DIY – Christmas Countdown/Advent Calendar (Non-Religious) For Toddlers

I know, two posts in one day, but I’m just so damn proud of myself right now. I have been looking for a way to countdown the days until Christmas with Punky. However, I didn’t want to use one of the religious advent calendars that are geared towards the birth of Jesus or scriptures from the Bible.

This year, I just wanted to focus on activities that we can do as a family. Little things every day that we can do together, either in the house or out.

So, I made my own. I didn’t really want to buy one, I wanted it to be special to our family. And, we all know that I have an Etsy shop for digital design, so I hopped onto Photoshop and made up some cute little Christmas Countdown cards and took some fun ideas from Pinterest as well as from mine and Kim’s family traditions growing up.

I decided to do a step by step, in case someone wants to make their own. I think ours is definitely geared towards little ones. Small children or toddlers who may or may not yet understand the meaning of Christmas, but are small minds ready and willing to be molded. A great time to start teaching by example and forming great traditions for years to come!

Without further ado, here’s a tutorial for you! My very first ever DIY post on the interwebs!

Optional: All the cards and numbers I used in ours are here. Feel free to use them, though they are geared toward our location and our family specifically, most of them can be used for just about anyone.

What You Need: Scrapbook paper (8X8), ribbons, craft scissors, regular scissors, self laminating pouches, hole punch, tape/glue stick

Step 1:

IMG_2799I got some funky and pretty scrapbook paper that I wanted to turn into paper envelopes. I am working with a toddler here, so no need to get fancy with my envelopes. This was the simplest envelope tutorial I could find. And while they weren’t all uniform, it doesn’t matter, she’s not even two yet.

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Pick out the design you want

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Turn it design face down and at a diagonal angle.

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Fold the two corners in – so that they meet in the middle and tape the intersection.

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Fold the bottom section up to the intersection in the middle and tape both sides down.

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Fold the top section down to the middle intersection and crease the paper, but do not tape.

Make 24 little envelopes like this. You can use all the same colors or a color scheme. I just liked the random and the pretty.

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Step 2:

Cut out your numbers. I used fun craft scissors to spice up the edges, you can cut straight edges as well. Totally up to you. You can also simply write the numbers on the outside of the envelopes if you don’t want to download the numbers.

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Step 3:

Attach the number to the outside of the envelope. Make sure you tape it down or glue it down really well. Leave top flap open.

IMG_2809Step 4:

You can write your own activities, get on the computer and make up some cute cards like the ones in the download link or you can use the ones I have made and used. If you opt to make your own, I used a 4X2 dimension and that made it easy to fit in the envelopes. Either way, cut them out and get them ready to go.

IMG_2811Step 5:

You also don’t have to laminate, but since I’m working with a toddler, I really wanted a way to make the cards durable. So, I laminated and cut them out. TIP: If you haven’t ever used the self laminating pouches, make sure you leave room on either side of your card so you can cut them out. Also, don’t cut at the edge of the card, leave a small amount of laminate around the edges otherwise the backs will fall off!

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Step 6:

Put your cards in the envelopes. I tried to decide which day of the week and the dates of things. I wanted to make sure if we were going out somewhere, it was mostly on the weekend or if it was a night I had to work, we would be staying home to do things. Strategies are key in my life, I would assume for anyone with a toddler, the same would be the case. Anyway, my cards went into their envelope homes with very much planning behind it.

IMG_2813Step 7:

Hole punch a corner of the envelope. Be careful not to hole punch with the numbers upside down or hole punch through your cute little card.

IMG_2814Step 8:

String the envelopes onto a pretty ribbon. I just used a sparkly silver ribbon I had in my craft/party planning supplies. Nothing too fancy. I chose to string it from 24 down to 1, because I intended Punky to pull from the bottom. Make sure you decide which end you want to start on and work backwards when you string the envelopes.

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Tada! Beautiful, cheap and toddler proof countdown to Christmas. I plan to add a few little chocolate or candy treats in some of the envelopes, small toys and surprises as well. I know a laminated card with words on it, will not hold her attention, but if she gets a treat or a present every day, she is sure to be excited about her first ever Christmas Countdown Calendar.

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I hope to make it more festive in this corner later in the week!

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I’m pretty excited to see her open her first card. I hope doing things like this will instill in her the magic and the excitement kids have for Christmas. You know, some people don’t want to “lie to their kids” about Christmas and allow their children to believe in imaginary people (don’t get me started on the Christian reason for the season), but I say, why invite the stress and the worry. I love the idea of giving my kid an imaginative and magical holiday.

