For the past few years, I've been trying to find the perfect Advent calendar. I was going to make one. And then that never happened. I was going to buy one, but it had to be just right. I wanted to be able to put almost anything inside each compartment – tiny toys, notes, treats, whatever. I wanted something that wasn't too small. I didn't want it to be massive. I didn't want it to be fragile. And then, for my birthday last year my sister-in-law surprised me with the perfect Advent calendar.
I'm not sure if this exact style is still available, but she gave me this gray linen pocket calendar (from Land of Nod) that hangs from our metal fireplace mantel with four magnets. It's perfection.
I filled it with some small surprises (mostly from the Target dollar spot, mixed with other things I already had around the house.) We've always used Candy Cane Hershey kisses in our Advent calendars past. (Lo started calling them 'mintys' when she was three years old. So they're a keeper.) And Lo dances in The Nutcracker each year, so I always get her an ornament with the name of her part + the year written in Sharpie on the back.
For the rest of the days, I made little activity cards. (I think I found the perfect use for Project Life grid cards ... these worked so well.) I'm not doing an activity every day of the month ... I'm only human, after all. But I made a bunch to choose from and will stick them in pockets when I can, depending on what we have time to do each day/evening. A lot of these activities will depend on the weather. I made one for a snow day in case we have a snow day. Ice skating, snowman/snowcat making and sledding, too. Making the memories is way more fun than the tiny toys, in my opinion. Although Lo is a big fan of Silly Putty.
Now I just have to make sure the kids don't peek. Bowie hasn't even tried to pull this down yet, surprisingly. I love our family traditions and celebrating each day of the holiday season by trying to make it a tiny bit extra special. Whether it's making cookies together or reading a Christmas book at bedtime, it's time spent together and that's the best part of all.