This year we have two ways to prepare ourselves and wait for Christmas. I have already written a post about a Book Advent Calendar, and now I'll share with you the activities we'll be doing in the next couple of weeks week by week. Here are the first 6 days:
This Tchibo Advent Calendar that I managed to get a few years ago hides small presents and an activity card every day. Most of the time the cards are written in English so we can spend a little time doing something in the second language on a daily basis apart from the books we read.
Sometimes we have simple instructions in the calendar, like "Clean your boots and put them out in the window for St. Nicolas". Or we decorate our home together and the ornaments are in the calendar. (They often cannot fit in the pocket so I put them near the calendar and E. can find them easily) In these case, there are no crafts.
Here is the list of activities for Days 1-6:
- Cardboard candy cane (Day 1)
painting sticking the cotton wool on our door
What I prepared beforehand:
- 3 cardboard cut-outs
- red paint
- little cotton wool balls
We painted the candy cane cardboards red and let them dry (on the radiator).
We glued lines on the candy cane and stuck on the cotton wool to make it stripy. When we finished we displayed them on our door.
- Decorating E.'s window with flashing snowflake ornaments (Day 2)
On one of our Christmas shopping we bought 2 snowflakes that have little batteries and if you turn them on they have flashing led lights (I didn't realise the colours are red and blue - so they are a bit strange, but E. loved them at first sight anyway). You can attach them to the window with suction-cups.
Every evening E. asks us to turn them on.
- Write a letter to Santa + Santa counting cards with festive peg + hair bobbles and clip present (Day 3)
First, she didn't want to write a letter to Santa (St. Nicolas) so played with the cards. She loved the tiny pegs with Santa, mittens and boots on them. She counted and clipped and counted and clipped. I made the printable myself, and you can download it at the end of the post.
- Gingerbread dough making (with a recipe) (Day 4)
Last year I found a really good gingerbread recipe on bebeangol.hu. It's easy to make, smells wonderful, and stays soft.
So on the 4 December (before the next day's gingerbread party) we prepared the dough with E. So many people were coming we needed to make two batches. E.'s enthusiasm lasted only for one.
It was rather messy with lots of ingredients and measuring I couldn't take photos.
Here is the recipe in English:
For the dough:
- 500 g white flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- grated zest of an orange (the colourful part of the peel)
- grated zest of a lemon
- 1 egg + 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons of freshly pressed orange
- 130 g honey
- 100 g butter
- 150 g sugar (powder)
- 1 tablespoon of gingerbread spice
For the decoration (optional):
- 1 or 2 egg's white
- about 150 g sugar powder
Put the honey, butter and sugar into a pot and heat it up until they melt. Let them cool (on the balcony or in the window sill, while you are making the rest of the dough)
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking soda, gingerbread spice, grated lemon and orange zest, then add the whole egg and the two egg yolks. (Put the whites in the fridge, you can use it for the decoration). Mix in 2 tablespoonfuls of freshly pressed orange and finally the cool mixture of honey+butter+sugar. Mix them all together with a hand mixer (dough hooks on). In the very end I knead it a little to make it stick together.
Wrap the dough in cling film and place it in the fridge for 6-8 hours. (The best is if you can prepare it the day before baking and the dough can rest the whole night in the fridge. If you're pushed for time, it is OK if it rests in the fridge only for a few hours. (I've tried it and it worked the same)
When you're ready to bake, take the dough out and knead it a bit on a board covered with a thin layer of flour (also add flour to your rolling pin).
Then roll the dough 3-4 mm thin and use your cookie cutters to cut out the shapes. Put them on baking paper on a tray and bake them for 8-10 minutes in the oven that you've preheated at 180 Celsius degrees.
Let it cool down and decorate it with the whisked mixture of sugar powder and egg whites (whisk them until they are hard and fill them in a plastic bag. Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and push the white stuff out on your gingerbread) or with other decorations (nuts, almonds, sugar sprinkles, hearts or beads etc.) We always use the Dr. Oetker edible decorations.
- Clean your boots and put them out in the window for St. Nicolas (Day 5)
As in Hungary St. Nicolas (Santa) brings presents on the night of 5 December, children need to clean their boots and put them out in the window so St. Nicolas can fill them up with goodies and presents.
And then in the morning (6 Dec):
- Santa craft from paper plate (Day 6)
On the 6 December E.'s Godparents and God-sisters came to visit. So we did this advent activity together. They were more than happy to take part.
(By the way, I saw this Santa paper plate craft activity on Pinterest but after some rethinking I changed it a bit.)
* paper plate
* red construction paper/foam sheet
* googly eyes
* red pompom
* white cosmetic cotton wool balls
What you need to do:
I prepared the hats out of the red cardboard in advance and drew a line on the top of the paper plate where the kids could cut along.
First, stick on the hat, then add the googly eyes, the pompom nose. You can use any kind of glue you have at home. For smaller kids (about age 2 or younger) you can pre-draw the places of the eyes and nose and mouth).
Next, with a crayon or marker you can draw the mouth.
To finish with, you can add the cotton balls on the tip of the hat and along the head line. If you have a lot of cotton balls the sticking can go on the beard too.
There was an extra special activity with Daddy at bath time: tea lights were lit and placed around the bathroom and the tub and they were blowing bubbles while bathing. It was so much fun... unfortunately I couldn't take photos in the dark and I preferred to watch how they enjoyed the bath :)
More activities are to come!