October 27th—59 days until Christmas—My Favorite Advent Calendar

Our countdown is into the fifties! Time is moving on. That’s why it’s not too early to be thinking about Advent Calendars.

My Advent Calendar today doesn’t hold gifts. This one is full of activities the family can do together. The easiest part is making the container—I use an old vase, wide enough at the top so that small elf hands can fit inside and tie a bright read bow to make it seasonal.

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Then fill your vase with twenty-five sheets of paper.

What’s written on each paper?

A different activity that you can do together. By the time December comes around, if you’ve been following this blog, you will have completed your shopping so you can relax and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Need some activity suggestions? How about these as possibilities?

1.  Make a card for someone special

2.  Go through your toys and belongings to find those still in good condition to donate to others less fortunate. This has the added advantage of brightening someone else’s holiday and gives you space to put the gifts received this Christmas.

3.  Bake cookies—What about these yummy white chocolate oatmeal cookies?

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4.  Shut down your computer, no video games. Everyone in the family gather around the table and play an old-fashioned board game. SCRABBLE anyone? MONOPOLY?

5.  Do an outside activity together, walk, jog, ice skate, build a snow man.

6, Start a jigsaw Christmas puzzle. Serious Puzzles on the internet has jigsaw puzzles from 13 pieces up to 6,000! Check them out here.

7.  Read a Christmas book aloud.  Perhaps this lovely collection of poems (My alter-ego Ann Whitford Paul has a poem there.)

manger  Or, better yet, this book about ME!

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My next few blogs will be devoted to further suggestions for your Activity Advent Calendar. What fun you and your family will have together!

142 days until Christmas—Vacation Shopping

We’re into the last month of summer. Perhaps you’re on vacation. Why not pick up one-of-a-kind gifts that your family would never see in their local shopping mall.

My friend—I can’t tell you her name in case her family is reading this—bought her children hand-carved puzzles,
her neighbor a distinctive box,
her daughter a new spread for her bed
a mitt for her favorite chef
and for those people who still write letters by hand, these beautiful pens. 003 (4)

Think Christmas on your vacation and by the end of the summer your shopping will be done. And the special people in your life will be thrilled to receive such unusual gifts.

Puzzle Elves Suffer from Arthritis Pains

        Poor Santa has trouble.

The puzzle-making elves can’t work.  They’re suffering terrible aches in their hands from cutting out so many pieces.  I’m sorry to say this year you’d best make your own.  Don’t panic.  It takes very little time. 

Just scan a cherished family picture, or perhaps a piece of art you or your child created and go to www.shutterfly.com or www.puzzleyou.comPuzzle You is more expensive, but the puzzle arrives in a pretty holiday box that you don’t need to wrap.

Shape puzzles for the youngest on your shopping list are easy to make out of felt. Check out this website for easy instructions.  Here’s a picture of one:Homemade-Gift-Felt-Puzzles-Fish-1024x768

           And while we’re on the topic of puzzles, do you have any of those kid’s puzzles where each piece is a whole object—a cat,an apple, a house—but you’re missing some of the pieces.  The elves always want to throw the rest of the pieces away, but don’t! They make great tree decorations. 

 001 If you want to be fancy, paint the backs, or you can leave them plain.  Using a glue gun, attach a ribbon hanger and voila!  You have a one of a kind decoration that brings back happy memories to your family.

          And my last word on puzzles . . .

When Santa comes home after a long and busy day at his factory, he and I often relax over a puzzle.  Next month, especially if you’ve finished your shopping and cards, is a great time to bring out a puzzle.  What fun everyone will have searching through a pile like this to find the missing edge piece!  Make it a family project.  It can keep you busy for days.

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On my next blog, November 25th we’ll talk about NOT planning Christmas parties.

Until then, let’s all strive for a stress-free, love-filled Christmas . . .