This will be the third year that I have created Advent Bags for the Jelly Babies. Unsure what to do with a box of pegs numbered 1 to 24 that I bought on a whim, I decided the easiest thing to do was to fill 24 paper sweetie bags with a festive treat and a Christmas activity. Little did I know that these advent bags would become a really important tradition in our little family.
Advent bags aren’t an excuse to completely over indulge my children, it is more about ensuring we slow down a little at Christmas and take time out to include the children in the Christmas preparations. This may sound contrived and slightly cheesy but I think in previous years I had focused so much on making Christmas day itself perfect that I had forgotten that children find as much enjoyment in the build up as they do in the day itself. If nothing else the treat hidden inside each bag works as a useful bribe during the hectic days in the run up to Christmas when the Jelly Babies are even more fraught than usual.
Each bag contains a small sweet treat that is associated with Christmas (chocolate coin, candy cane, foil wrapped christmas tree chocolate) a gift tag detailing an activity or event for the day ahead and a small cardboard house that together build a Christmas village. Some of the bags will contain something relating to the day’s activity. For example, the stamps to go on the Christmas cards, a pot of glitter glue, a cookie cutter or the tickets to the pantomime.
Last year it took less time than the time it took to drink a Gin and Tonic to put the bags together. Admittedly I had been collecting the bits and pieces to go in them over the previous week.
24 Advent Bag Activities Ideas
These are all activities I have included in the advent bags either last year or the year before. I will certainly include a lot of them again as they have become little traditions but I will be thinking of a few new ideas to ensure that the children are as excited to open the bags this year as they have been for the last two.
Unpack the Christmas Bags and put up the first of the decorations
Write and send your letter to Father Christmas
Post to Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ by the 6th of December to receive a reply from the big man himself.
Find a blanket, choose a cosy spot and settle down for some Christmas stories
Head to the park for hot chocolates overlooking the ice rink
Put the stamps on the envelopes, and head out to find a post box to post the Christmas Cards
This requires me to be organised but ensures that I get the dreaded job out of the way early in the month.
Head to your local Pantomime
Make some paper chains
The Jelly Babies were so excited last year they made them before breakfast. We used ready cut ones but they are super simple to make from scratch.
Today’s the day to shine like star as it’s your Nativity/Christmas Play
Make a wreath for the front door/bedroom door/window
To make a wreath like the one pictured below, simply cut out the middle of a paper plate and discard. Glue green tissue squares to the paper plate and add a few small red pom poms, foam stickers or dot with red paint. Tie some festive ribbon around the top and hang.
Choose the Christmas tree
We try to make this a memorable event by visiting a woodland to choose the tree. Last year we went with friends to an amazing place that had some beautiful reindeer grazing amongst the trees and a van serving bacon sandwiches so all members of the group were happy.
Decorate the tree
I have to surrender my Christmaszilla tendencies for this task and go with the flow. Christmas music is essential and a glass of mulled wine a bonus.
Head to the shops to choose a present for the Mayor’s toy appeal
This was one of the children’s favourite activities last year, once they had got over their initial disappointment that the money in the bags wasn’t for them to spend on themselves.
Pop on your warmest clothes and head out for a woodland walk to collect some of nature’s seasonal treasures to decorate the house
This is a chance for me to go and collect holly, ivy etc to decorate the house but by featuring it in the advent bags the Jelly Babies don’t think of it as a chore but as a fun activity.
Make the birds a Christmas treat
The very simple recipe can be found here https://thewobblyjelly.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/bird-seed-cookies/
Make a Christmas decoration
Kits are super cheap to purchase in pound stores/craft shop. The Wobbly Jelly will be featuring a few easy crafty ideas if the desire takes you.
Wait until it’s dark before heading out with glow sticks and torches for an evening stroll to look at all the seasonal lights and decorations
Popcorn at the ready, today’s the day to choose a festive film to watch together
Visit a Christmas Market
Make snowflakes to decorate the windows
If you have forgotten how, click the link for instructions and another fun snowman craft https://thewobblyjelly.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/do-you-want-to-build-a-snowman/)
Make some reindeer food ready to sprinkle on Christmas Eve
We used oats, coloured sugar, hundreds and thousands and some mini white chocolate stars (everything left over from that year’s birthday parties) and made the left overs into a sparkly porridge on Christmas morning.
Transform an old cardboard box into Santa’s Sleigh
I gave the Jelly Babies paint, tinsel, fairy lights and paper chains and left them to their own devices. This may have been an error.
Today’s the day to be extra good, get the stockings ready and set up a tray of treats for Father Christmas and his reindeer.
The look on the littlest Jelly Baby’s face was priceless when she saw the bags hanging from the stairs on the first day of advent.