Weekend Creative | Advent Action Cards

I'm a big fan of Advent calendars.

Many of you have seen the Advent boxes I made back in 2007 (inspired by Martha). I'm currently looking for new place to hang them in our house. Last year we also had a LEGO® City Advent Calendarbecause they are just super fun for each morning. This year we're going to have both again + a little something else.

The little something else for 2010 are hand-drawn Advent cards with specific actions to be taken each day.

Here's a video that shows you what I did and talks a bit more about the project.

Ali Edwards | Advent Action Cards from Ali Edwards on Vimeo.

Here's the how-to for this project:

ENCOURAGING OUR KIDS TO LOOK BEYOND THEMSELVES

For each of the daily sentiments I wanted to head in the direction of answering this question: what things that can help our kids look beyond themselves and celebrate the season. That was my initial focus.

I want words that require action. I want activities that are developmentally appropriate. I want things that are fun. I want activities that invoke the spirit of the season. I also want to include a few fun traditions like looking at lights while drinking hot cocoa, getting our tree and visiting Santa.

I like the idea that these cards can act as a road map for the season. I like that each day Simon (with a little help from Anna) can pick out a card and it can steer us in a specific direction for the afternoon or evening.

Here's what I've come up with so far (I'd love to read your suggestions and ideas in the comments section):


  1. Tell a friend at school you think they're really cool.
  2. Take a special treat to a neighbor.
  3. Pick a name from the giving tree. Find a gift for that person.
  4. Make a small stocking. Drop it off on someone's door as a surprise.
  5. Make a card for a loved one and send it in the mail.
  6. Recycle some toys to share with others.
  7. Read a Christmas book to your sister.
  8. Light a candle and say a prayer for a loved one far away.
  9. Take food to a local food pantry.
  10. Take a trip to get the Christmas Tree.
  11. Go see Santa.
  12. Go look at Christmas lights & drink hot cocoa.
  13. Make thank you notes before they are needed.
  14. Write a list of 10 things you are thankful for this year. Share with your Grandma

ANOTHER COOL IDEA

Doris, one of the super creative members of the Designer Digitals team, used the PNG files on top of photos to create this set of Advent cards that she'll be hanging on some branches in her home. She originally emailed asking me to make some more hand-drawn Christmas boxes where the words were farther down on the box - leaving room for a cute face. Thanks for the inspiration Doris!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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145 thoughts

  1. zewa says…
    11/05/2010

    Take your sister by the hand and make snow angels :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Saire says…
    11/05/2010

    Fantabulous project! Looks like it's not too time consuming for Mom to make, but big payoff for family getting into the spirit of Christmas.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      That was my goal :)

  3. peanut says…
    11/05/2010

    I love this :)

    I have a quilted advent calendar with little pocked that I use every year. I usually fill it with little pieces of paper with activities on them (usually planned out so the big things fall on weekends); stuff like "eat a Christmas orange" or "decorate" or "drive around and look at lights". These cards will be so much cuter than my bits of paper (and I'm doing the December daily project too so they'll have somewhere to go after the holidays).

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. bdaiss says…
    11/05/2010

    I started doing this last year and I'm SO looking forward to it again this year! My son had a blast opening the doors and finding out what our activity for the day was. (It's going to be tougher this year since I'm back at work and not on maternity leave!)

    Other ideas that we did: write a letter to Santa, put on Christmas music and dance, watch a favorite holiday movie (Grinch, Rudolf, Merry Madagascar), make yule kag with grandma (a holiday tradition from my childhood - you could substitute cookies or some other favorite holiday desert), make paper snowflakes, go sledding, drive around to see the Christmas Lights, and have a picnic under the Christmas tree. Some other things from my childhood that I included: putting the wooden shoes out for Sinterklaas, and reading Santa Mouse. We also rode the Polar Express - I think that one was the favorite of the whole month.

    I'm hoping to combine this with your December Daily this year!

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. mandee mattioli says…
      11/06/2010

      Oh, I love the picnic under the christmas tree! I am so adding that into our bunch!

    2. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      A picnic under the tree is a FABULOUS idea!

