I had the idea to make this Christmas countdown calendar last year, and had it almost put together, but with the disappointment of Jeb not being home in time and the girls not really being old enough to appreciate it, I didn't end up finishing it.
This year, I finished it and got it all glued onto the frame I made. I used bean/vegetable cans and wrapped them in wrapping paper. Then I cut out a Christmas tree shape from cardboard and hot glued them on. It looked so cute! I even got a little star for the top.
It was so cute for a whole day, then the cats knocked it off the shelf and a bunch of the cans ripped off and scattered :( So now it's the horizontal Christmas countdown calendar, or as my kids have started calling it, the Christmas Cans.
I've been trying to be budget friendly, not spending a lot of money on it, so most of the countdown activities have been simple things like 'lets watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn!' or 'lets make Christmas cookies!' or thoughtful, 'lets make cards to send to soldiers'. But other times have been more adventurous, like 'lets go to the Lego exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum', and the one Jeb is still talking about, the day we spent the day in Frankenmuth. The message in the Christmas can said 'go look under your pillow!' and we put $5 under each of their pillows to spend at Frankenmuth.
On Christmas Eve, the very last can contained the first clue for their treasure hunt, which is another post :)
It was a really fun tradition and one we plan on continuing. Next year I think I'd like to do more service project type things, like sending cards to soldiers that we did this year. The kids really enjoyed it, and in general enjoy doing things to help others. It will take a little more planning on my part, but it would be a great way to combine a fun tradition with helping others, and driving home the true meaning of Christmas.