Fun Ways to Introduce Advent to Toddlers

I love Christmas & everything about it.  The Hallmark movies.  The lights.  Even the crowded checkout lines - I'm weird like that.  And I want to help my 2 year old love it all as much as I do - and it's not hard to really with all the music, presents, & reindeer everywhere we turn.  

But I want to be sure I am introducing the real reason for Christmas in an age appropriate way.  I've searched the internet high & low and decided on three different methods to start in the coming weeks to help keep our eyes & hearts focused on our Savior this season.


First up is the advent calendar from Sugar House Shop on Etsy that I introduced a few weeks back.  I've barely started constructing my nativity themed magnetic ornament advent calendar, but I know the last minute push will be worth it!  I loved opening the boxes in the single-use chocolate containing ones we begged for as kids - and hopefully this will help build up some excitement without the sugar rush!

Next is Truth in The Tinsel by Amanda White.  The blogger ohamanda developed this curriculum a few years ago & released an e-book full of coordinating scriptures, crafts, and even printable ornaments to decorate that you can adjust based on the age & interests of your kids.  I've tweaked her plan from a daily advent activity to something will keep the attention span of my little one can tolerate just a few times each week. I'll share my adjustments & activity ideas for a non-scissor using kiddo later this week - be on the lookout!

I'm pretty sure that our new Shepherd on the Search from Dayspring though is going to my daughter's favorite.  Clearly the 'Elf on the Shelf' idea has been a hit since it hit it big years ago. There are girl versions, boy versions, outfits to dress them in, and Pinterest pages full of creative things for him to do.  But you know what I don't want?  A kid who thinks a troublemaking elf is fun.  Or that she should copy his antics.  Nor do I want to scare my child into good behavior.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously, but my daughter doesn't miss anything.  And I don't want her to start dragging toilet paper through the house because an elf did.  The story that goes along with Dayspring's 'The Shepherd on The Search' is that the angels tell the shepherd of Jesus' birth & he sets off to find baby Jesus in the manger.  He can move around every day letting the kids find him - giving us the opportunity as parents to discuss where he's heading & why it matters after we find his hiding spot each day.  Then on Christmas morning, he wakes up in the manger scene that comes inside the box.

I love that this involves so little effort & planning each day...... plus there's no mom punishment if we forget to move the shepherd one day!  

Shepherd on the Search is $29.99 on Dayspring's website, and until 12/31 you can use the code SHINEHISLIGHT for $20 off of a $60 purchase  - and there are a ton of other amazing gift ideas to wrap up your shopping in one fell swoop! (Plus shipping is free over $50!).

There are a number of activities & resources Dayspring developed to go along with your advent celebration that you can find on their website here.   

From one busy mom to another - I hope at least one of these ideas is something you feel like you can try out with your own family this Christmas season!

* Some affiliate links are included in this post to help you head straight to the resources I've shared - I get a small fee for sharing these, but know I'm only sharing things I use & love!

Sugar House Shop - Best of Etsy 2016

Technically my October "Best of Etsy" series is over, but I can't help but share this shop because my excitement over starting my next project is overflowing!

The last month has been insane between blogging daily, regular life, & prepping to participate in my first local vintage maker market.  Let's just say I put too much on my plate and I knew it by October 2nd - but I don't quit!  

I found Sugar House Shop, via Instagram randomly in September & immediately went and bought her 'Star of Wonder' Advent calendar pattern.  Like immediately - because I'm a sucker for a DIY project.

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Our little one is just starting to grasp who Jesus is and I want to be sure we are having age appropriate conversations with her leading up to & explaining Christmas.  I'll share our new alternative-elf-on-the-shelf idea next week, but today I want to share the Nativity Advent calendar that we will use for years to come!

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

The directions are clear & illustrated so it's easy to follow for a beginner or expert sewer.  The base of the calendar can be machine sewn, but the individual pieces are hand sewn.  My favorite part of this is that the pieces are all magnetic!   I love this so much, it will be a highlight of our holiday decorating to make it front & center.

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

I'll be honest, the pattern is affordable, but buying all the supplies cost a bit more than I had anticipated.  I used the shops she suggested, mostly because I didn't have time to prance around town looking for all the supplies this month, which I'm sure would have cut my costs. Here's a visual of how it starts out on December 1st.....

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

I'm just so stinking excited to spend time crafting something that is educational, fun, and won't involve treats or candy to help walk us up to Christmas day, I could burst!  Bring on next week when I can get started!

There are lots of other countdown calendars in her shop for birthdays & even Halloween - I've read that the birthday ice-cream cone pattern is a great beginner pattern if the thought of basic sewing scares you!

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Jennifer from Sugar House Shop has offered a free heart cake topper pattern that you can try if you have fears of stitching  - you can get that pattern by clicking here.

You can also watch this video that highlights the making of these heirloom advent calendars - click here for that.

So put on your favorite Christmas music & sew with me friends!  Check out Sugar House Shop for all her felt countdown calendars.  Now, if only she'd create a Disney countdown you'd know I'd be first in line for that one!  Watch my Instagram account for updates on my progress next week once I get started!

'Twas The Night Before The Night Before Christmas

I feel like I'm being indoctrinated into the official parenting club this week.  AKA I'm staying up late putting together toys from "Santa".  Seriously big man, you could at least have Amazon deliver them in one piece.   

Tonight we went out for dinner since I'd spent all day in the kitchen prepping cookies and snacks for Christmas Eve at our house.  As dinner winded down we had hints that the little one might be close to a meltdown, but we decided we would brave a trip to Barnes and Noble for coffee and a few minutes to "relax" before heading back for present prep round 2. And then, of course, it was a full on fit. Two days before Christmas.  In a busy box store.  Yep - I was that person who got the stares tonight.

But you know what? I needed that caffeine and two minutes outside of my house not looking at all the things left to be done.

Friends - don't let the list of to-dos in the next 48 hours keep your focus from what's the most important.  

Family.  Loved ones. A God who loves us so much that He would send His Son into the world to be "born to raise the sons of men." I'm not going to lie - I used to always turn off the song 'O Holy Night' every time it came on the radio - all I could picture was a lady from church singing it opera style and I just can't get behind that. 

But this week I listened with fresh ears during a drive to work.  He was born to raise us from the dead when He comes again.  Such a lowly birth story for such a mighty God.  

Lets just say my perspective on getting that last batch of cookies made, the presents wrapped early, and having the house spotless doesn't matter.  Especially not if that's where my heart and focus lies.  

Dear friends I hope you have an incredibly amazing Christmas Day!  Next week I'll share a 2015 wrap up, our family theme for 2016, and reveal our IKEA DUKTIG play kitchen makeover! 

But for now I'll leave you with a glimpse of today's third annual family Christmas Caroling emoji style! 

Merry Christmas!