Simple Family Holiday Advent Calendar of Memories

Holidays are a time of wonder, joy, family, and memories.  For parents, in particular, moms, let’s face it, holidays are simply overwhelming. Presents, trimming the tree, baking, Santa, hosting parties, school activities, which side of the family to visit – the list never seems to end. Oh and on Christmas morning, make sure your hair is tousled perfectly with ever so light make-up for pictures. Really! People should be happy I am awake.

As the holidays ended, I always felt drained and miserable.  Where was the “perfect family picture” depicted in those 30-second holiday commercials?  It sucked the joy out of me.  Therefore, four years ago, I decided to take the holidays back!

I started researching ways to establish memories over materialist things. The search was CRAZY! Who had time for 30, 40, 60, 100! ways to create memories. Running around stores to gather materials for Christmas crafts, bundling all kids up for a walk in the woods to see animals (you know a child or two is going to be missing gloves, boots, hats), baking Pinterest style cookies (and not screaming over the mess they have created). I know, I know they were suggestions, but come on another way to make me feel inadequate. Most suggestions were time-consuming (which I felt was always lacking during the holidays anyway) and required me to be busy again. What I wanted was simple: TIME WITH MY FAMILY.

So I uncomplicated things and created my own feasible list. As the holidays are fast approaching, I don’t have a sense of dread. Don’t get me wrong, the never-ending list still exists (as delineated above) but I have craved time with family in which we just be. Memories are being created. And when the fad of the new toy dies, those memories will be the priceless treasures that my kids will carry into adulthood.

My Advent Calendar for the Holidays:

We start the week of Thanksgiving and end on New Years. We have staples things we do each year and the order doesn’t matter. We add and take out things depending on the time. But what doesn’t change is that: We do one fun holiday memory each week. It usually involves food or drinks because let’s face it who wants crank kids of all ages when creating memories.

  1. Going for Hot Chocolate. This sounds simple enough but you cannot complicate it with trying to multitask i.e. going for hot chocolate in the mall and then while drinking it shopping. Go to your local coffee shop, all members of the family get hot chocolate, and then…wait for it…SIT DOWN on those comfy chairs. Enjoy the beverage and talk with each other. Usually, takes 30 minutes tops.
  2. After dinner or lunch, go out to a restaurant for their holiday dessert. Kids are fed so not crawling all over the place, you don’t spend too much money, and who doesn’t like dessert? For the adults, try a holiday beverage.
  3. Fill a Samaritan Purse Shoebox by going to a participating Chick-Fil-A (see the pattern here). While eating your meal, discuss with your kids what to fill (guidelines are provided) and the concept of charity. Other charity options would be donating food cans to a local pantry or a coat drive.
  4. Pick a day during the holiday break and view all the Christmas lights around town. In the evening, pile the family in the car. Either let your kids pick a drink from home and bring with them or drive-thru to get hot chocolate. Blast some holiday music and enjoy the sights and sounds.
  5. Caroling. I know, I said to make it simple for me. But trust me and read on. We make simple caramel sauce (brown sugar, cream, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract – Google any recipe – takes 10 minutes). We pour in small quart pint mason jars. While it cools, the boys create a holiday card with paper and crayons. On small paper plates, we add holiday candies, caramel sauce, and the holiday card. Cover with saran wrap and add some ribbon – done! We only create about 6-8 paper plates. (See not overwhelming). Then, we head out to our closest neighbors. We sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and hand them our gift!
  6. Lastly, during the holiday break, we pick a day to watch our favorite Christmas movie. The time and date are treated like you would be going to the movie theater. Make some popcorn and enjoy!

Hope this helps. And Wishing You and Your Family a holiday filled with memories, joy, and health! Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Happy New Years!


Sonal, MD


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