For the last few years I have been preparing thoughtful advent calendars after deciding chocolate advent calendars are a bit dull and predictable. So I make prepare lovely felt calendars placing little toys and gifts in the pockets.
I try to spend less than 25/35p per pocket but make an exception for Lego. When the local or national newspapers have “free Lego” I will pay about 60p for it. The paper just goes in the recycling pile or will be used as chicken bedding.
Lego goes in weekend pockets, these take time to build. Little gifts like snap cards, miniature colouring pencil sets, wooden toys and tiny teddies go in the weekdays.
These little beauties are mostly bought in pound shops and Wilko.
The pockets on my sons’ advent calendars really are quite small, perfect for chocolate coins but not for stashing decent sized toys in. So to get round this I use little notes.
To start I just steal borrow some coloured paper from my youngest lads colouring draw. I fold the sheets to make ripping then easier – you could use scissors but I like the childish look for kids the advents. I keep the big toys or crafty items hidden at the North Pole, well under my bed in a big box actually but don’t tell them that. They just bring me the note that says “racing snail”, “crayons”, “snap cards” or “Lego Chima” and that item magically appears.
Of course it would be easier to buy a pair of bigger matching fabric calendars, or some of those funky little wooden draws that look like elf furniture but we have used these for years now, and I really don’t want to part with them.
I try to spread the toys out so they do not get all the bigger gifts at once. I start off with crafty items such as a card making and miniature crimbo tree making kits. I want them to get into the Christmas spirit early and also not miss posting dates if possible. The things that will occupy them the longest, this year that would be the Lego polybags, are dished out at the weekends to reduce drama.
If you are looking for a cheap option this isn’t what you are looking for.
The advent I prepared for Blokey is a lot cheaper though. Using the same coloured paper sheets I wrap some adult chocolates. Half of them are Jim Beam, half are Teacher’s. I wanted to use Jack Daniel’s chocolates but I couldn’t find them in town.
These chocolates were only a pound a box so really rather reasonable.
Other things that work great for reusable calendars:
- A large Lego*, Playmobil or Meccano* set. You spilt the model up according to the instructions, so say your model has seventy numbered instructions you write little notes like “do instructions 1, 2 & 3” and place this in a calendar pocket with just the pieces referenced in those numbered instructions.
- Books! Buy discounted books for example this Ladybird books collection. With fifty books it would be great for sharing between two siblings.
- Hot Wheels* cars. Buy some multipacks of cars and pop in a car a day on most days with track sections on the weekends. If you have a launcher section save that for the last day.
- Cookery kit. Get some nice cookie cutters and place in one a day, with a note saying “ask Mum/Dad/Granny to turn on the oven. Let’s get cookie making” on the weekend. For the other weekends I suggest baking tools. If you get a kids cookery set like this* the price per item drops nicely. For the third and fourth week go for chocolate making! You can buy nice traditional metal chocolate moulds* cheaply online, or try local shops. Ice cube trays make good moulds, but look lousy in advents unfortunately.
Do you do anything special? Or do you have shop chocolate boxed advent calendars?
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