Our Christmas countdown paper chain

Our Christmas Countdown Paper Chain

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 our Christmas countdown paper 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.

We start 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. We add simple ideas for each day and it really does make the whole month of December extra special.

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

Here are some of our favorite ideas we’ve used on our Christmas countdown paper chain! Most of the ideas are low-cost, low-hassle, big-fun!

Ideas for Your Christmas Countdown Paper Chain

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

3. Write a letter to Santa.
4. Christmas carol dance party. I used to have my boys learn a dance to a Christmas song. It was hilarious. Now, we love blasting our teen Christmas playlist.
5. Eat pomegranates. Even better if you have the time to make this easy pomegranate salad!  
6. Buy gifts for an Angel Tree or a Sub for Santa.
7. Drive around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights. We love giving an award to the house with the best lights!

8. Stamp Christmas cards.
9. Watch a Christmas movie.
10. Christmas craft.
11. Create a spiritual Christmas moment. Some years we just do a sweet thought or story about the true meaning of Christmas. Other years, we drive around to look at the neighborhood Christmas luminaries
12. Take Christmas treats to the policemen and firefighters in your hometown or organize everything to gift the 12 days of Christmas to somebody. 
13. Buy gifts for siblings dollar store gift exchange.

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. We encourage each person in the family to decide on a gift they will give to Jesus this year. We write out gift on a piece of paper and put them together in a box. We like to wrap the box and open it up on Christmas to read them all aloud.
19. Have each child write a sincere thank you note to their teacher to deliver with their Christmas present.
20. Read a Christmas story.

21. Play Christmas games or a favorite board game
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

More Christmas Traditions to Love

We love celebrating the Christmas season. We also love our annual marshmallow snowball fight, getting dressed up, staying in and reading during winter break, eating yummy food, and giving thoughtful gifts. Sometimes our traditions need a trim to keep us focused on the reason for the season. Other years, we have the time and energy to give and do more. What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? What low-cost, low-hassle idea are you adding to your Christmas countdown paper chain this year?