sack and treat your children to a lucky dip each morning.
Ideas: Boost your cereals with a choice of fresh fruit like blueberries, raspberries and chopped banana. Seeds and chopped nuts are also a good way of adding extra nutrients. Treats like marshmallows can be added on special days like weekends.
Preparation time: These can be bought at anytime, as they last for ages. On your next supermarket shop (without the kids!) add them to your list and store them away until the festive season.
There's more to Christmas advent calendars than just chocolate - you can make the weeks leading up to the 25th December a really special time for you and your children with just a slight twist on the traditional calendar. Whether your kids will miss those little choccies every morning is a different matter!