Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Advent: New Family Holiday Tradition

I first read about the idea of a "book advent" Christmas countdown on Ali Edwards' blog earlier this year. I've always loved books and reading so I wanted to do this in our family, too. Then I promptly forgot about it until I saw Susan Weinroth post about it on Instagram a few days ago.  I needed details, and she put them on her blog.

It's easy - find 25 books and wrap them. Each night in December, through Christmas Day, you unwrap and read one (and maybe re-read some of the others). From what I can tell most people try to choose all holiday books, and build up their collection over time, filling in with library books in the meantime.  You definitely don't need to go out and buy 25 new books, though that sure would be fun, wouldn't it?

As soon as I read her post, I knew we had to do this.  I love the idea of an Advent calendar to build up the excitement of the holidays and have little tiny surprises to look forward to each day. However, I didn't want one full of candy, and the Lego ones seem overpriced for what you get.  We have tons of ornaments for our Christmas tree already, so adding 25 new ones didn't seem like a good idea either. The book idea is perfect.

I don't think we need 25 books about Christmas since we're not Christian, so I broadened the list to also include other winter holidays and winter itself, books about reading, books about giving and love, and a few family favorites.

The First 3: numbered, and with little hints/notes about each one.

I also had a few books set aside for T because she wasn't ready for them, so I've included those.  I know she'll love opening them, and she's really into counting right now, so tonight she was already looking for the book with the "1" on it, so she'd know where to start.

I combed through our books over the last few days and put the ones I wanted to use in a box in our closet.  I had to sneak some out of T's room when she was at preschool.  Three year olds ask a lot of questions. 

I chose two different rolls of gift wrap to make it look more interesting - one with cute winter birds and the other just a plain silver. Today I started wrapping, and man, was it slow.  I'm bad at gift wrapping, and sadly, the paper is cheap and tears really easily.  I've made a solemn resolution to no longer buy cheap Target gift wrap. Only the good stuff from now on. It's just too frustrating otherwise.

Gift wrapping and adhering the number tags is a great use for washi tape, since I have so much of it.  The patterned tape looks great on plain gift wrap, too. 

I have a ridiculous collection of number stickers so I used those for the number tags on each gift.  Of course, I don't have enough of any one sticker type to do all the numbers, so they'll be delightfully mismatched. It's what snooty people call "eclectic", right? 

I got 13 of them done while both girls napped today (omg! at the same time even!).  I'm waiting for Olive the Other Reindeer from Amazon, and need to order a second book, because I want the books on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to be new. I'll finish the rest this week.

Book Number One is one of my favorites, Owl Babies.  My plan is to have us all sit together in the living room, or in T's room before bed, and read. We need to start reading more to BabyM anyway, and I like the idea of us all snuggling together to read.

If you have recos for strong pretty gift wrap, please leave it in the comments.  The Target stuff is not working.  I also could use a recommendation for a great kid's book that's non-holiday related, suitable for preschoolers.  Something not well known would be great as we have most of the classics and popular ones. Thanks in advance!

23 comments:

  1. Love your idea for the Advent calendar. For good gift wrapping paper I would totally recommend Costco. Ikea would be the second in my list, not as good as Costco but decent. - Sangee

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  2. I love this idea and have heard it from others. I see holiday books in various secondhand stores (thrift shops, consignment/resale places) and have a hard time passing them up. As such, we have a wide variety of winter/holiday/Xmas books in our collection. I always toy with wrapping them up but can't bear to keep any of them away from the kids from Day One. (Thus, your idea to include non-holiday books is an awesome one.) I'll look through our collection tomorrow and see what jumps out as transferable from our House of Boys to your House of Girls. (Although, i shouldn't assume. Perhaps T is into trucks that decorate trees???)

    Are you familiar with Paperback Swap? That's another great place for books of all kinds, including holiday ones. And Once Sold Tales (http://www.oncesoldtales.com) has an outlet in downtown Kent (not too far from Southcenter) with a monthly book giveaway program for kids aged zero to 18. Even with out that, their books are super inexpensive. I haven't been in awhile but last year, i scored a new copy of _Olive the Other Reindeer_ and the I Spy Little Christmas board book, plus a few others.

    One of my faves is _The Best Christmas Pageant Ever_ - still have the copy from my childhood and i've started reading it to my 7.5-year-old. However, i'm noticing that the context is completely foreign to him as he's never been to church or Sunday School and has no idea what a Christmas Pageant is. Yet, i soldier on because i think there's enough of the book that transcends.

    We have a few board books that i'm thinking will be too young for us next year - i'll be sure to see if you would like them before i donate/sell.

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    1. ETA: Does T's school do the Scholastic book orders? I have a real weakness for those that i blame on childhood nostalgia. *wistful sigh* The good news is that each month, every flyer has a $1 deal - earlier this year, i got _Charlotte's Web_ (!!!) for a buck, plus a voucher for a free book later. AND it helped our school? Win win win win WIN.

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  3. What an amazing idea....might even mention that to the teachers in school as that could inspire loads of the children :) thank you.

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  4. My favourite gift wrap is brown craft paper (you could also use plain colours) and a contrasting ribbon. For Christmas, red or green :)

    http://www.the123blog.com/2012/11/handmade-christmas-gifts-and-frugal.html

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    1. Thank you! I just ordered some on another person's reco and yours!!

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  5. I love this idea! It has been on my "to do" list for the last 2 years but we don't have enough Christmas books and this year again....maybe after Christmas I can stock up on some!

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  6. What an amazingly adorable idea. Sometimes I really wish my kids were still little, and this is definitely one of those times!

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  7. What a fun idea!! I'm sharing this!

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  8. I have heard about this and I went to look at some books and got very over whelmed at finding 25! I love, love this idea though and you've inspired me to try again!

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    1. I don't think you need to force the issue of making them all holiday/winter books. More than half of ours were from the girls' existing books. If you expand to love, giving, or religious ones (if you're so inclined) you can get a lot more without having to buy so many. I only bought two new ones this year for the 24th and 25th.

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  9. This is a wonderful idea. I don't have any little ones left any more...does it work with jewelry too

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  10. Love love love this idea! I think I will use it next year. Have you seen this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Here-Comes-Frost-Kazuno-Kohara/dp/0312604467/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1354049672&sr=8-7&keywords=jack+frost+book

    We have it and it is a great winter book - I really like the graphics.

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    1. Thanks! Adding this one too, for next year!

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  11. This is such a great idea!! You can never have enough books.

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  12. This really is a fantastic idea! I think I'll hit the used book store.

    As for book suggestions, I haven't read it myself, but my next kiddie book purchase was going to be "Diary of a Worm" by Doreen Cronin. It has great reviews.

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  13. I have a friend who does something similar. She doesn't buy Christmas specific books, but like you more winter themed. In January she has a little "going away" party with her kids and they pack all the books up with their Christmas stuff. Then next year it's like new books all over, cuz the kids forget about them. As the kids have aged though she's shuffled in new books each year too to keep it interesting.

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    1. I LOVE this idea too and am totally stealing it. It also solves the issue of not having to read Christmas books in July because I left them in T's bookshelf. :)

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  14. Really cute idea! Definitely try the kraft shipping paper at Staples/Office Depot if you get a chance. It is super cheap and sturdier than Target wrapping paper.

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    1. Cool! We have a super-cool store called Packaging Specialties right near our house, and they have ordered a very nice roll of pinstripe kraft paper for me (I was there anyway!). Thanks for the idea!

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  15. Aw, this is a lovely idea! And such a great idea for families with little ones - everyone can enjoy it, it's so simple, and helps build the excitement. Love it!

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