Alternative Advent Countdown

What’s your preferred way to countdown to Christmas? Traditional Advent Calendar, or one filled with chocolate? (I liked the idea of the mini-gins – until I saw the price!)

The Small Business Marketing Coach has put together some alternatives to mark the 24 days to Christmas, things to do as a family which are free, charitable, ecological or just simply fun!

  1. Learn how to say Happy Christmas in a new language every day from now to Christmas. Online translators are very useful for this…
  2. Take a winter woodland walk and look for animal tracks. If you are really lucky it will be frosty or snowy which really helps show up little wild footprints – and decorates spiders’ webs beautifully.
  3. Donate to a local foodbank – check what is most needed and WHEN (it’s likely they need things now rather than collecting over the next 24 days and dropping everything off on Christmas Eve).
  4. Make a family video clip to send to friends instead of the Round Robin Letter or school photo.  Easy to do – in fact, most kids can do this on their own! A smartphone and upload to a free site like YouTube, then a slip of paper with the URL to put in Christmas cards is all you need…ask a teenager if you are not sure…!
  5. Get the family involved in Christmas Card Making and writing – even the smallest member of the family can stick on festive stickers and use simple stamps.
  6. Fill a shoe box for a Christmas charity – look online for schemes, what they want and deadline dates.
  7. Make a tradition to choose your tree together – or cut down one yourselves. I discovered there are cut your own trees at a beautiful local estate. They provide a saw and you’ll need wellies! Check out the web for places near you!
  8. Go to church! If you have kids at junior school its possible you will be attending a Nativity this year…other than that take a look at the services locally and look out for local hospices’ Light up a Life services, especially if you’d like to remember a loved one lost..
  9. Clear kids’ old toys and adults’ unwanted quality items then give to a charity. Remember – donate don’t dump.
  10. Read Christmas Stories – for older children and adults too there are many ghostly Christmas tales to read or listen to including the most famous, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Our libraries and charity shops will have a display of children’s books for this season and the Christmas ones will be beautifully illustrated, a feast for the eyes.
  11. Take a walk to see how your neighbours are decorating for Christmas. There are some quite well known spectacular displays on residential houses and many collect for charity.
  12. Go carolling. Many pubs and inns keep this tradition in December and Christmas Carol sing-a-longs in Village Halls and on Village Greens are a lovely way to mark the season. Of course big towns and cities are awash with live events at this time of year…including Pantomimes (oh no they won’t, oh yes they will!)
  13. Visit the cinema or watch a family Christmas movie. Many cable/satellite companies offer a Christmas Channel.
  14. Make gingerbread shapes – loads of fab family recipes there or the internet is a vast resource for scrummy ideas. Keeping it simple use cutters or make templates and create your own shapes. A drinking straw (even a paper one!) will be just the right size to make a hole for a ribbon before baking, which can then be used to hang as a Christmas Decoration, piped with icing if you wish. [ICED GINGERBREAD IMAGE]
  15. Visit local independent shops, craft fairs and markets. See how much of your Christmas gift and food shop you can buy from local small businesses and keep your community thriving.
  16. Make paper chains out of last year’s gift wrap. A rough guide is to make strips about 20 cm by 2 cm – and start with making lots of chains of about 6 loops in length, keep a spare strip for every chain of 6 you make, then join all your mini chains together using the spare strips at the end. Use glue or short strips of sticky tape to make the joins.
  17. Help a local homeless shelter such at St George’s Crypt, Leeds. Check with them what they need, because it probably is more likely that they require funds, food or warm clothes rather than you going in to serve a dinner on Christmas Day.
  18. Make recyclable gift wrap from recycled paper! Did you know that MANY Christmas gift wrap rolls are made with at least some plastic – even those that feel like paper? Buy a roll of Kraft paper made from recycled paper (try locally first, readily available online otherwise). It is simple to print or dress up with ribbons and little treasures.
  19. Make paper snowflakes out of your junk mail – Make a circle, fold into six even ‘slices’ and experiment with cutting shapes out of the edges, unfold to see what your unique snowflake looks like!
  20. Hold a board games night – there’s no need to buy new, support a local charity shop by buying jigsaws and traditional games for a tech-free pyjama night.
  21. Help the birds in your garden by making sure you fill your bird feeders with RSPB recommended food and also supply unfrozen water.
  22. Create a playlist of your favourite Christmas carols and songs – Spotify or similar free apps are great for this.
  23. Make a Christmas Eve Box for a loved one! This has been developing as a ‘thing’ for some years and you can include small gifts to help prep for the Big Day such as new Christmas Pyjamas, a hot choccy set or even healthy treats to share with Father Christmas and Rudolph!
  24. Write a letter to Father Christmas – make sure you’re on his NICE list!

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