Last year I found the cutest Christmas Countdown house at Michaels for 85% off and snatched it up right away! I loved the idea of stuffing the little drawers for the kids to open the next morning and couldn’t wait to get home and get it going.
I thought I could wing it and just plan stuff the night before. But what that lead to most often were empty drawers in the morning or hastily scrawled notes with some random thing I could find around the house. It wasn’t al, that impressive or special to the kids.
This year I wanted to have it be a special part of Christmas, something they could really get into. But then coming up with a plan was hard! Really hard! I wanted it to be fun, but I wanted to tie in the Light the World initiative from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, coordinate with what our family had going on, and to be meaningful to the kids.
That’s a lot to coordinate! My brain just couldn’t do it. So finally I had to get an excel sheet put together and it fell in place! Made my nerd heart happy. I’m pretty excited for what we’ve got going on and planned for this and wanted to share what we’re doing and how we’re approaching a meaningful Christmas this year.
The Light the World initiative is all about spreading the light and love of Jesus Christ by serving and loving those around you. They have December divided up into four weeks, one for lighting the world, one for lighting your community, one for lighting your family, and one for lighting your faith (you can get the calendar here!). I ldefinitely wanted to get in as much service that we could do as a family that tied into each week’s theme.
I love the focus on Christ and when I watched a video that Kendra, of Catholic All Year, did about their Straw for Baby Jesus during Advent, I knew that this idea would pair up amazingly with Light the World and be just the thing to do with our kids. So I borrowed the idea and we’re incorporating it into our Christmas for the first time this year! We wanted the kids to connect that loving others is one way we can show Christ our love for Him, and this teaches that in such a great way.
Every night we gather as a family and talk about the day and the good things we saw each other do, how they served people, and how they made good choices. For each of those actions we talk about they get to then put some “straw” (cut up yarn…I had a nice straw tan yarn on hand, so we used that) into the “manger” (we have a little rectangle basket on hand that we’re using this year). Every day they get to see how the yarn is building up to make a soft place so that on Christmas Eve we can put Baby Jesus into a nice soft bed and not a hard empty manger.
The kids latched onto this immediately! Darrow especially! Every time he is obedient when he normally would fuss at me he says, “Mom! I’m choosing to be nice so we can put more hay in the manger for Jesus!” I think he gets it!
So to coordinate that in with the countdown house, I wanted to plan things they could do to help, and treats they could get that went towards that (along with a few treats that were just for fun for them because it’s Christmas time). I tried to coordinate those with the planned daily service and weekly theme, along with what we were doing that day just in “regular life” (eye appointments, church services, school, weddings, etc.).
Things like a little activity book to do in the car on the way to the eye appointment. Christmas cupcake liners for making mini muffins for breakfast. Plate decorating supplies for taking goodies to the neighbor. A snowglobe because they are fun and I found good ones at Dollar Tree! (Most of my countdown goodies I got there…made for good treats for very little).
But, like I said, that took A LOT of coordinating! And so I made a spreadsheet that lined it all out and it made it SO much easier to see what was going on and to plan. Even though it’s a few days into December already, if you’re trying to figure something like this out at all or want some ideas, you can see/download the free spreadsheet by clicking here!!
And you don’t have to have excel or even know how to use it fully, I’ve got this made in Google Sheets and to give you ideas it’s all filled in with the week themes along with ideas and examples!
I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but we’re sure going to give it our best! I have an alarm set on my phone so that every night it reminds me to put out the next day’s treats (if a treat is too big for the little drawer, like a book for example, the note usually tells them to go look under the tree or on the table or wherever it is hidden), so that I don’t forget!
What do you do to add meaning to the Christmas season?