The dark depths of Winter are a magical time, whatever holiday/s you celebrate in your home, and an activity advent calendar is my favorite way to get the most out of that magic.
In the same vein as my Samhain/ Halloween advent calendar, here are 25 Self-, Spirit-, and Earth-centered activities that could be used to count down the days to Hanukkah, the Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa (in chronological order) or any of the many festivals of light that occur at this time around the world.
I made this sweet little advent tree when my daughter was small and love it dearly even though I've never quite gotten around to finishing it! It's made from matchboxes glued together and wrapped in pretty paper and the levels are not attached to each other except for the top two- when we fly to grandma and grandpa's house a few days before Christmas, we just take the top level with us.
It's a cute alternative to the 'clothesline' style advent calendars with little bags or envelopes which I've found can be harder to find a good place for in small spaces.
But I think we all know that it's what's inside the advent calendar that really matters. And so here are 30 nature-based ideas that reinforce the slowing, inward-turning qualities of Winter
and add spirit to your month (I also noted a few that can be used more than once throughout the month- especially for days or weeks when you know you'll need to take it easy).
30 Nature-Based Winter Advent Ideas:
1 make lanterns
2 make rolled or dipped candles
3 make night animal ornaments or figurines
4 pick out a tree or wreath
5 be a holiday fairy and secretly leave gifts or do good deeds for friends and relatives
6 feed the animals- decorate trees outside
7 read favorite holiday stories (repeat as often as needed!)
8 draw or paint holiday cards
9 pick one kind of gift to make and then make enough for everyone you know!
10 collect donations for people who might be cold or hungry
11 learn about the solstice traditions of another continent (repeat!)
12 watch favorite holiday movies (repeat!)
13 send cheery cards or videos to the residents of nursing homes
14 make a cranberry and popcorn garland
15 make holders for your candles out of salt dough or air-dry clay
16 if it gets cold enough where you live, make ice lanterns
17 pick a tree to get to know and take care of all through the coming year
18 make a moon calendar for the coming year
19 start a wishing tree in your neighborhood where people can write their wishes on large gift tags and hang them on the branches
20 make elderberry syrup and/or fire cider for winter coughs and colds
21 ask an elder how they celebrated Winter when they were your age (repeat!)
22 wrap gifts without buying anything! use fabric or grocery bags, then decorate!
23 pack a thermos of hot cocoa and head out for a nature walk in the dark- what are the animals up to? Can you find any signs of winter hideouts? (Please do not disturb the animals, of course : )
24 learn about what the animals in your area do for Winter. Do any hibernate? Where?
25 prank call friends, family, even local businesses and sing holiday songs
26 weave bright Ojo stars- tiny ones from toothpicks, giant ones from sticks or in-between ones on coffee stirrers or popsicle sticks
27 make a Winter crown out of natural materials that you find on the ground or ethically forage (make sure you don't take anything the animals need for winter food!)
28 cut out a gazillion paper snowflakes
29 put a peppermint stick into an orange and suck until it becomes a straw
30 make a special holiday dish or treat that is traditional in your family. Write out the recipe (it's very fun to have small kids do this from memory- especially the measurements they give and their description of the process) and share with friends and family.
My daughter usually gets a new pair of pajamas on one of her advent days (the note that day will be a riddle telling her where to find them) and we also celebrate Santa Lucia day on the 13th (because it's a holiday where she brings me breakfast in bed- how could I pass that up??).
I hope you and yours have a lovely season.