We firmly believe that Magic can be found in the smallest moments, you don't need to fly to Lapland or recreate Santa's Grotto in elaborate Gingerbread to create festive memories to cherish (although the idea of flying to Lapland does sound amazing...!). So here are some of our ideas for a fun, gentle, low key countdown to Christmas with kids in tow just in case you are looking for some inspiration.
A few years ago I came across a super cute knitted advent bunting with 24 little stockings and I've only ever used it as a decoration before. This year I have put a little note in each of the stockings and on these I have written what we will be doing that day, as a little bit of Christmas magic.
For the past two nights we have looked at what is in the stocking for the next day, so that my little people go to bed excited for something they can look forward to tomorrow (and some of the activities are super basic but it turns out kids are often easily pleased with the small things). Now I know this sounds like an elaborate way of getting my kids to go to bed quickly and sleep through the night with the bribe of doing something Christmassy the next day - well that would be spot on! You do what you have to do!!
You can easily make a DIY advent bunting - a washing line with some little red pegs, 24 paper bags or even a simple jar that little hands can reach in and pick an activity out of.
Here are some of the activities in our stockings:
- Put the Christmas Tree up
- Make a star for the top of your Christmas tree
- Make some Christmas wrapping Paper (using hand prints/potato stamps)
- Go on a torch walk at night and find some Christmas lights
- Have hot chocolate and popcorn in front of a Christmas movie
- Have a picnic tea in the Living Room under the Christmas Tree
- Make marshmallow Snowmen and take them for a stomp in the woods (simply stick two marshmallows on a stick and a chocolate chip ever so slightly melted as buttons and eyes)
- Have a Christmas Kitchen Disco
- Make a den and read Christmas books
- Write a letter to someone we won't see at Christmas
- Fill a box with old toys and take them to a charity shop
- Bake a Christmas treat (cookies/fairy cakes)
- Make some Magic Reindeer Food (oats and seeds and glitter)
- Make paper chains (Make Your Own Paper Chains)
- Learn how other countries celebrate Christmas
- Visit a garden centre to see the Christmas Lights
- Breakfast in bed and cartoons
- Write our letters to Father Christmas
- Christmas Jumper Day
- Winter scavenger hunt in the woods/beach/park/garden
- Make a paper wreath and collect things to decorate it with on a walk...in my head it will look like this...
Which is utterly hilarious as I know the actual result will be wet and muddy and probably only end up half finished but it might encourage them to actually finish a walk!
Sadly most of the "usual" Christmas events are cancelled but there are still some wonderful things on for children and here are a few that I have found, please send any other suggestions/ideas as I'd love to find more:
Local to Sidmouth:
- We are visiting Santa at Bow Garden Centre
- I know lots of people are visiting the reindeer at Cotleigh Farm
- Bicton Botanical Gardens have a Father Christmas you can visit but for me it is too expensive to just see him from afar in a snow globe...?
- I have heard that the Christmas Lights at Stourhead (National Trust) are worth a trip but it does cost £19 per adult plus parking if you aren't a NT member so its quite pricey but I think we will go as Christmas Lights are a big thing for our kids this year!
- Picking a tree can be a magical experience and they have snow machine at Combe Garden Centre which adds even more excitement - they also have a direct line to Father Christmas who will record a private message for your kids - how cool!
- I love visiting the theatre, some of my favourite Christmas memories are trips to watch a show and can't wait to be able to take my kids again. In the meantime I have discovered Little Angel Theatre, they are bringing shows to little people through Zoom this Christmas and I have heard great things - tickets and more info can be found here
- We will be watching Mother Christmas (free but donations welcome and if you can please do support the Arts as this year has been really, really tough for this industry)
- This Snowy, Starry Night Christmas Art Workshop put on by Julie at Dot Kids looks like a fun family activity
- This Christmas the Scottish Ballet are bringing the magic of the theatre right into your home with their first feature film and again they are providing it free but I would really urge you to make a donation if you can (even just a few pounds) as so much work has gone into producing it - check it out here
I hope that helps with a little bit of Christmas inspiration...
Remember you don't have to do ALL the things, you don't have to bake ALL the Christmas treats, you don't have to do ALL the Christmas crafts. Its ok to get stressed and anxious about managing Christmas in the midst of an ever changing pandemic. It's ok to make time for yourself - in fact that's a necessity!! Some days will be magic, some days will be a disaster and some things you plan will end up nothing like the Hallmark moment you imagined. Don't forget Instagram lies!!
You are doing the very best that you can do and that is more than enough for your family.
Happy Advent all xxx