It’s the beginning of December and that means it’s time to break out the ADVENT calendar! This lovely custom of counting down the days til Christmas began in Germany—with the very first known “Advents Kalender” being produced in Hamburg in 1902 or 1903.
The traditional calendar consists of a lovely holiday image that has twenty-four little numbered doors. Children open up one door each day of December, counting down the days remaining until Christmas Eve. The final door, “24″, is always bigger than the rest and has the best picture inside!
This was one of my favorite family traditions. Every year my mother would bring out an Advents Kalender for me and my brother. (I think we each had our own, but I’m not quite sure!) It was something I totally looked forward to each year. I have to admit, I’m kind of a purist and I don’t really like those new calendars that have chocolates in them…nevermind the fact that the chocolate doesn’t really taste that great, there isn’t as much charm and mystery. You know every day is going to have the same piece of chocolate. The traditional calendars simply featured with a new picture behind every door, which I love! This was what mine looked like growing up:
image: jany schindler
What I love about the classic calendar is that you really have to search for the numbers…it’s like a little puzzle. And I love the simplicity of finding a sweet image inside.
That being said, I think there are some REALLY cool new calendars out there that would be super fun for any kiddo. For example, check out this amazing Lundby Advent Calendar that hides a little doll house treat behind each door. WOW! It was made in 2007, but you can still track them down here and there.
My sweet friend Teri made these cool push me/pull me Advent cards last year with her girls:
image: giddy giddy
My other fabulous friend Pilgrim (I really do have the most creative friends!) has a great template for making your own DIY match box advent calendar. I’ll be posting it on the Link Hootenanny later this afternoon, but here is a little sneak peek:
image: draw! pilgrim
And then there these garland calendars, which are really fun too:
image: house of giggles
So I know I said I prefer the simplicity of the older versions, but I’m going to contradict myself with these last two. Among the newer advent calendars that I find very charming (especially for little boys!) are the Lego Advent Calendar and the Playmobil Advent calendar
. We bought Wolfie the Lego Advent Calendar 2 years ago and he LOVES it. Each day you open up your window and get a special little Lego set to build and add to a “scene”. When you’re done you have a fun themed holiday or winter scene.
Now, keep in mind the Legos “sets” each day are rather small. Some are very cool like building a Lego snowman….others are very simple like a street sign. But I don’t mind this. I think it’s important that kiddos today learn PATIENCE and that not everything is NOW! BIG! HUGE! Over all these are really great. They have different options and they can be pricey (people collect them), but I found this Lego Advent Calendar that happens to be on sale. Whoo hoo! Oh, and of course you can re-use it every year.
There is also a really darling Playmobil Advent Calendar, which has super sweet little characters too.
I was lucky to find one of these at the thrift store and we’re setting it up tonight! We might even get a little crazy and bust out the Lego one too.
If you celebrate Christmas, do you have an Advent calendar to count down the holidays at your house? What are some of your favorite traditions from your childhood? I’d love to hear!