Last year, Kristy, over at Waiting for Happy, wrote this post about her awesome advent calendar. I thought it was a great idea. Hmmm, a Christmas season focusing on others and Jesus rather than ourselves and materialism. What a concept. I loved her calendar and loved reading her December posts about how God was working through their advent activities. He was certainly faithful to show up and I thought, nay, vowed, that this year, since Jonah is old enough to start getting it, I would do something similar.
Thus, I commissioned my friend Jen to "help" me create an advent calendar. Our conversation went something along the lines of, "Hey crafty, ever-so-talented, knows-how-to-sew, beautiful Jen, wouldn't it be AWESOME if "we" made advent calendars for our boys by next December?" She was all like, "Yes! Love the idea." But I know she knew that she would be doing all the work and I would be a slackpot full of big ideas and no help. But I also think she liked that I called her beautiful.
I'd also like to say that IF SHE HADN'T UP AND MOVED TO TEXAS (stupid Texas), I would have totally helped her, but we all know that's probably not true. Seriously, I had to add the dowel bar and ribbon and about had a coronary.
And without further ado, I'd like to present to you, the beautiful, magnificent, awesome Advent Calendar, that Beautiful Jen made for our family.
I know, right?
Instead of trinkets or candy, each pocket holds an act of family togetherness or service to others. One a day for 25 days. We worked on the ideas together, but Jen then went back and added a verse to go with each activity. She's an overachiever like that. Did I mention she's beautiful?
I'll put our master list down below in case you are looking for some ideas for things you can do this season to serve others. Whether it's a calendar or something else you choose to do, I pray we can all focus on Christ and what He taught and represented and not get so caught up in the "gimmes". And remember, God will always be faithful to show up. Always.
- Set out the family nativity scene and read the beginning of the Christmas story from Luke.
- Make a snack together and have a family Christmas movie night.
- Make and deliver a baked good for someone who isn't around their family for the holidays
- Make dinner for a neighbor. Knock on their door and surprise them!
- Every member of the family find three things (toys, clothes, etc.) in good condition to give away
- Have a Skype date (with friends who may or may not have UP AND MOVED TO TEXAS).
- Visit a nursing home, maybe take cookies and sing carols
- Make handmade cards for your neighbors or loved ones you’ve lost contact with or shut-ins. Pray for them as you're making the card.
- Have breakfast for dinner. By candlelight?
- Put on a play of the Christmas story for Daddy and/or family and friends.
- Invite someone over for dinner and/or hot chocolate and dessert.
- Make a family traditional dessert and call the person you got the recipe from.
- Drive around to look at lights and pray for your city.
- Write a letter of encouragement/draw a picture for someone who may be having a particularly hard time this holiday season.
- Babysit for a single mom or a couple who really needs a night out.
- Discuss and start a family giving box. (http://www.familieswithpurpose.com/givingboxsuggestions.html)
- Pick up trash/clean up as a family at a local park or in your neighborhood.
- Make a donation (and take it in person!) to the Ronald McDonald house. Love on some hurting parents while you’re there.
- Fill a bag or backpack with basic hygiene goods and a few snacks and give it to a homeless person in your community.
- Go through your books and collect some to give to a reading program for needy children.
- Give some money (even if only $10) to someone in need. A neighbor, homeless person, or just a friend in need. Or pay for someone’s meal anonymously.
- Do a random act of kindness for someone you don’t know.
- Have a birthday party for Jesus.
- Send your used shoes to Reuse-A-Shoe. (http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/get-involved)
- Make scripture bookmarks. Hand them out at your local supermarket or book store as people come out. Or put on car windshields.
- Tell the story of St. Nicholas (or watch the Veggie Tales movie!)
- Recognize your church staff in a small, tangible way.
- Make crescent rolls for dinner. On a small sheet of paper, have each person write something they are thankful for about their family. Put it in the crescent roll before you bake it. Share with each other before you eat
- Leave a gift or sweet note in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
- Post something you no longer need/use on Craig’s List or Ebay. Let your child pick a charity they want, and donate the money.
- Write scripture or inspirational thoughts/quotes on post it notes. Randomly leave them places around your community where they will be found/on windshields of parked cars.
- Vow for one day to only say positive things. No negativity allowed.
- At the beginning of the month, start and post a “grateful” list. Everyone in the family can add to it all month long.
- Help an older person carry/load their groceries.
- Call a friend and ask them one thing you could do to help them out today.
- Donate your extra coats/blankets to a homeless shelter.
- Do a fun craft project together.
- Make some chicken soup and take to a friend, church member, or neighbor who is sick.
- Send flowers to your local NICU with a note thanking the nurses and doctors for all they do. (Or go tell them in person.)
- Find a way to cheer up someone who is hurting, even if it’s only a phone call.
- Have a Daddy-Son date or a Mommy-Son date, whichever is needed most at the time.
- Fulfill a wish on wishuponahero.com
Now you'll have to excuse me. I must go listen to Christmas music and decorate. The calendar deems it so. :) (And also, I'm going to make some chili because I just got a craving.)