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A slightly “green” Advent book countdown

A slightly “green” Advent book countdown

In the last few years we have started doing our own little Advent celebration at home during December.  It’s not something I grew up with, but we have all really enjoyed doing something together each evening of December.  This year we’ve added a few new ideas:  a Jesse Tree and an Advent book countdown.  I wanted to mention the book countdown….I’m sure many of you have seen photos of this idea online, and I saw it circulating on Pinterest a lot….so I decided to make my own version.

The idea is this: wrap up 24 kids books, and make them look like presents, then each day the kids can unwrap and read one  book.  The idea isn’t that they are necessarily new books or even Christmas/winter books.  That seemed easy enough to do!!  And kind of cute.  So a few months ago I started picking some of (my favorite) books off the kids’ bookshelves and squirreling them away.  We also have a stash of Christmas/winter books that I pack away after the holiday each year.  But then I was thinking of all that wrapping paper……don’t get me wrong, I LOVE wrapping paper!!  But sometimes when I see the big bags full of scrunched up paper that gets thrown out every year (because most of it can’t be recycled) I feel kinda bad….so (lightbulb!!!) I thought of wrapping the books in something that won’t get tossed!  (that’s where the “green” part comes in!! I wouldn’t be adding to the trash on the planet! bonus!)

I looked around the house and found some chunks of fabric and 3 new dishtowels…and thought, this is it!  So I did buy a couple of those cute packages of dishtowels, the kind that have 4 coordinating ones tied with a ribbon…denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksI didn’t think I had enough fabric around the house, so I wanted some new fabric, to go with my Christmas colors of red, white and brown for this year.  So those “fat quarters” at Walmart came in handy…denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksAnd then I realized….this is turning into an expensive project!!  That’s when I decided to wrap some of the books in brown kraft paper from the dollar store.  I did rationalize the dishtowels….I really need new ones….and the fabric…..I will use it in various projects, really!!  (As soon as I get that sewing machine to work!)  Oh, and new red yarn…..I’ll use it for many Christmas projects!

Anyways….here’s my recipe for a cute and fun “green” Advent book countdown:

denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books24 kids’ books (both hard and soft covers)

1 roll of brown kraft paper

yarn and string (I used red, brown and white)

11 new dishtowels

7 lengths of fabric of different sizes (red, brown and white)

scissors and tape

1 and 1/2 hours of your time

Directions:  (this is probably why it took me an hour and a half:) pick out the order you want the kids to unwrap the books.  The easiest way would have been to have the largest books on the bottom of the pile and the smalles books on top.  But I had to do it the time-consuming way of course!!  And then I decided to wrap the books with the fabric for the first days of December so that I could use that fabric for some Christmas decorating….these things take time, so feel free to skip these steps and just jump in and wrap away!!  Tie the fabric-wrapped books with yarn or string, and use tape on the brown paper.  I thought it would be cute to add numbered tags…but I knew that that would take me an extra hour to do….and I was rushing to get it done before the kids got home!  (I’m afraid that I also kept a list of what book would be opened which day, just in case I felt like coordinating some activity with a book….so far this has not been necessary or used at all!          Boy I sound like a geek.)denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books

(I was humming “brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things!!)  Stack up the presents as you go, and there you are:  your beautiful green Advent countdown is ready to go!denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown books

Disclaimer: the author of this recipe and tutorial does not guarentee that your children will appreciate or even like your work and effort to create this advent countdown.  They may not want to do it, or may not think that unwrapping old books is cool or fun.  You must be the judge of what your children can handle  (yes, it is ok, as a parent, to be judgemental in these types of situations!)

Here are some of the books I wrapped up:denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksI know my kids are getting older, but many of these they can remember from when they were little, so I thought a bit of nostalgia was ok for this project….some of my favorites:denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksI love Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, it’s really special.  Usborne books have some really cute Christmas and winter books and a nice book of Christmas carols.  The Nutcracker book has become a tradition around here.  The Christmas Story is a book that was given to me by my special Auntie Lucy and Uncle Homer when I was a wee one ( a long time ago!).  The inscriptions in the books can be as important as the book itself, I think….so be intentional and write a bit to your child and date it, believe me, it will be cherished.  We even have a book that was created by my daughter! 🙂 denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksAnother book that has become a traditional Christmas favorite is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (in the middle of the photo)…it was a gift from friends and came with a CD to listen to.  I just love love love listening to it when the lights are low and the kids are tucked into their beds and drifting off to sleep, it’s so soothing and magical, with a really great story!  (We haven’t unwrapped that one yet!!)

denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksFishing in the Air isn’t a Christmas or winter book, but one of my very very favorite kids’ books to read aloud.  About a father and a son and their memorable fishing trip.denna's ideas: "green" Advent countdown booksAbulea’s Weave is a book I found last year, about a Guatemalan girl and her grandmother.  I was so happy to finally have a kids book about Guatemala!  The White Pony is another of my all all-time favortite kids books….maybe my MOST FAVORITE OF ALL.  The painted illustrations of Native Americans are gorgeous and the story is really the most one fabulous one ever told.  I totally recommend this book, it’s great for all ages:  The White Pony “a tale of great love by Sandra Byrd, paintings by Sarah Waldron” published by Waterbrook Press.denna's ideas: the best kids in the world!!What can I say?? Even though there are times when I’m going completely crazy and want to stop ALL this Christmas preparation and just sit down and give up on absolutely everything, there will come a moment like the one above, when everyone is together in harmony, and I’ll will remember that I have the BEST kids in the whole world and that I guess my efforts aren’t wasted if I can give them a nice Christmas to remember.  My six-year-old and I walked into the house yesterday after being at the clinic, and she said “I love walking into our warm house full of cozy things!!” and that sure made me smile.  Yes, it’s messy and cluttered and sometimes that’s all I can see, but she focused on the coziness and is grateful for a warm house on a freezing cold day.  That’s something to Ponder in my Heart and remember to be grateful for.

I hope you are having a beautiful Advent season, counting down the days to the day when we celebrate the BEST BIRTHDAY OF ALL!!  🙂

Christmas in July….a puzzling tradition…

Christmas in July….a puzzling tradition…

I don’t quite get the whole “Christmas in July” thing.  I’ve been seeing it everywhere.  I guess it’s great for those people who can think that far ahead and have space to keep all their early Christmas preparations….I just can’t.  I’m afraid that I just took my Christmas tree down in May, so I’m really not feeling like thinking about Christmas!!

But I did just happen to find a draft of a post I did in December, but never posted.  So in the spirit of Christmas in July, here is something we made up to do at our house, to use in our Advent countdown to Christmas…it has been fun, and we have been doing it enough years that each child has made each puzzle!

Maybe July isn’t such a bad time to start thinking about things like Advent countdowns, just in case you see something on a summer sale!!  (I’ve already been searching for things for my daughter’s bday in the fall!)  Anyways, check these out:

(these are some of my digital scrapbook 12×12 layouts using Creative Memories digital content)