a peek inside the fishbowl

21 Nov, 2008

Twenty five days of Christmas: a challenge

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|File under crafty|Yaktivism


Ha. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? It isn’t meant to, really. This should not be overwhelming. It’s really just twenty five days of organized, customized fun. Are you up for it? I hope so. My kids loved this so much. I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s how it works:

1) Make a Family Activity Advent Calendar using some scrapbook paper, old Christmas cards or some jolly old wrapping paper. Scroll down this post for a free template and instructions.

Non-crafty types, don’t fear! Making these is much easier than you think.

2) Sit down with your agenda or family calendar (preferably in a quiet spot!) and flip forward to December. This is where the organizing part comes in. Figure out what holiday fun needs to get done and the best times to do it. For example, you probably need to get your Christmas tree, visit family, go to a party, decorate the house, bake cookies, wrap and deliver gifts for charity etc. 

Keep these few tips in mind:

  • These activities are supposed to be fun and family-oriented.
  • Consider leaving “shopping” off the list.
  • Do the bigger tasks early in the month (I learned this the hard way).
  • Mix it up with some cheap and kid-friendly fun activities: building a snowman, go stargazing, go sledding or skating, paint everyone’s toenails, go swimming, make paper snowflakes, make hot chocolate etc. (The post I mentioned lists everything we did.) 
  • And here’s the challenge part … take a photo of your advent activity every day (no matter what!) and post it to the Family Activity Advent Calendar (2008) Flickr group. That way we can all see what we’re doing. And if I’m the only one doing it, well, you’ll get to see what I’m doing. :)

I guess I’d better get started, huh? I can’t believe December is almost here already.


17 Responses to "Twenty five days of Christmas: a challenge"

1 | porter

November 21st, 2008 at 2:01 pm


I’m in! I made advent calendars for my girls already but I think this would be a fun thing to do together or secretly as a nice surprise! My kids (escpecially Mouse-she is by far the one who loves family activities the most..big or small). I have to think about posting pics though…

2 | Chantal

November 21st, 2008 at 2:44 pm


Oh I remember when you did this last year. And I told myself I would do it. So here goes!

3 | Soire

November 21st, 2008 at 8:21 pm


It sounds very fun. I might see about attempting a count down to solstice! :D

4 | scatteredmom

November 21st, 2008 at 11:31 pm


I’m having the worst time keeping up with my blog because real life is just too busy, but I’ll try!

5 | Mike Gifford

November 22nd, 2008 at 11:03 am


Ok, this is a good idea. How do you market it to the kids though who are expecting chocolate squares? Will you end up making envelopes every year? Kinda thinking the match boxes might be sturdier.

6 | andrea

November 22nd, 2008 at 11:57 am


Emma and Sarah don’t miss chocolate squares anymore, especially since one or two of our days are spent baking. It’s not a tough sell.

I’m debating whether or not to remake my envelopes this year. If you use paper with a bit of heft to it the envelopes will last. Scrapbooking paper is good for this reason… but match boxes would work too!

7 | Scattered Mom

November 22nd, 2008 at 2:08 pm


I actually made mini stockings that I hang around the house, or on the tree for the advent thing. They work really well and are sturdier then paper. I’ll put a link on my blog. :)

8 | scatteredmom

November 24th, 2008 at 1:14 am


Hey the only thing I’m wondering about is that I’m traveling to Calgary somewhere from the 20-25, so I probably won’t be able to post the pictures until after Christmas.

This could be a lot of fun! Thanks Andrea!

9 | J.

November 24th, 2008 at 10:40 am


I did something very similar with A. this year. We made an advent calender of things that we want to go together. We would write them as:

J. would like you to take her to Starbucks to have a Christmas latte.

We’ll see how it goes. Will post about it soon. :)

10 | Andrea

November 24th, 2008 at 2:44 pm


I am so in!

I remember when you did this last year and thought it was such a great idea. We’ve never done an Advent calendar of any kind and I’ve always wished I would get my act together and get going on one . . . this is the year it happens!!

Thank you for the inspiration, Andrea!

11 | ImogenSky

November 25th, 2008 at 1:53 pm


I just finished making the envelopes…so much fun! I’m in with you this year too :)

12 | On The First Day Of Christmas « TurtleHead

November 26th, 2008 at 9:14 am


[…] 26, 2008 Andrea at Quietfish is always doing something beautiful and crafty with her daughters. I read about these projects on her blog and I always think, “Oh, […]

14 | Ingrid98684

December 3rd, 2008 at 1:59 am


First activity on our advent calendar was making Christmas cards for family and friends. It ended up taking two days (I have a toddler and operate on toddler time). We actually made postcards rather than cards, as it seemed it would be easier for my toddler to work with a single piece of paper rather than a card format. And, since there’s less white space for me to fill with news, I may have a chance of actually getting them out the door before January rolls around! This was a LOT of fun and I can see this becoming an annual tradition.

15 | Pam

December 6th, 2008 at 2:17 am


Wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing your ideas and family activities. I too have accepted your challenge and look forward to enjoying my days to Christmas.

16 | Tangled Hill

December 12th, 2008 at 4:10 pm


We followed your tutorial and have been enjoying our holiday family activities all month! You can see our (somewhat modified) calendar at


17 | Christmas cheer « Simply Sonya

December 19th, 2008 at 11:39 am


[…] lucky I am. And I can’t wait until a few years from now when Joe and I can start our own family activity advent calendar like Andrea over at […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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