The countdown to Christmas really gets going on December 1st with the start of Advent.
The word Advent comes from the Latin, meaning coming. It is the season of preparation and symbolises the expectation and anticipation of the coming of the Lord, culminating in the celebration of His birth on Christmas Day.
While most Advent calendars start on December 1st, in the Church, Advent can often start at the beginning of November because it starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. That means that this year Advent starts on Sunday 27th November.
I suppose it's easier for Advent calendars to stick to the regular 1st December start date. I won't tell the children that they have potentially missed out on three chocolates this year!
And, to make it easier for you, I've compiled a list of my favourite Advent calendar ideas for this year (Disclaimer: this post features affiliate links):
- Ensuring my children understand the real meaning of Christmas is very important to me. We are Roman Catholics and the season of Christmas is a very important part of our faith. And while I don't want to deny them the sheer excitement that comes with opening a door of an Advent calendar and getting something, I also want to remind them of the importance of giving. This year, I'll be helping them to make an Advent kindness calendar. We'll write a list of 24 ideas of how they can be kind or helpful and place them in a fabric 'fillable' Advent calendar we bought years ago from a market in Lanzarote and then, each morning, they can pick out their Act of Kindness and try to carry it out that day. This is a similar Hanging Felt Santa Father Christmas Advent Calendar if you want something that you can re-use every year.
- Another idea that highlights that this is the season of goodwill is the Reverse Advent Calendar, which fellow blogger Mum In The Madhouse featured on her blog last year.
- For a more chocolatey take on reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas, try The Real Advent Calendar by The Meaningful Chocolate Company (85g chocolate). I buy this for my husband, who is not religious. He enjoys the chocolate and I enjoy the fact that he can share the Nativity story by sharing the 28-page Christmas story activity book with the children.
- If your family are football fans, you will have no doubt come across the Match Attax football trading cards. Elliot is an avid collector and has already reminded us several times that he would very much like to extend his collection with the EPL Match Attax 2016/17 Advent Calendar. Behind the doors are 120 Match Attax cards, including a limited edition Gold Jack Wilshere card.
- Beatrix is really into her Lego at the moment and has her heart set on this LEGO Friends 41131 Advent Calendar. We've had Lego Advent calendars for the past couple of years and the children have really enjoyed building a scene and adding the various Lego models and characters to it as the month progresses.
- At the moment, Wilfred says he is not fussed by toys calendar and he just wants a Darth Vader chocolate one, like this Star Wars (Episode VII The Force Awakens) Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar 2015 (Toys Inc).
- Of course, if the older children are getting collectables in their Advent calendar, the younger boys are going to want something to play with too. Luckily, VTech have come up trumps with the Toot-Toot Drivers Advent Calendar. We already have the garage and the airport and they are played with constantly, so I know this will be perfect for them and provide them with hours of fun.
- Advent is also known as the season of light as we prepare to welcome the light of the world with the birth of Jesus. What better way to celebrate this than with an Advent candle. This Traditional Festive Christmas Advent Countdown Taper Candle is a lovely way to count down the days to Christmas. Simply light it each day and then blow it out when you reach the next marker. While the candle is lit, you can talk to your children about the meaning of Christmas, pray or meditate. We started the tradition of lighting an Advent candle last year. Read about it here.