I know we haven’t even finished with Thanksgiving yet, but with it falling so late this year, I had to think ahead for Christmas! One of my favorite Christmas traditions that we have been doing for the last 5 years is a Christmas Advent Chain.

There are beautiful options for advent calendars on Pinterest, but in keeping with my philosophy that traditions have to be fun and simple enough for the mom to not only want to continue but to be able to enjoy with her family, we scale ours way back.

We do the traditional 25 link paper chain, and on each circle we write one Christmas activity that we will do that day. It may sound like a lot, but we keep things simple and it helps us enjoy our favorite month of the year instead of letting it fly by.

The way we start is by pulling up our calendar for December and anything that is already happening (church Christmas party, choir concert, specific city festivities) is written in on its correct date. After those, we fill in any big special events we want to attend (think city sponsored Christmas events, Christmas plays, etc.) after we pencil in those items we are usually only left with a a handful of days to fill in, but the chain really does make each day of December special.

Each morning at breakfast, the kids take one circle off our chain and we all look forward to something special that night.

If you are looking for a few easy and fun ideas to fill your chain, here are some of our favorites from the last few years.

20 Low-Cost, Low-Hassle Ideas to make December Extra Special

1. Buy and decorate a tree.
2. Decorate the house.

3. Write a letter to Santa.
4. Christmas carol dance party (I make my boys learn a dance to a Christmas song. It is hilarious. Otherwise you can just put them on loudly and dance as a family.).
5. Eat pomegranates.
6. Buy gifts for an Angel Tree or a Sub for Santa.
7. Drive around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights.

8. Stamp Christmas cards.
9. Watch a Christmas movie.
10. Christmas craft.
11. Create a spiritual Christmas moment (a sweet thought or story about the true meaning of Christmas).
12. Take Christmas treats to the policemen and firefighters in your hometown.
13. Buy gifts for siblings at the dollar store (they each take $1 for each sibling and find something fun).

14.  Place quarters in candy machines at the mall, then stick around to watch the surprised faces.
15. Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy canes.
16. Make holiday goodies for our neighbors.
17. Make gingerbread houses
18. Wrap a gift for Jesus (let each person in the family decide on a gift they will give to Jesus this year. We put them together and wrap them up and open them up on Christmas to read them aloud.)
19. Have each child write a sincere thank you note to his or her teacher to deliver with their Christmas present.
20. Read a Christmas story.

21. Play Christmas games.
22. Sing carols at a nursing home (this takes some planning and is best with a few families together).


19. Visit Santa.
20. Open new Christmas pajamas