50 Activity Advent Calendar Ideas

Christmas is a time of year that my girls look forward to for months.  They get so enthusiastic about all things festive and one of the things that really ramps up their excitement levels is our modest little advent calendar, which of course appears on the 1st December.  Usually, there’s just a small chocolate in each pocket for them to have every morning but this year I decided to do something a little bit different – an activity advent calendar!

The run up to Christmas is always a busy time of year (global pandemic or not) and the overwhelm can feel very real.  It’s one of the reasons why I don’t do ‘Elf on the Shelf’ – I don’t think I could cope with having to come up with some new antic for it to do every night on top of all the present shopping, gift wrapping, card writing, food planning, life-and-kids-and-school admin plus my actual full time job.  I’m a little bit in awe of everyone who does invite the Elf into their home.  The creative things you all come up with are brilliant!

Making Christmas 2020 special

However, I did want to make the month extra special for the girls because, let’s face it, 2020 has been a rubbish year in so many ways and it’s been a tough first term back at school amidst the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.  Everyone has had to adapt to a ridiculous number of new and constantly changing rules, wearing masks, social distancing, staggered drop-off and pick-up times, self isolations, online learning and more.

I figured that if I could come up with a pre-planned list of activity advent calendar ideas and keep it as flexible as possible, it would be something we could all enjoy together without putting lots of extra pressure and work on me.  I wanted our activity advent calendar to be experiences for us to do as a family rather than things I would need to buy – a way of making memories together and maybe even creating some new traditions that might get passed down through the generations as the girls grow up and if they choose to have families of their own.

Cosy December days

Inspiration and Ideas

One evening in late November I sat down and brainstormed some ideas.  I didn’t quite have enough for all 24 days so I looked to Laura from Little Ladies Big World for some activity advent calendar inspiration, remembering that she shared her family list of activities on her blog last year.  She does so many wonderful things with her girls so I knew she would have some alternative ideas that I hadn’t thought of.  Katie Ellison also shares her family activity advent calendar suggestions in her Instagram stories throughout the month, so I picked out a couple from there too that I would never have thought of that I had an inkling the girls would really enjoy.

Of course every family is different and every child is different so what works for them might not work for us and what works for us might not work for you if you decide to give an activity advent calendar a try one year.  This list is by no means exhaustive and, if I’m honest, I’m partly writing it so that I can remember all the ideas myself for next year!

2020 has been a very different year for everyone around the world and there have been many experiences and activities that we’ve been unable to enjoy in the way we usually would because they’ve been cancelled or we’ve been isolating or tier restrictions have come into play.  We all feel sad about that, of course, especially as I think this year is likely to be the last year that Lola truly believes in the magic of it all (she’ll be at high school this time next year).  Despite the strangeness of it all, we’ve done our best to make it as joyful and fun as possible and hopefully 2021 will see us being able to put the things we missed out on this year back on our activity advent calendar list.

Activity Advent Calendar: The 2020 List

This is a list (in no particular order) of all of the activities I included in this year’s activity advent calendar.  When I put them in the pockets I tried to arrange them so that outdoorsy/late night activities were at the weekends or after the end of term during the Christmas holidays.  The simpler ones I kept for during the week so they could easily be done before or after school.

Sometimes they got swapped around (if I knew the weather was going to be rubbish or if we had to unexpectedly isolate for example) and if energy levels were low or someone wasn’t in the mood we just left it for that day and saved them up to do at a later date.  It worked quite well doing it like that as it meant we had a few extra bonus festive things to do in the week leading up to Christmas Day.  We didn’t manage to do them all in the end but actually, I’m ok with that.  We made plenty of memories, started some new traditions, rekindled some old ones, and that’s good enough for me.

1/  Go for a winter walk

We always go for a walk together on Christmas Eve (unless it’s pouring with rain). It’s usually just the girls and I as the husband is at work but because he’s currently furloughed he was able to come too this year!  We usually head for the woods near our home as there are lots of trails we can explore and it’s a good way to tire the girls out so the sleep better ahead of all the Christmas Day excitement the following morning.

