Turn Your To-Do List Into an Advent Calendar

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Calendar
  • Small envelopes or small pieces of paper, rolled into scrolls
  • Ribbon
  • Hole puncher
  • Glitter pen or other decorations for the envelope
  • Hanging devices, such as ornament hooks or clothespins

What You Do:

  1. Start by making a family holiday to-do list -- replace appoinments, errands, and tasks with fun family activities and holiday traditions, such as donating toys to a local shelter, trimming the Christmas tree, making potato latkes, or watching "Rudolph" together.
  2. Ask your child to punch a hole in the top of small envelopes. You'll need one for each day from the beginning of the month until Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa; whichever holiday your family celebrates.
  3. Help your child thread a ribbon through each of these holes, and tie them in a knot. After each envelope that she threads, ask her to number the envelope. Kids have a mysterious attraction to glitter pens, so if you have one of those readily available, invite her to use it.
  4. While your child is working on hole punching, threading, and numbering, make a list of tasks that you need to take care by yourself before the holiday. Break down your holiday workload into a project a day. You might be surprised to see that  many of your tasks are things your child will probably be able to help with, such as certain holiday shopping, decorating the tree, polishing the menorah, and so on. It may be helpful to write the kid-friendly activities in one color, and the tasks that you must accomplish on your own, in a different color. Once you see how many overlap with your family to-do list, you might not feel so pressured, and may even look forward to tackling them!
  5. Write each family task on a small slip of paper that will fit inside the envelope. Stuff each envelope with a task.
  6. Once you've stuffed your envelopes with the to-do list items,  it's time to display them! Tape them to a wall or mantle, attach them to a calendar, or pin them to a bulletin board. The presentation options are endless!

Each day leading up to the holiday, invite your child to take an envelope off the calendar and read it aloud. Taking your tasks one day at a time means no last-minute running around, potentially saving you time and money, and, ideally, a stress-free holiday. Through this activity, your child will also begin to understand the importance seeing things through from start to finish.

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