Whilst Christmas is still some way off (thankfully), Advent is fast approaching.  This week I’ve spent the evenings cosily wrapping a myriad of tiny boxes with surprises, notes and treats for Harry to uncover through each day of December.  I’ll string them from an armful of silver-sprayed branches and position them in the hall where they can offer a tantalising reminder of the excitements to come.

For my advent boxes I’ve used a random collection of matchboxes, raisin packets (both full and empty), old jewellery boxes and others, and used  offcuts of white, red and brown paper to wrap them all with scraps of ribbon and silver thread – each one is different, but the repeating colour palette gives them a harmonious appearance when hung from the branches. I’ve used pretty buttons and embellishments extravagantly because I know I can just gather them up once discarded in the thrill of opening, and reuse again next year.

A number of the advent boxes contain chocolates, raisins or other sweet treats, but there are some surprises too; I found this tiny nativity set here, and have packaged each member up individually and spread them across the month, so that Harry can collect them all and we can tell him the Christmas story as we go… there are also a couple of decorations to hang on the tree as Christmas approaches.

With Harry’s birthday falling in early December, we’re anticipating something of a swelling of the toy cupboard next month, so one advent box provides a bag for him to carefully choose some toys he’s grown out of and no longer plays with that we can take to the local charity shop to be loved again by someone else – and to create some crucial space for new arrivals.  At risk of sounding pious, I want Harry to understand how lucky we are, and from the outset to see Christmas as a time of giving as well as receiving.

Harry’s advent calendar also marks a few of the events that we know will happen over the month; the nursery school nativity play falls in the middle of December, and Harry has been cast as Joseph (how my heart secretly swells with maternal pride!  Harry himself is a bit cross because he wanted to be a reindeer).  It’s the first time he’ll have performed in any kind of play or production, so feeling the safety of this ‘magic button’ in his pocket may help keep wobbles at bay when he sees us in the audience.

The most important box of all will be opened on Christmas Eve, and is immediately identifiable by its sparkly gold exterior.  Inside, Harry will find a tiny letter from the elves, sealed with a button, explaining all the things we need to do to prepare for Father Christmas’s arrival (carrots for Rudolph, stockings over the fireplace and a myriad of other anticipation-building activities..).  There are also a couple of little treats for the elves themselves; a tiny half walnut-shell bed, with a down feather to ensure the softest nap ever – because they must be exhausted at this point in the year, and everyone benefits from a power nap –  plus a few ‘elf donuts’; Cheerios sprinkled with powdered sugar (in case Harry is tempted to sample one himself).

If you fancy making one of these for the little (or not so little) people in your life, here’s a wee list of some of the other things in our boxes (just don’t tell Harry…)

  • Chocolate ‘gold’ coins and racing cars
  • Lego mini men
  • Raisins
  • A handful of ‘snowballs’ (white pompoms) to thread together
  • A few real coins for Harry’s moneybox
  • Paper chains to make to decorate the playroom

What Christmas traditions do you have for your children? It’s the first year that Harry is really, properly aware of Christmas and excited by it, so it feels like the first time we can start to create some family traditions and memories for him; all further inspiration welcomed please!

Have a wonderful weekend…

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