It’s hard to believe that at the end of this week we will officially be in December. How did that happen?! I feel like it was just a few weeks ago when we were putting all the decorations from last Christmas away… no?!?! Egad, I have a lot to do… but that is another post.

What’s on top of my priority list right now is preparing the Advent Calendar here. Growing up, I had one of those “open the flaps” paper Advent calendars. Some years, my mom even let us get the “fancy” ones… complete with glitter and a stand in the back. I still remember the anticipation of opening the little window, and seeing what it said. As we got older, the Advent calendars got even fancier and some of them even included chocolate. It wasn’t very good chocolate usually… but still, extra sweets? Count me in!

Flash forward to today and the Advent calendar options are literally endless… not only do I see them in the supermarkets and bookstores, I see them in every kids’ catalog and mass marketer. Not to mention all the ideas you see on Pinterest, the handmade options on Etsy, and all the printable versions you can find online. Last year, I ended up having four different countdown calendars because they were all “just so perfect!” That ended up being overwhelming and stressful, in case you were wondering. Yet, I find myself going down the same path again this year… because they are all just. so. perfect!

Today, I’m sharing the Advent countdown closest to my heart…


Yup, that’s what you think it is… 24 wrapped books. One for each bedtime, or “sleep,” before Christmas. I actually have a 25th book that Spencer will find under the tree Christmas morning as well. We’ve been doing this for two years now, and we find that it’s been really good in providing us some quiet together time in a season filled with obligations and craziness. In full disclosure, I saw this done in 2009 on oohdeedoh… But I didn’t have enough books then. The first year we did it, I had shopped sales and got lots of cheapie books at the dollar stores. I’ve been collecting holiday and winter themed books for several years now, and finally feel like I have a solid set of books for the countdown… it’s a work in progress, which keeps it fun for me! Our books range in topic from holiday-themed (Christmas and Hanukah), to Santa, to winter, to snowmen, to religious… which helps remind my little one of the reason for the season!

{Note: This project can be done very affordably if you start as weekly countdown and just get four books. I have bought all my books very reasonably by keeping my eyes open at book sales, library sales, and consignment stores. Also, the dollar spot at Target has some simple ones that work… and all retailers deep, deep discount their holiday books after Christmas. My local bookstore sells them at 75% off in the week following Christmas. That’s where most of these have come from. I also buy all my wrapping paper at the Target dollar spot. And the best part is that we tuck the books away after the New Year, and pull them out again next year. And they are “new” all over again!}

I spend one night the week before December 1st wrapping all the books and putting the tags on them. I do this while listening to Christmas music or watching one of my favorite holiday movies. For me, I find it relaxing and it puts me in the holiday spirit. Then, we open one book each night before bedtime. It’s always fun to see Spencer’s reaction to the book. The first year we did this I wrote each reaction on the back of the tag (along with the book title).

I know this might seem like a lot of work… but it’s so worth it to me to allow for carved out time together every night, without being just an extra thing to do. And, I’m trying very hard to raise a kid who loves to read, so totally worth the effort to me.

It should be noted that I am really struggling to stay with just one advent calendar this year. I remember how stressful it was last year when I had multiple ones going… but I gotta say, this “Build-a-Beard” Advent calendar by inviting printables is really calling my name. As is this cute and quick DIY Advent calendar by Oh Happy Day… And my word, have you seen this simple, adorable Handmade Advent Calendar by Playful Learning? So many options, and just one holiday. Sigh.

Tell me friends, does your family do an Advent calendar of some sort? What do you like best about it?