November 23, 2013

DIY - Christmas Countdown Basket

Everyone has their own way of counting down the days until Christmas. For our family, starting on December 1st, we open one "gift" everyday from our Christmas Countdown Basket! Each "gift" in our Christmas basket signifies a fun family activity that we all do together! It not only helps us count the days until December 25th, but it also allows us to bond as a family, spend time together, and create lifelong memories!

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We started this new family tradition last year. Up until then, we always used a standard Advent Calendar to help us count the days until Christmas. Everyday our daughter would flip open a day on the calendar and get a piece of chocolate/candy. She loved the candy of course, but we wanted to make the countdown to Christmas a little more exciting!

So one day last November as I was scrolling through pages of pictures on Pinterest (make sure to follow my board here), I stumbled upon a link about Christmas Buckets. This lady's idea about doing various Christmas activities everyday until Christmas inspired me to start something similar! From there, our family started our new tradition of a Christmas Countdown Basket!

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I bet you're thinking - I don't have the time or money to do thisHow can she afford that many gifts or have the money to do these activities?! To be honest, most of our "gifts" cost little to no money at all! And the time we spend doing each activity is all up to us! The point of the "gifts" is to just spend time together as a family! Our "gifts" varied from writing a letter to Santa, watching a Christmas DVD, drinking hot chocolate, driving around looking at Christmas lights, and going on a sleigh ride! That's what I love about it! It's all up to you and what kinds of memories you want to make with your family!

Last year was the first time that I started this and we had so much fun! Below are a few pictures of us doing some of our Christmas basket "gifts" in 2012!

DAY 3 - Paint our own Christmas ornaments!

DAY 12 - Make snowflakes!
DAY 19 - Build a gingerbread house!
DAY 23 - Bake and decorate sugar cookies!

 Each day, our children would open a "gift" with the day's corresponding number written on it and unlock a surprise activity that we all do as a family!

Our daughter would get so excited everyday when she got to "open" a gift! Even though most of the "gifts" were just written on a piece of paper and put in an envelope, she looked forward to the activity that would be written inside! Our son is still too little to completely grasp the concept, but I know when he gets older, this will be a tradition that he will look forward to every Christmas as well! :)

Opening Day 1's gift and it said to Visit Santa!

Like I said above, this is a project that shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg! Think of activities you all can do as a family that doesn't require money or uses things that you already own!
The goal of this is to just make memories!

Where to Buy "Gifts":
All of the "gifts" that the kids unwrapped were either currently owned, bought on sale or at the dollar store, or bought second hand at the pawn shop (which, by the way, is a great place for finding old Christmas DVD's for CHEAP)! If you want to go crazy with it, you definitely can, but every family is different!

Breakdown of the "GIFTS" we will UNWRAP this year:
  • Watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on DVD (currently owned)
  • Watch "Elf" on DVD (currently owned)
  • Build a Gingerbread House ($10 at Wal-Mart)
  • Make 'Milano Santa Cookies' (Santa Cookie Tutorial)
  • Read "The 12 Days of Christmas" before bed (bought at the dollar store)
  • Build a Nativity Set (currently owned) and discuss the story of Jesus
  • Sing Christmas carols with a CD of Christmas music (bought at the dollar store)
  • Color a Christmas coloring book (bought at the dollar store) 

Breakdown of our ACTIVITY ENVELOPES this year:
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Pick a child in need from our church's Angel Tree and buy a gift for them
  • Make our own snowflakes (Snowflakes Tutorial)
  • Make our own Christmas tree ornament (Christmas Ornament Tutorial)
  • Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • Visit Santa (FREE! And make sure to bring their letters to Santa!)
  • Visit "The Magical Forest" (Pricey, but it's been our tradition every year)
  • Celebrate Kaelyn's birthday (We always reserve an envelope to celebrate our daughter's birthday on December 8th, so that is our family activity that day)
  • Turn our front door into a Snowman (Snowman Door Tutorial)
  • Donate old toys and clothes to children in need
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights
  • Buy or make a Christmas gift for your sibling
  • Go to "Holidays at the Park" event by our house (FREE!)
  • Make a reindeer with our hands and feet (Reindeer Tutorial)
  • Do a Christmas Scavenger Hunt (FREE PRINTABLE Christmas Scavenger Hunt)
  • Take a sleigh ride at Gilcrease Orchard ($36 for the 4 of us)
  • MERRY CHRISTMAS! - Open our Christmas gifts and celebrate Mommy and Jesus's birthdays!

Those are the 25 activities that we will be doing every day this year leading up until December 25th! These Christmas baskets can be modified based off your budget and what you have around the house! You can even do it for less days than 25 if you want! A 12 days until Christmas countdown sounds fun too!

As you can see above, we did include some outside activities that do cost money, but that is our choice. If your family just wants to do a different craft everyday until Christmas, that is fine too! JUST SPEND TIME TOGETHER AND MAKE MEMORIES!

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I can't wait until December 1st! We had such a blast doing this last year and I'm sure we will have just as fun if not more this year!

I highly suggest starting this family tradition with your family! I PROMISE you will enjoy your Christmas Countdown Basket just as much as we do! :)


  1. LOVE THIS!!!! We will definitely be doing this this Christmas! Thank you for sharing!

  2. What a wonderful idea. :)