Two years ago Trent and I were really wanting to start some new family traditions for Chrsitmas. So, we decided to do a Family Christmas Countdown. For 25 days leading up to Christmas, we pull a piece of paper from our advent calendar that says something we are going to do as a family that night. (First of all, what was I thinking startig with 25?! I should have started with TWELVE. That would have been way easier.)

Well, I can’t find my list from last year, and our countdown starts tomorrow. I need a few more ideas. Can you help me? Here’s what I have so far. They are in no particular order.

Read the story of Jesus’ birthday and draw pictures of the Nativity.

Make caramel apple balls for dessert

Make our own Thai dinner (Pad thai and wontons)

Make a special Christmas craft after dinner

Have a fancy dinner tonight, with candles and sparkling cider. Don’t forget to dress up!

Make a gingerbread house

Buy a toy for a boy or girl that might not receive many others (those things on the trees at the mall? Anyone have a good idea of where to find a specific need? Or just donate to the generic community toy drive?)

Family movie night! Don’t forget the popcorn.

Make and hang snowflakes in the house.

Have a family game night

Go see the Christmas lights

Make and decorate sugar cookies!

Paint our handprints on a canvas (we did that 2 years ago and it was fun)

Make special ornaments for the tree!

Wrap gifts for cousins and friends.

Make bracelets or keychains for grandmas out of beads.

We’re having breakfast for dinner! French toast and bacon!

Make a special Christmasy dessert! (This can be repeated, as I have a couple easy ideas.)

Open and wear NEW Christmas PJ’S! (already purchased on sale)

Open and read NEW Christmas books! (already purchased for $1 through scholastic)

Take Christmas goodies to relatives

Drive to the snow and go sledding!

So… throw me any ideas you have! I’m sure we’ll have some details and photos to come. 🙂 I’m thinking Sydney will be more involved this year, which will make it even more fun. Do you have any special holiday traditions?


  1. Ask my two girls! I bought them a count down to Christmas book. Your list is wonderful sweetheart. You always do a great job. That old list will show up and then you’ll have lots of extra ideas too. I do remember putting up the nativity set together and talking about each on. I hope to do my set with the grandkids(=

  2. Oh fun! My mom did something like this except it was a chain and we looked forward to it so much! We actually had four things we would do every day so we each could do something (open the link on the chain, open the door to the advent calender, light the candle, and choose a Christmas song to sing as a family). Some other ideas:
    -Go to Family Movie Night at church on December 3 for The Polar Express (shameless plug!)
    -Make hot cocoa from scratch
    -Make Christmas cards one night
    -Take the cards to a nursing home the next night
    -Have a nativity hide and seek (hide the characters from a nativity scene around the house and the kids have to find them)
    -turn off all the lights except those on the tree and lay under the tree while remembering special Christmas memories

    Have fun!!!

  3. I am cracking up because I was just going to email you and ask for all your countdown ideas because I thought it was such a great idea you had! Hmmm…gonna have to copy from your current list. Here’s some other ideas:
    -order pizza and have a picnic in the living room
    -have a snowball fight with cotton balls in the house (or packing peanuts if you’re really brave)
    -drive around looking at Christmas lights (we repeat this lots of times!)
    -bundle everyone up for a neighborhood walk to look at decorations
    -chocolate advent calendars
    -window painting. I know they also have crayola window markers which kept us busy for hours during bad weather last year.
    Good luck!

  4. Jen, super great ideas!! I was thinking of trying this myself but 25 days would probably be the death of me. 12 feels much more managable.
    SO, here were a few of my ideas.
    -purchase a gift/s for a child in need.
    -color a Christmas related picture.
    -call a relative and sing a Christmas carol.
    -suprise a neighbor (or really cool family in your community group) by stopping by with desert. 🙂
    -put the kids to bed early, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a little alone time with Trent 🙂 Maybe while watching National Lapoons Christmas vacation. (not sure if that’s the title) A MUST during Christmas time!
    Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now.

  5. How about a Crazy Dancing contest captured on file or take pictures of everyone making a silly faces? (my kids love these, we’re not super mophisticated at our house!) : ) They seem silly, but they’re really fun. My kids also like setting up the nativity and telling the story (it’s interesting to see which parts they center around; Hope talks about baby Jesus, Jack talks about how bad the sheep’s poops smells… kind of a little glimpse into their phsyches there!) Thanks for all the good ideas in your blog! I was just looking up different advent calendar ideas onine tonight. I like the idea of 12 days of Christmas instead of 25!

  6. I thought of a few more 🙂
    -put together a love box for a soldier and then pray for all of those serving in the armed forces.
    -on St Nicholas Day (I think it’s the 5th), deliver, secretly, a care package to a family in need.
    -make gifts or treats for their sunday school teachers and give them to them on the last sunday before christmas (you wouldn’t believe how much it would mean to them)

  7. From a old mom who remembers being tired.
    First of all – – – Hurry…CHANGE THE RULES, NOW WHILE THEY’RE STILL YOUNG. They’ll never remember if it was 2, 12 or 25.

    a few ideas to had to your list.

    #1 – go to bed with all your clothes on.
    #2 – take a night nap in your red pajamas
    #3 – make a tent in the dining room, get your jams on grab your pillow and sleep in the tent
    #4 – move your pillow to the foot of your bed and try sleeping backwards
    #5 – take a nice warm bath, slip into your green jammies and snuggle into bed.
    #6 – load your pj pockets with cereal, hop into bed, go nighty night and when you wake up eat your cereal and let mommy sleep.
    #7 – put your sister to bed, read her a story and do the monkey crawl into your bedroom, monkey jump three times then hit the hay.
    repeat 1 – 7 twice.
    #24 – play the quiet game, lay very still in your bed and listen for Santa.
    #25 – eat candy canes and cocoa krispies.

  8. You have a great list and lots of great suggestions. I decided to do this for the first time this year, too (my kids are 4 & 15 months). I know you probably already have your list together, but here are a few that I didn’t remember reading on your list or your comments:
    * clean out your playroom and donate toys to charity – make room for new toys! 🙂
    * bake a birthday cake for Jesus
    * skype family/friends and sing Christmas carols
    * deliver canned food/donated items to Salvation Army (or homeless shelter, etc)
    * watch The Very First Noel (our fave animated Christmas movie! 🙂

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