Last year I wrote a post about trying out a holiday book advent calendar with my son, who at the time was 20 months. It was an idea that I hadn’t seen or paid attention to prior to having kids, but fell in love with after little man arrived. It was a huge hit with both of us—he loved opening a present every night, and I loved reading different holiday-themed stories each night. Needless to say, it was a no-brainer to do it again this year—although I did add a bit of a twist.
I started with the bin of books I put away from last year. I weaned out the true baby books and some I just didn’t particularly like. To replace those, I went a little nuts on Amazon creating a list of potential new books for this year. Under Christmas stories for toddlers I searched for his interests…er, obsessions: dinosaurs, anything Disney Junior, Paw Patrol, Give a Mouse a Cookie, lift-the-flap, and scratch and sniff books. Then I added a few classics like Snowmen at Christmas and Bear Stays Up for Christmas. We had been gifted The Polar Express this summer to cover the train obsession, as well as the books-to-make-mom-cry category. (Seriously, I sobbed during my first reading of that one!)
A few flash sales later (and one email to his grandmother with a link my wish list) and bingo, I had more than the 25 books needed to fill out the month. This weekend I wrapped them all, combining a few sets, and leaving the Gaga (his name for gramma) books at her house to be opened and read with her on Fridays when they’re together all day.
Last year I stacked the books and let him choose a book randomly from the pile. This year I put them in a plastic bin loosely ordered to assure the newer books will be opened early, so we can enjoy them all month.
December 1st falling on a Saturday this year, I also chose a special book to be opened first, Christmas Cookie Day, and along with it a small present I found on sale, the Melissa and Doug Christmas Cookie set. If all goes well, I’ll let him open both after nap and we can bake a batch of real cookies together to eat while we read the first of many holiday books!
The only other change I’m making to our holiday book advent calendar this year is adding an element to try to teach my little guy about giving, not just receiving. Our thankful turkey and focus on gratitude this month left me looking for ways to continue teaching and modeling positive qualities. I made a “Give, Make, Help” list of 25 things to do, with the idea that before we open a gift from the book pile each night, he’d first do something nice for someone else. I kept everything pretty simple, age-appropriate, and, with only a few exceptions, mostly things we can do right at home, such as help feed the cat or clean up toys, make a card or picture for someone, or give hugs or kisses. I’m sure it won’t be flawless, but it’s a small way of beginning to teach him that the holidays are about caring for others, and gifts are only one way we show that.
Frankly, I’d prefer snuggles and books with my boy to any present.
Happy Holidays and happy reading!
For those looking to add some new stories to their own holiday list this year, here are some affiliate links to some of the books in my little guy’s advent book calendar this year.