Book Advent Calendar

A mommy friend posted on Facebook last year about doing a book advent calendar or book countdown to Christmas for her child. Apparently this was already a thing, and she did not invent it, but being the first time I saw it, I thought she was a genius. Twenty-five days of celebrating the holidays through books? Twenty-fve excuses to share my love of reading and the Christmas season with my little guy? Twenty-five ways to spoil him with stories and snuggles? Sign me up!

So this year I pulled together twenty-five winter and holiday themed books, wrapped them up, and stacked them artfully (as artful as I get) with a Santa hat plopped on top. Tonight we dove into the pile and explored our first new book, Elmo’s Countdown to Christmas, because, ya know, toddler. (And yes, I’m starting early because I want to end on Christmas Eve with The Night Before Christmas.)

Little man was pretty impressed when he realized the stack of Mickey Mouse wrapped packages were all books and all for him. He was so impressed, in fact, he strung together four words “one book more…please” which is pretty good for a pint-sized beggar and the polite please almost had me caving—but not quite.

For those who think this is as awesome as I did but worry about the cost or work, here are a few ideas to simplify it:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. My little guy doesn’t know that 20 of his 25 books were gifted, donated, or bought used. Even as he gets older and might remember favorite books from year to year, it’s still okay to reuse because it’s about the fun of opening and (re)reading the story, not about ‘getting things.’ I plan to rotate in a few new titles each year to fit his interests and age. This year the new ones were Mickey, Daniel Tiger, Elmo, Mac the Tractor, and Little Blue Truck.
  • Involve the relatives. If you have plans to see aunts, uncles, or grandparents a few nights over the holiday season, see if they’d be willing to share a favorite story with your little one as his/her book that day.
  • Make an outing of it. Take a weekly trip to the library and pick out books for the week to read each night.
  • Do the 12 books of Christmas or the 8 books of Chanukah. Or for the older kids just pick a special novel and read a chapter or two each night.
  • Skip the wrapping. Stick the books in a festive bag or box and pull one out each night. Or maybe that creepy Elf can deliver a new, unwrapped book each night. (Sorry, I have elf issues.)

I can never pass up a chance to read to my little man and am lucky beyond measure to have the time and means to be able to share stories with him on a daily basis, but however you choose to instill the love of reading and/or the magic of the holidays in your child, you are giving them some of the best gifts there are to give!

Happy reading!

Here are the books I included in our book countdown to Christmas this year. The covers below are affiliate links to Amazon:


Overcoming Baby Store Syndrome

Originally posted December 29, 2015 on Merely Mothers (now Evie & Sarah)

I didn’t get to register for a wedding, but, as a girl who loves to shop, I always imagined getting that little scanner gun and zapping my way through a store would be wonderful. So when I first found out I was pregnant, the idea of finally going into a baby store to choose things for my own child seemed like a dream come true.

Mid-way through my first trimester, I walked into one of the larger baby chain stores. Outside the store, I trilled with excitement. Inside, I instantly felt nauseous. Maybe it was my usual bout of afternoon ‘morning’ sickness or the fact I’d come from work and was tired and hungry, but after just one aisle, all I wanted to do was run out of there screaming. And I did, well, minus the screaming; I kept that in my head. Maybe it was a little too early to think about baby gear.

By trimester two, though, I was ready to try again. After all, eventually I would want to register for and/or buy at least the basics before baby was born. So on a bleak, foggy day in early December that reminded me eerily of the opening scene in A Christmas Carol just before four creepy specters arrive to terrify Scrooge, I entered the overwhelming world of baby gear once again. And once again I wanted to cry, or vomit, or both. What was it about the sight of onesies that induced such a gut-wrenching reaction? It’s a humbug I tell you!

Seeing aisles of products I couldn’t name, never mind know what to do with had made me panic—twice. How much of this crap did I need? Who’s going to show me how to use it? What if I pick something unsafe? How much is this all going to cost? All these thoughts raced through my already exhausted pregnant mind, leaving me with one conclusion: I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, and therefore both the baby and I were obviously as doomed as Scrooge’s unredeemable soul.

After a snack, a nap, and a chat with a pregnant co-worker nearing the end of her pregnancy, I realized this reaction was relatively normal, although perhaps a bit exaggerated by hormones, hunger, and the fact I’d been teaching A Christmas Carol long enough that I was beginning to have it memorized. Logic returned, somewhat, and I turned to my third favorite resource—after food and friends and family—books, but no more Dickens.

With a hand-me-down copy of Baby Bargains by Denise and Alan Fields, I set out to conquer the challenge of choosing baby gear from the safety and security of my own home. For a couple weeks I spent my evenings reading through one section of the book at a time while constantly checking online for prices, pictures, and further reviews. In my pajamas, without the bright fluorescent lights and towering aisles of gadgets and gear, I was actually having fun thinking about using these things with my little one.

While it was still super early, I even began adding things to a registry online. There was no way I was going to remember all the information later, and since I wouldn’t likely be sharing my choices for months, there was no stress; I could change mind at any time. By the final chapter I felt like I had a handle on the most important things I’d actually need, all things I had heard of and do know what to do with (in theory). Turns out a lot of the other stuff flooding the store shelves are niceties that most babies and parents don’t actually need. And while the logical part of my mind knew this, seeing it on paper was a major relief.

The Ghost of Baby-Yet-to-Come was far less scary with his hood off and realities exposed. I was not doomed to fail at motherhood because I had never seen an apparatus to suck snot with my mouth out of an infant’s nose. (Yeah, I know moms love these things, and I’ll probably be one of them some day, but really?) And for now it is enough to know I’ll need some bottles, and that there are many kinds out there if my little man turns out to be fussy about his favorite. I don’t need to stress before ever meeting him what kind that is.

So later this week I will once again venture into the baby super store. This time I’ll be ready and armed with a mostly completed registry, a dash of knowledge, some much needed perspective, and, most importantly, an experienced best friend or two. Bring it, Babies R Us!

If you have your own registering advice or stories, please share!


Photo credit: Kalinovsky