Our annual Christmas Eve walk

2/ Decorate a gingerbread house

We’ve decorated a gingerbread house every year since the girls were tiny so this is a firm tradition that they love to do.  However it seemed that there was a UK-wide shortage of gingerbread houses this year as I couldn’t find a kit anywhere (and I’m not confident enough in my baking skills to have been able to make one from scratch!).  In the end I managed to find some gingerbread biscuits and I snagged the last two packs of writing icing on the supermarket shelves.

Thankfully they were a hit – the girls loved them!  We spent a morning in the holidays decorating (and eating) them and it’s definitely something we’ll do again, maybe even in addition to a gingerbread house if I can get hold of one next year.

Decorating gingerbread biscuits was a hit with the girls – they were so proud of their creations

3/ Christmas baking

We didn’t quite get round to making all of the yummy things I had planned: Christmas cookies; chocolate cupcakes decorated to look like Christmas puddings; ‘melted snowman’ biscuits that I saw on someone’s Instagram stories… but I guess there’s no reason why we can’t bake ‘Christmas’ things in January!  It’s an ideal wintery weekend activity.  Donna at What The Redhead Said has some brilliant Christmas fudge recipes that I’m putting on the list to try next year (the chocolate orange one sounds amazing) and apparently the 2020 trend was to make a Nutella and pastry Christmas tree so perhaps we’ll try that in our 2021 activity advent calendar too.

4/ Christmas lights walk

Once the girls are home from school during the winter months, we’re settled in for the night and rarely venture out in the evenings.  The girls are homebodies and would rather stay cosy indoors when it’s cold and dark outside.  So going out for a walk in the evening to see all the Christmas lights strung up along the high street and the giant Christmas tree in the town square (as well as all the decorated houses in the little section of our town where we live) felt like a bit of an adventure.

5/  Have a festive hot chocolate

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a festive hot chocolate and all the added extras: squirty cream; marshmallows; red, green & gold sprinkles and a dusting of cinnamon and chocolate powder!

Extra special hot chocolates for a cosy afternoon at home

6/ Christmas movie afternoon

Movie afternoons are always a hit in our house.  A pile of blankets, all the lights off except for the twinkles on the Christmas tree, a feel-good family film and bowls of sweets and popcorn make for the perfect, snuggly, rainy-day weekend (or Friday night after school) activity.  There seemed to be lots of new ones out this year as well as the annual must-watch favourites.  The girls opted for ‘Noelle’ as their movie of choice and we’ve still got ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ (parts 1 & 2), ‘Jingle Jangle’ and ‘Godmothered’ to watch as well.

7/ Make a Christmas crown

If I’m honest, this one was probably more for me than for the girls, though I thought they might enjoy joining in too.  I’ve wanted to make a wildflower crown for ages so thought I’d practice with a winter version made with leaves & berries foraged from the trail near our house.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Lola modelling the Christmas crown we made

8/ Watch messages from Father Christmas

Ever since they were small I’ve used Portable North Pole to create personalised video messages from Father Christmas for each of my girls.  Now that they’re older, they know that it’s not the real Santa (he’s far too busy getting everything ready for Christmas Eve) but they still ask every day throughout December if he’s sent the videos to me yet.

I have two non-believers in the house now but I think these little messages help to keep some of the magic alive for them – they secretly want to believe even if they can’t quite bring themselves to out loud.  I’ve only ever used the free videos but as PNP’s popularity has grown they’ve introduced various paid-for options that you can choose from which I understand are much more detailed and personalised.

9/ Family board game afternoon/night

Another great indoor activity that’s perfect for after school and which everyone can join in with.  We have a huge stack of games and puzzles – favourites include Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble, Bananagrams and Listography.

10/ Celebrate Ella’s birthday

We have a couple of festive birthdays to celebrate throughout December so of course they had to be included in our activity advent calendar on the appropriate days.  Presents, a cake with sparkler candles and suddenly we have a 14 year old in the house!