And what better way to do that than to spend time doing something fun and geared towards Christmas every day of December leading up to the holiday!

Teaching Through Examples During the Christmas Season

Punky and I were asked a young man outside of Walmart to donate to needy children. I asked if he was affiliated with the Salvation Army. He said yes. I told him “No thank you. We would rather not donate to anyone affiliated with an organization who chose who was needy and who wasn’t. I advised him we would stick with non-discriminatory charities.” I don’t think he was pleased with my answer, as I caught him whispering about me as I put Punky in the cart.

Frankly. I don’t care.

After the last few years, I have read nothing but terrible things about how they treat human beings of gay  and lesbian orientation. I am not okay with supporting them. I don’t begrudge those who do support them and on the surface, they are very caring and they seem to be doing good. But, I will stand up for my family and I will teach my daughter that it’s not okay to say you are a Christian and then pick and choose who you will be helping during the holidays. 

Walmart has an “Angel Tree” and I haven’t heard of anything negative about their tree – so we donate a toy to a needy child in that way. I feel sorry for the children who are being ‘helped’ by the Salvation Army, because they are likely also being brainwashed to think the way this organization does about people.

I won’t allow my daughter to be raised that way. I will not allow her to think that it’s an okay to treat human beings, regardless of their beliefs, wealth, orientation, social status or other labels. People are people. We are all made from the same stuff. We are all created in the same way.

Whether you believe in God or not, which of course, I don’t, in the end of the day, being a Christian is to be like Jesus. Jesus was kind and giving to all those people around him. The needy, the sick, the sinners. This organization claims to be Christian, they claim to be affiliated with the religious church and stand behind the testaments of the ‘Lord”. At the end of the day, they don’t. They don’t come close to showing people what Jesus was really about. They don’t live in the image of their maker or teach the principles that Jesus preached.

They follow, but they do not live by example.

Anyway, enough of my rant. Punky and I went into Walmart and I am beginning to really notice that Punky is really not okay with Santa Claus. The elderly gentleman at the door offered her a Santa sticker, she loves stickers, she flatly told him no. She shook her head when I told her that she could have a sticker on her hand, and again said No.

It’s probably because when she was 9 months old, I plopped her down on Santa’s lap and snapped some pictures. She was pissed.

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So, she probably has some form of baby PTSD when it comes to Santa Claus. We have a book to introduce her to Santa now that she is older and enough to maybe appreciate the spirit and the magic of Christmas. When we say “That’s Santa!” and make a happy time of it, she promptly shuts the book and says “No”.

So, imagine my surprise when the guy on the intercom at Walmart said that Santa was in the garden center and you could stop by and see him. Get a picture with him even. So, of course, I said, “You wanna go see Santa?”

“No.”

“You wanna just go look at him?”

“No.”

“Well, let’s go just watch the other kids and if you want to sit with him you can.” I said. I wheeled the cart to the garden center.

The Santa was sitting on a bench, so she wouldn’t have had to sit on him lap, but when I pulled her out of the cart – she stood right next to me. She watched several kids sit up there with him and he said hi to her and blew her kisses. She wasn’t having it.

In the end, she did say “Bye Bye” and waves to him as we headed home.

I guess that’s a start!

So, since Punky is a little older and is getting to understand things more. I have decided to make an Advent Calendar for Christmas. What that really means, is we will be counting down to Christmas with Punky. I will be making one and we will get to do things with Punky as a family. Like going to Christmas in the Park to see the lights and baking cookies and decorating them together, like I did with my grandma when I was younger.

I’m pretty excited and I will likely post some picture of the advent calendar and the activities that we do with Punky this year. I’m pretty excited. I went to Walmart to get the stuff to make the Advent calendar envelopes and get started making the awesomeness.

We went to a new park that just opened up in the neighborhood and played a little bit. It’s been a while since Punky and I have been out together and I wanted to get her out of the house and spend some time with her. So after Walmart, we headed to the park. She had a blast.

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Also, not sure if anyone else has seen this on Pinterest, but I got this idea from there, and it seems to be working. When I get Punky out of the car, if I need to gather things from the car still or out of the trunk, I ask her to put hand on the “Space Place”. Which is really just the gas door on the car. But, she’s so interested in putting her hands on the car that she isn’t running off into the road or parking lot.

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