As children growing up in Germany we always had the traditional chocolate Adventskalender from December 1st to December 24th – Christmas Eve to count down the days until Christmas. Each day we opened a window in the calendar and got a Christmas themed chocolate bite (like a tree, a candle, a snowman etc.) and a corresponding small picture. My sister liked to open the windows in advance and eat as many chocolates as possible while I liked to save mine and waited a few days until I opened the windows all together. Even as teenagers, we still wanted to have a calendar and I even bought myself calendars as an adult. This was and is a Christmas tradition, I would never want to miss. Over the years many new traditions were started in our family, but this post is about the craziness of the Adventskalender in our house.
When I met my husband, he didn’t know much about this tradition and had never received one of course. I had to make him one! I made 24 paper stars and filled them with little goodies before hanging them on a wall. Not the best picture, but the only one I have…
From the first year we met until today, he received a different Adventskalender every year and my skills have improved since then. A couple of years later, he found an old-fashioned wooden advent calendar and surprised me with it. Since that year, I am getting one from him too. About two years after I made the first one for my husband, I surprised my sister and my parents with a miniature calendar made from matchboxes on Thanksgiving.
From this year one, I made one for my sister and my sister made one for me (ok, we are at 4 calendars right now). My sister makes also one for her husband and he has one for her. There were years I made the calendar for my Mom, but this was only when there was extra time. (unfortunately not anymore). I do have two children and OF COURSE they get Adventskalender too!!!! The total count for this year, would be 7 calendar, which means 168 little windows or doors to fill. Ok, that sounds crazy, but in reality it is magical. All December is filled with little gifts, treasures, notes and special memories and we all love it. It is quite some work to get there, because we are making the Adventskalender ourselves and (to make it more challenging) we have a theme every year. It can be a color or a certain material, like one year the material was paper bags, another year we used gingerbread houses as an inspiration and had a sweet Christmas. I will make a separate post about this year. My sister and I already exchanged our calendars, but I am still working on the ones for the kids and my husband. Yes, it is late, but I will make it like every year…. it was much more difficult when Eva and I lived in separate states and we had to get the calendar to each other in time…
It is one thing to make the calendar, another much more difficult task to fill it…. My family got spoiled over the years and a simple chocolate calendar doesn’t work…. My husband is the most difficult, because he doesn’t like sweets and he wants to be surprised (meaning not the same kind of gift every day).
I am always trying to think about unique ideas for the calendar and we came up with pretty good filling ideas over the years, which included:
– scratch/lottery tickets – which my sister and I did both for our husbands one year – we did not win anything big
– little love notes or poems (and one year “I love you” in 24 languages)
– pictures with memories from the past which make nice conversations close to a fireplace or Christmas tree
– beer – I made a calendar with beer bottles from all over the world
– DVDs – I went shopping on Black Friday and got really good prices for some blockbuster movies
– a striptease calendar with a twist (one picture each day with removing one item of clothes or accessories. The first picture will be like a snowman with layers of clothes, hat, jewelry etc. The idea is that the last picture would show all, but here comes the twist. On the last picture you hold up a large piece of paper or white foam board in front of you without exposing anything that says: Did you really think, I would be naked??? Merry Christmas… This was sooooooooooooo funny…
– an activity calendar – which has “Christmas inspired” things you want to do like bake cookies together, make a snowman, go ice skating, kiss under the mistletoe, drink hot chocolate, make Christmas cards – this should be combined with another idea or it can be really stressful to do everything on the list. I did it combined with love notes which made it very romantic.
– things your partner, sister or whoever you make the calendar for likes – this needs to have a budget for each day – soap, candles, candy, lip balm, chocolate, magnets, nail polish, fashion jewelry, figurines, christmas ornaments, toys, coloring & other projects or any other small gift – check for stocking stuffings to get small gifts
– a beauty calendar with all kinds of beauty related gifts or any other themed calendar
– a baby calendar (when I was pregnant with Luca, Eva made me a calendar with everything baby related)
– a story calendar which has Christmas stories or Christmas tradition from around the world
How did you fill your Advent calendar? Do you have any other unique ideas? Sound off in the comments below…
Come back next week for our Top 10 Adventskalender we have made throughout the year!