Celebrating Ella’s 14th birthday

11/ Track Santa’s journey

On Christmas Eve we always track Father Christmas’ journey through the NORAD website.  However, this year we discovered that there is a similar thing on Sky Q – you can either search by typing or say into the remote control “Where is Santa?” and up pops a Santa Tracker.  It works throughout December with a countdown to Christmas Eve (in days, hours, minutes and seconds) plus a description of what Santa is up to (eg: ‘preparing the presents’).  On Christmas Eve itself it switches to a map showing where in the world he is, how many presents he’s delivered, how far he’s travelled and where his next stop is.  It’s really fun (and informative) for kids of all ages – my three girls loved it!  I actually preferred it to the NORAD site as it seemed to be a bit easier to navigate and simpler to understand with a more child-friendly appearance.  I hope they do it again next year.

12/ Draw Christmas pictures on the windows

During the first lockdown I bought some chalk pens and we decorated every window in the house with messages and symbols of hope and thanks and positivity.  The girls really loved doing it and so I thought it would be fun to turn this into an activity advent calendar idea.  We’d planned to draw festive scenes and write Christmas messages but somehow this ended up being one of the activities we didn’t get round to doing.  We’ll definitely do it next year – I think it will add that little bit more joy and creativity to our home and it’s a really lovely, easy one to do on a rainy day or after school.

13/ Write Christmas cards

This one is probably best done towards the beginning of the activity advent calendar so you can be sure to get them written in time for the last posting dates before Christmas (and not leave them all until the last minute like I did this year!).  Lola is the only one who still writes a little card for everyone in her class at school, though this is the final year of that happening as next Christmas she’ll be in high school and it’ll only be her close circle of friends that she’ll do them for.  This year Ella and Mimi chose to make handmade cards for their friends which I think was lovely – they put so much care and attention into them and they showed such thoughtfulness in the designs they created and words they wrote.

I love settling down to write Christmas cards to loved ones – there’s something calming about it and I try and make each one personal

14/ Indoor snowball fight

This has definitely been a highlight from the activity advent calendar!  I bought these indoor snowballs from Amazon, put this activity at the start of the month and the girls have ended up having multiple snowball fights every single day since.  It gets them up and moving around and almost always results in them all in a heap on the floor in a fit of giggles.  Definitely one of my favourites to include, and theirs too.

15/ Christmas photos

I bought some silly, cheap Christmas glasses from Amazon and, combined with the Santa hats we already had, we looked pretty ridiculous all dressed up in them.  The girls really don’t let me take many photos any more so this one is a way of having a fun, laughter-filled experience together that I hope they’ll remember with the added bonus of some family photos at the end of it.  The sillier the poses and expressions, the better!

A little bit of Christmas silliness

16/ Mini-Christmas with Sophie

Sophie is the girls’ big sister – Neil’s daughter/my stepdaughter.  She’s 19 now and at university but we always have a ‘mini-Christmas’ with her no matter what.  This year it was planned for 23rd December and she was supposed to be coming to stay for a couple of days as per the ‘Christmas bubble’ rules.  And then Tier 4 restrictions came into play and she wasn’t able to come up and visit.  In fact, we weren’t able to see her at all and everyone was devastated – there were a lot of tears from all of us.  Her presents are still wrapped up under the tree and hopefully we’ll be able to rearrange it for another time early in 2021 instead.

17/ Toasted marshmallows and sparklers

I’d bought some sparklers for Bonfire Night back in November and then completely forgot to get them out and use them on the night!  I rediscovered them whilst rummaging around in the utility room for something else and figured that it would be fun thing to include in our activity advent calendar list, especially if we added in some toasted marshmallows as well – kind of a mini-campfire experience without all the flames (Lola is terrified of fire since our kitchen fire at our old house in February 2019).