  5. Laura says…
    11/05/2010

    I love this and will incorporate it into our advent calendar. I like to do a mix of fun things (holiday shirts, ornaments, etc) and experiences. Here are some ideas from our family (kids 9, 7 and 4):

    1. Decorate a gingerbread house.
    2. Have a Christmas tree camp out -- sleeping around the Christmas tree.
    3. Watch a holiday movie together.
    4. Attend programs at library and local nature center
    5. Shop for adopted family.
    6. Craft basket -- goodies for making paper chains, pom-pom garlands, noodle garlands.
    7. Plant paperwhites (do early so they are blooming for Christmas).
    8. Make gifts for the birds.
    9. Family game night -- get a new game.
    10. Fondue night.
    11.Attend holiday concert or play.
    12. Make ornaments.
    13. Make gifts for teachers.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Maria says…
    11/06/2010

    I love your post and your Advent Action Cards idea! Some of the things we like to do at Christmas include decorating a gingerbread house, watch the Christmas parade with the family, listening to our favorite holiday music, make and send cards, make crafts, watch our favorite old-time Christmas movies with the family, and in the spirit of giving, it it is always fun to make and deliver/mail holiday cards and gifts to either hospitals, or homeless shelters.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. ali gitt says…
    11/06/2010

    Cute ideas...love the boxed Advent calendar.

    Ideas of things I did growing up or just thought of...
    1. Build snowmen in front of a Senior Center
    2. Go Carrolling
    3. Buy your pet a special holiday treat or take to the dog park.
    4. Collect all your can tabs and donate to Ronald McDonald House.
    5. Create art/craft bags for kids in hospital for the holidays.
    6. Mail unused xmas cards to St Jude's Ranch for them to use in their Recycled Card Program.
    7. Make Snow Angels and then enjoy snow ice cream.
    8. Celebrate another religious or cultural holiday by trying new foods, learning about Hannakkah, etc.

    Have fun.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Theresa says…
    11/06/2010

    So YOU bought those vintage milk caps from Banana Fish Studio--LOL. I had my eye on those but didn't act quickly enough and they were gone . . . and no more have been listed since :-( What an awesome project to use them with. Love it.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      You should email her and see if she's making any more. Love them - great little addition.

  9. Kaylea says…
    11/06/2010

    I just compiled a story like this - for the church (Children's ministry) Advent Guide for this year (Advent starts on Nov. 29 - the Sunday after Thanksgiving - AND for a project for the Dec DST insider.

    Obviously, we're thinking alike!
    K

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      Tis the season! I'd love to read what you wrote :).

  10. Linda says…
    11/06/2010

    i'm having a really difficult time finding a good self healing cutting mat that doesn't leave marks after cutting. which cutting mat do you use?

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      Hi Linda - the one you see in the video and photos is from this site: http://www.cutting-mats.net/self-healing-cutting-mats.html. I ordered a custom size one to fit on top of my table.

  11. barbi defazio says…
    11/06/2010

    I adore this project! Thanks for sharing. Our family will be using this idea with our traditional advent calendar.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Heidi says…
    11/06/2010

    Lots of great stuff above (love the picnic under the tree idea and making a card for military or service personnel etc) - I haven't even been thru all of them. Was just thinking that this year I may have our children pick a name from a tree or one of those type of ideas and contribute $ from their "giving" savings/piggy bank toward the selection & purchase of the gift (and time to wrap etc). I'm into giving heart stuff whether it is in the form of time, talent or blessings (and I include $ in this, regardless of the amount). Can't wait to read the rest of the ideas. Heidi
    PS Love the boxes. Love Doris' idea w/ photos on one side. Love me envisioning a few lovely branches from trees stuck in a big pot filled with pine cones or rocks or something and sitting in our home with potentially painted branches and these hanging on it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Sylvia says…
    11/06/2010

    Such an inspiring video. Thanks so much, I will definitaly do this!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Shelly K says…
    11/06/2010

    SUPER CUTE idea!! LOVE it and will be adapting for our family!!! Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Shelly K says…
    11/06/2010

    Visit a Senior Home with small bottles of hand lotion to give as gifts. The elderly love to see the kids!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. roni hunt says…
    11/06/2010

    I love this!!!! Although my children are grown and moms themselves, we continue the Advent caledar with our grandchildren at Beedee & Papa's (that's us). We'll add: make a special card for their teachers; walk the neighbor's dog so she does not need to go out in the cold; take grandma-mary for a walk and look at holiday lights; and these types of things. We live in Florida and can do many service projects together. Love the inspiration once again, Ali!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. {vicki} says…
    11/06/2010

    What about Bake Cookies!!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Amy says…
    11/06/2010

    Awesome idea Ali!! And great video tutorial!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Sarah K says…
    11/06/2010

    Bring a plate of goodies to your local fire station or police station with a thank you note. Also, most of them are doing toy drives so maybe a gift for their giving tree.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/06/2010

      That's a great addition - I can see Simon getting into that one.

