Yesterday, I shared our Advent Book Calendar with you, and today I wanted to share some suggestions on how to fill a more traditional Advent calendar, such as the DIY I posted about last week, or this beautiful hand embroidered one made for me my my mum over 30 years ago!
My elder son has now inherited my old calendar, and my mum has embroidered another one for his younger brother. As much as I love all the creative ideas out there, I also love the fact that I don’t need to worry about making a new calendar each year, just about filling them. And because it doesn’t have pockets, I’m not limited by what I can put in it as I can tie almost any shape and size of package to those rings, I just need to watch the overall weight.
Since this time of year is already heavy on sweet things, I’ve tried to steer away from too many sweeties. I still had a packet of Cadbury’s chocolate buttons I picked up on a trip to the UK this year, and if I’m short of things for any days I’ll fill those with mini gummybear bags, but other than that I’ve managed to collect enough non edible little gifts. So here are the things that will be going in to my six year old’s calendar:
- mini tubs play dough with shape cutters
- a magic towel
- a mini rubber duck
- a small Lego set
- a little picture viewer in the shape of a TV
- one of those little puzzles where you need to get the beads in to the holes
- a solar powered dancing Santa
- a bath bomb
- a kaleidoscope
- a wind-up ladybird
- an audio book
- a Matchbox car
- a pirate neckerchief
Having learned from the grandmaster of Advent Calendar filling (a.k.a. my mum), I had been collecting little gifts throughout the year, so that I didn’t have to do a mad dash to the shops this week. I just have a box at the back of my wardrobe where I throw things in when I find them, and then come November I take stock. I’d even collected enough to stretch to stocking fillers too – another thing I can tick off the list! So, these are the kinds of things you could put in a calendar, and if you need some tips on *where* to go looking, here is where I got them all: The play dough tubs, magic towels, dancing Santa, kaleidoscope and stamps are from Flying Tiger Copenhagen, the mini shape cutters are from Hema; the bath bomb I picked up at a local organic supermarket; the picture viewer, puzzle and wind-up ladybird are from local toy and stationery stores; the audio book and Matchbox car are from Lidl (you know how they always have different discount products every week); the pirate neckerchief is from the gift shop of the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam; the rubber duck is a freebie from a trade fair; and the Lego set was a free gift we received through the Lego VIP club, which I immediately squirreled away for the calendar!
The calendar fillings for my two year old don’t look much different. When my eldest was two, I filled his calendar with fruit bars, raisin boxes, mini board books and some toddler toys. With his younger brother, I knew this would be fairly futile as it’s pretty much a given he will want whatever his older brother is having. I got him an audio book aimed at younger kids (age 2+) and Lego Duplo instead of regular Lego, but everything else is pretty much the same, just in different colours or with different motifs. So some of these things – such as the bath bomb, the dancing toy, or the Matchbox car, come with a warning as not recommended for children under 3. But he already plays with his brother’s Matchbox cars anyway, we’ll supervise him at bathtime to make sure he doesn’t try to eat the bathbomb, and if he’s going to break the dancing toy it’s better he breaks his own one. This does not mean I advocate ignoring age warnings on toys! I’m just saying it depends on your kids, and you are the one who knows your kids best.
So, now I just need to find the time to wrap these all and hang them up on the calendars! How about you? Are you making Advent calendars this year? Do you have any other great suggestions on what to include for kids?