I discovered Toast’d on Instagram and immediately bought a kit for us to use.  It looks brilliant and came complete with sprinkles and even a hot chocolate mix to have alongside the marshmallows.  I’ve wanted to try s’mores for years, so this was the perfect opportunity!  We were all really excited to try it out.  And then there were delays with having our garden fence replaced (it was falling down and leaving our garden unsecured) plus terrible weather for much of December and this became another one that didn’t actually get completed before Christmas.

We’ve decided to do it on New Years Eve instead because sparklers seem like a fun way to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021.

18/ Make a family Christmas playlist

One of the first tasks from the activity advent calendar and it was such a good one to start off with because we listened to it pretty much every day throughout December – on school runs, whilst decorating the Christmas tree, whilst playing board games and sometimes just randomly.  It contained all of our favourite Christmas songs from all of the artists we like and no songs that we needed to skip past!

19/ Make paper chains

The girls loved doing this and used them to decorate their bedrooms.  It’s such an easy activity to do and only needs coloured paper, scissors and a glue stick.  It kept them occupied for a whole afternoon and really brightened up the spaces in the house that don’t usually get decorated.

20/ Buy a hot chocolate and a sandwich for someone who is homeless

I did this one on my own as we’ve been trying to avoid taking the girls into town whilst the shops were busy in the lead up to Christmas this year.  I think it’s so important to teach them to give wherever and whenever we’re able to, and to help out anyone who needs it.  The town we live in seems to have a growing number of homeless people and I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for them, especially at this time of year in freezing temperatures.

21/ Paint nails in Christmassy colours

Always a favourite!  The girls are not allowed to wear nail varnish at school so as soon as the school holidays come around they beg to paint their nails.  We picked out the most Christmassy colours we could find from our joint collections and they’re absolutely thrilled with them.  It’s amazing how something so small and simple can bring so much joy.

Choosing which colour nail varnish to use… “Which one is the MOST Christmassy Mum?”

22/ Special treat/day out

During the summer holidays I try and arrange one ‘big day out’ or special adventure for us to have as a family, so it seemed only fair that I did the same during our activity advent calendar for the Christmas holidays too.

This year’s summer activity was to watch a movie at the Great British Drive-In, which made it’s home at Sandon Hall, about a 15 minute drive from where we live.  We all really enjoyed it and thankfully the company has been able to continue operating right the way through the second lockdown as they’re deemed ‘Covid-secure’.

Throughout December they were, of course, showing a huge selection of Christmas films, so I booked for us to go and see the classic ‘Home Alone’.  Availability meant I had to book it for a Monday evening rather than a weekend, which would have been preferable, but with a little more forward planning it would have been possible to snag a Saturday slot instead.

We took duvets and blankets and hot water bottles and snuggled up together to watch the film from the warmth of the car.  We opted for a regular ticket rather than a Golden Circle ticket this time and still had a great view.  The girls voted this to be their most favourite thing out of all the activity advent calendar things we did!

23/ Decorate with fairy lights

I firmly believe that you can never have too many fairy lights, so I bought a battery operated set from Amazon and we hung them up (using Command clips) around the kitchen window.  It’s only a small thing but the kitchen is where I seem to spend most of my time whenever everyone is home and it makes me smile every time I walk in the room and see them.  I might leave them up all year round!

24/ Celebrate Dad’s birthday

The other festive birthday we celebrate – five days before Christmas – is Neil’s.  I always try and make it extra special for him as there have been many years in the past before we met where it’s been overshadowed by Christmas and that just doesn’t seem fair to me.  It means extra work at an already busy time but he’s worth it and I love surprising him with something different every year.

Opted for birthday doughnuts instead of a birthday cake and I think a new tradition has been born


More Activity Advent Calendar Ideas

The list above was what I included on our activity advent calendar for this year (2020).  Next year’s will likely look a bit different as we’ll hopefully be through the worst of the pandemic and be allowed out and about a bit more.  That’s the great thing about an activity advent calendar – you can change it every year and keep it fresh so that every day is a surprise!