  20. Erin says…
    11/06/2010

    We have several family traditions, but one that has become a favorite over the past several years. Quite a few years ago, I was talking with some military personnel and they had mentioned that most deployed soldiers never receive anything from home. That comment saddened me and so when Christmastime came around, our family went and picked out 5 Santa hats and filled them with all kinds of goodies and shipped them overseas. (A few times we have received a thank you note back from the soldier and a couple included a picture of themselves wearing the hat--so much fun.) We will definately be doing this again this year, but will be sending 7 since I have two brothers who are deployed this holiday season. Thanks, Ali, for the inspiration to get started already. Have a great weekend.

    Reply 6 Replies
    1. mandee mattioli says…
      11/06/2010

      Love this idea too. Where did you find names/addresses to send them to?

    2. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      I'd like more info on this too Erin -

    3. Lisa says…
      11/15/2010

      I'd love information on how to send this to them. I have a girl scout troop and this is something they would love to do.

    4. Barbara says…
      11/16/2010

      Your local base chaplain's office should be able to help you.

    5. D&Smum says…
      11/27/2010

      If any of you are interested in working for a service project that touches the lives of our soldiers, please check out Project Rudolph (I'll attach the link). The group still needs thousands of handwritten cards from adults to place in the Christmas bags they hand to soldiers en route to war during the month of December.
      http://projectrudolph.org/index.html

    6. Amy says…
      11/27/2010

      Hi ladies- If you visit "Adopt a Platoon", they're a wonderful non-profit that will work to match you with either a soldier to support monthly or a one time assistance for the holidays, or other campaign- they run them all the time. I've sent school supplies to a base working to improve relations by offering them to the children, DVDs to troops and the Stockings from Santa of course. Last year, my church sent over 86 stockings and we always have at least one soldier to support year-round when my husband is home. There are security reasons why they can't just post names/locations of troops seeking support, but they can provide you information if you request it. Thank you for remembering our military!

  21. Linda says…
    11/06/2010

    I love these ideas, since this is the first year that not all of my kids will be home for Christmas (DD moved to Boston with Hubby to be a resident--and new residents NEVER get Christmas off) I think the idea of making them with pictures of my girls over the years would be great. May make me cry but will probably do that anyways!

    The servicemen cards are a great idea too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Rebekah Pontow says…
    11/06/2010

    I love this so much! I have never done Advent calandar and will attempt to make one this year just because this is exactly what I needed to bring the true meaning of christmas into our home.

    Some idea I got from reading your article and the comments
    - read bible passage related to the birth of Jesus
    - Do a gift exchange game with friends (a game where you all bring a gift under $10-20 and then hand out numbers. 1-10, number 1 starts, and as the game progress you can take the opened gifts or open a wrapped gift) So much fun, we do it every year with my husband's family.
    -Visit a church you do not usually attend
    -watch Charlie Brown Christmas
    -Read about other December holiadys (Haunakah, Kwankah)
    -Make a ginger bread house
    -Take dozens of cookies to a local retirement community
    -Create a Christmas tree out of legos

    Love your ideas Ali, you are always so inspiring!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Kerry says…
    11/06/2010

    These are great ideas, and I love the twist to the advent calender! Will be doing something along this line I think this year! x

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Patricia says…
    11/06/2010

    Love your ideas ~ thanks for sharing! I read through most (but not all!) of the other ideas and they are all terrific. One thing we do is a prayer walk around our neighborhood. It's such a honor and a blessing to pray for those around us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Cathy says…
    11/06/2010

    I was just talking to my kids tonight about how they have so much to be thankful for...and how there are sooo many children who are less fortunate. I think this would be perfect for them!! Some ideas that I have are...visiting a nursing home and sing Christmas caroles, have a bake sale or garage sale and donate the money to ASPCA or your local shelter, donate out grown clothes and jackets to a local foster home or orphange. I can't wait to get this started!! Thank you Ali....you are such an inspiration!!!

    Reply 0 Replies

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