Advent is a special time of year for our family. We mark the coming of Christ each evening with the lighting of a candle and a blessing. But as important as those family traditions are, there’s a less religious tradition our children look forward to all year long: The advent calendar!!
Each day they open a small gift and count down the days to Christmas. It makes the wait to open the gifts under the tree a bit more bearable for the younger children, and increases the excitement of the whole family. There’s something truly magical about Advent!
But we’ve run into a coupe problems with advent countdowns in the past. The biggest problem is that few remade calendars exist. There are lego and playmobil, but this is the first year we’ve been able to find either suited to children 3 and under. Most of the time we can only find the big kid sets. The other problem is the cost. At $40 a set, it gets pretty pricey the more children you have. And then we’d be faced with duplicate sets. If your children are anything like mine, that would not go over well.
Last year we wrapped books instead. One book a day for 4 kiddos to share. 24 books total. This idea sounded great in theory, but when I began putting it together I quickly discovered one small problem. The cost!
Books are so expensive! Especially since we needed a few board books as well. So we couldn’t choose good books, but rather whatever cheap things we could find on sale or at second hand stores. We did manage one or two nice books, but most of them are already passed onto someone else because we didn’t like them enough to re-read them.
This year I wanted to try something a little different. We bought a large lego set, and divided it into 4 builds, then divided those builds into 24 days worth of smaller builds. 😀
It was really brilliant actually – and the set we got worked perfectly! (Yay for VIP points that nocked this price way down!)
We also added on a smaller build to make sure all 4 kiddos received a minifig. (excuse the poor pic quality, we were hiding in the worst room possible for pictures lol).
Ryan and I went through both sets and wrapped a few steps worth of each build for each kiddo per day. The castle is built in stages, where the top floor and the bottom floor could mostly be built simultaneously with only one small issue – a small cliff over hang connects the upper and lower floors – and that could easily be built last.
It also has a separate area that worked perfectly as another separate build, combined with the mini set we were able to give each kiddo something for each day. We rearranged the build order a few times to work with advent. We wanted to give something like a minifig or animal every week. When we did that, we labeled the bag a little differently to remind us what part of the build the pieces belong in.
Because of how we divided the builds up, we were easily able to cut the build steps out of the instruction booklet. The instructions are double sided, one set works for a couple days in many cases. If you’re someone who can’t cut the instruction booklets apart, never fear, all instructions are available online, you could easily print the specific instructions you need for the day. I didn’t want to take the time to do that though lol.
All total it took us about 2 hours to divide all the lego up and make sure each day and each child received a decent build or minifig.
It was so much fun to plan and I can hardly wait to see them start building! This will be their first ‘blind’ build – the first time they’ll build without knowing what they’re building. We did save the box, just in case lol.
Do you do anything different as an Advent calendar/countdown? Have you tried anything you loved, or something that really didn’t work for your family? I’d love to hear more ideas!