Here are some extra ideas I came up with that I might add in for 2021 – swapping out the less successful ones from this year with a few different ones from the list below.  If you don’t have any December birthdays; don’t need to do a ‘mini-Christmas’; or have younger children and/or kids with a more varied age range then you might find some of the items on the list below work better for you so feel free to pick and choose the ones you like best – there are no rules!

25/ Sleepover by the Christmas tree

Because wouldn’t that be the most magical thing?  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do it with my three because no-one would get any sleep whatsoever but it would have been something I would have LOVED to do as a kid.

26/ Picnic under the Christmas tree

My girls are big fans of a ‘snacky’ dinner, which mostly consists of party food in the form of a buffet.  I insist that they have the vast majority of their meals at the kitchen table, so a party food picnic by the Christmas tree would be a bit of a treat.

27/ Open their Christmas Eve box

We’ve never done Christmas Eve boxes for the girls, though I can see their appeal.  If this is something your family do then it could be the Day 24 activity on the calendar.

28/ Make reindeer food

Mix together some porridge oats and eco-friendly glitter ready to sprinkle it in your garden, on your driveway or on a doorstep/windowsill for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve night.  This can of course be made in advance any time through the month and stored away in an airtight container.

29/ Make a Christmas wreath for the front door

I’m pretty sure there are lots of tutorials on YouTube for how to make a Christmas wreath, and in more normal years there are usually in-person classes you can attend.

Gathering natural materials to make a Christmas wreath is all part of the fun

30/ Go to a Christmas tree farm and choose a tree

The nearest Christmas tree farm to us is about an hour north of where we live, though I know there are lots scattered all over the country.  I’ve never, ever had a real tree, only fake ones, and it’s something I’d love to do one year.  Picking out which one to bring home seems like it would be a really fun thing to do together as a family – if you add in a hot chocolate date and Christmas shopping trip you could turn it into an entire day long or afternoon adventure.

31/ Christmas Eve church service

This isn’t something we’ve ever done as we’re not religious, but one day I’d like to experience it.  I love churches for their peacefulness and community feel and I imagine that Midnight Mass would be a very special service indeed.

32/ Read Christmas stories by candlelight

My girls are too old for this now but when they were little I always used to read them the little selection of Christmas stories that we have (which I’m now saving for future grandchildren!).  Doing it by candlelight would make it even more magical and help create memories to last a lifetime.

33/ Make paper snowflakes

Making paper snowflakes was something I loved to do as a child – it would be a lovely thing to do together and then you could stick them on the windows to make a festive display.  You can also make 3D snowflakes or stars out of paper bags that you can hang from the ceiling or on the wall which look really pretty. I definitely want to try this next year!

34/ Visit Father Christmas

We don’t do this any more – I think the last visit to Santa we had was in December 2018 – but of course it has to be on the activity advent calendar list for the little ones!

35/ Go ice skating

The ultimate winter fun.  We did it a few years ago at a temporary ice rink set up at Trentham Gardens – I hope it returns next year as it was a really cool thing to do with the girls.

36/ Christmas face paints

Sometimes the most simple of activities can bring the most joy.  We did this several years ago when the girls were little and they loved it!  Plus is relatively inexpensive, easy to do and is perfect for when you need an indoors activity.

37/ Build a snowman / have a REAL snowball fight

I am not a fan of snow.  At all.  But the excitement the girls express when they wake up to a winter wonderland is just magical, and their happiness makes me happy.  Building a snowman and having a snowball fight is a must-do activity if you live somewhere where you get lots of snow.

Building a snowman has to go on the activity advent calendar list if you’re lucky enough to get any snow

38/ Trip to the cinema

In ordinary years there are always new films released at the cinema throughout December.  We usually incorporate watching a movie at the cinema as part of Ella’s birthday treats.  Of course this year it couldn’t happen.  Hopefully next year will bring some awesome new films to watch – there’s nothing better than cosying up in the warmth and losing yourself in another world surrounded by the smell of popcorn and eating a bag of pic’n’mix sweets.

39/ Make a Christmas quiz

Ella actually did this for us this year and it was brilliant fun!  She spent absolutely ages creating the ‘Big Fat Christmas Family Quiz’ for us on a powerpoint and we spent the whole afternoon taking part.  Ella was the quizmaster and the rest of us divided into two teams to answer questions in ten rounds which included topics like ‘Name the backwards Christmas song’, ‘Christmas trivia’ and a Christmas scavenger hunt.  I have a feeling it’s going to become a new tradition for us.  Of course it can be as simple or as challenging as you want it to be depending on the ages of the family members involved.

40/ Carol singing

Either singing the carols yourself as a family around your neighbourhood or going to listen to a choir service at a local church.

41/ Handmade gifts

Homemade gifts are such a lovely thing to both give and receive and there are so many different options for things to make and how to get the children involved.

42/ Choose a new decoration for the tree

My Mum always buys the girls a new personalised decoration for the Christmas tree every year but if you don’t have this tradition you could always start your own by taking the children to a garden centre (or similar) and letting them choose their own new decoration for the tree each year.  It’s a lovely way to build up a collection of meaningful ornaments that make Christmas even more special.

Ella with her new decoration from Christmas last year. We haven’t seen my parents this year because of Covid, so no new decorations. They’ll be back again next year though for sure!

43/ Make stained glass window biscuits

These are such a sweet, fun and easy thing to make with little ones and they look so pretty!  There are lots of recipes available online – we’ve not tried any yet but when we do I’ll probably try this one, this one or this one.

44/ Write and post a letter to Father Christmas

A must-do for younger children because otherwise how will Father Christmas know what they would like to receive for Christmas?!

45/ Festive treasure/scavenger hunt

My girls love a treasure hunt (they go crazy at Easter when they do an Easter Egg hunt through the house) so I’m willing to bet that a festive scavenger/treasure hunt would be a big hit, especially on Christmas Eve with a little prize or the chance to open a small present from under the tree before the big day.  Again, like with the Christmas Quiz, this can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be depending on the ages of the children involved.  I’m pretty sure there are treasure hunt kits available to buy online if you didn’t have time to make your own.

46/ Make dried orange garland decorations

This was a bit of an Instagram trend for 2020 and I decided to join in because look how pretty they are!  They were so easy to do.  I sliced five oranges into 1cm slices, arranged them on a sheet of baking paper, blotted them with kitchen roll to get rid of as much moisture as possible and then baked them in a (pre-heated) oven at 50 degrees Celcius for 3 to 4 hours, turning them over every half hour.  I then switched the oven off and left them in there overnight.  They were absolutely perfect the next morning and the whole house smelt heavenly.  I use them for photo props but of course they’re meant to be used to decorate the Christmas tree, to create garlands with using popcorn and cranberries, or for adding a flourish to gifts wrapped in brown paper and ribbon.

Our dried orange garlands turned out perfectly

Other Activity Advent Calendar Ideas

Some of the traditions we normally have in the run up to Christmas and the activities that we usually do haven’t been able to happen this year because of Covid-19 so I left them off of our activity advent calendar for 2020.  As long as the pandemic situation has improved this time next year, they’ll be firmly back on the list because these ones are some of my very favourites!

47/ Put up Christmas decorations

We always wait until after Ella’s birthday to put up the Christmas decorations so that we can celebrate her fully before switching our focus to all things festive.  She loves that we do that for her but this year all three girls begged us to put them up early.  If any year needed a bit more added sparkle to help us get through it, it’s 2020.  Of course we said yes and put them up two weeks early towards the end of November – before the activity advent calendar officially started, which is why it couldn’t be on the list!

48/ Visit a local Christmas tree festival

There is a beautiful old church in our town centre and every single year at the start of December it plays host to a Christmas Tree Festival.  Local schools, businesses and charities each decorate a tree and there are usually over 200 on display.  It’s absolutely stunning seeing them all lit up inside, especially with the impressive stained glass windows as a backdrop and there is usually carol singing going on throughout each day it’s open too.  Sadly, it wasn’t running this year due to Covid and I really missed it because the Christmas Tree Festival is an event I love to go and see every single year.  I haven’t missed one yet and I’ve lived here for fifteen years!  If there is one near where you live I highly recommend that you pay it a visit next year – you’ll be pleased that you did.

The Christmas Tree Festival is an event I love to go to every single year

49/ Visit Christmas light displays

A trend that seems to have migrated over to the UK from America is that of Christmas light displays, where individual homeowners go all-out to decorate the outside of their houses with as many Christmas lights as they possibly can.  A village near to us is famous for it and visitors usually flock in their thousands every December to witness the extraordinary displays that light up the streets for miles.  It’s all done for charity and they raise a staggering amount of money every year.

I love seeing the girls faces of wonder as we stroll through the village, each house bigger and brighter than the one before.  We all like to pick out which display is our favourite which of course means doing several circuits of the Christmas lights trail so they can go back and reconsider every single house before making a final decision.  I felt very sad that it was cancelled this year – mostly for the charities that wouldn’t benefit from money they would usually receive.  Hopefully it will be back next year even bigger and better than before.

If you’ve never walked the streets or even driven through a town or village where there is a Christmas lights display then this is one that you must add to your activity advent calendar for next year because it’s jus the most magical thing for kids of all ages.

50/ Watch the pantomime

The panto is the ultimate Christmas event.  I remember going to watch it every year when I was a little girl and it’s a tradition that I really wanted to continue with my own children.  We’ve been every year for several years now (as soon as the littlest one was old enough to be able to sit through a couple of hours of entertainment – I think she was 5 years old the first time we went) and we all love it.  It’s silly, it’s noisy, it’s fun and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon as a family.  Again, with theatres sadly being closed due to Covid, there haven’t been any pantomimes running in our part of the country this year.  As soon as tickets are released for next year’s performance at our local theatre I’ll be snapping them up because this is an event that is guaranteed to be included on our activity advent calendar.

The final curtain call from last year’s panto – Peter Pan!

12 Days Of Magic

Twenty-four consecutive days of festive activities can feel like a lot.  It did for me every so often and I have to admit to initially feeling the pressure of wanting to tick them all off and worrying if we ‘fell behind’ as if it’s some kind of competition or that there’s a deadline to having fun.  That led to me losing the magic in it all a little bit occasionally because it sometimes felt more like a to-do list and a chore than a fun, memory making experience with my girls, which isn’t what I wanted to happen at all.  Thankfully I was able to let go of that and go with the flow – I think we ended up completing maybe two-thirds of all of the activities in the end which is pretty good all things considered.

A photographer I follow on Instagram, Andrea Hanki, who is infinitely creative and always shares words of wisdom and beautiful images that I love, came up with the idea of ’12 Days Of Magic’.  It works out as an activity every other day, or twelve in total throughout the month if you choose to carry it on beyond Christmas Eve, meaning that there are no set days to do anything – you can just pick something if you feel like it or even do two or more on a day where everyone is feeling the magic.  I really like this idea and depending on what the world looks like in December 2021 I might adopt it as an alternative because it’s good to switch things up and keep things fresh.

Advent Calendar 2021

Overall our activity advent calendar was a success and it’s been a year to remember for sure.  All of the girls have asked to do it again next year and that’s good enough for me.  I’ll use what I’ve learnt from this year’s experience to make December 2021 just as memorable in different ways because hopefully we’ll have more freedom and therefore be able to make even more magic moments.

Have you done an activity advent calendar this year?  If so, what was your favourite thing to do from the list?  If you’ve never tried it before do you think you might do one next year?  Let me know your thoughts (and any ideas for other activities we could include!) in the comments below and thank you for reading.  I’m always so grateful to those who follow along with our journey.

I hope you’ve all had a joy-filled festive season, whatever it’s looked like for you, and I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful start to the new year.

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