Saturday, December 1, 2012

Making Time | To Celebrate the Holidays

As a student paying my own way through college, I've been forced to learn a thing or two about time management. It's always a struggle to balance work, classes, homework, activities, and time for friends & family. Even with a busy schedule though, I have found that I must always make time for certain things - things like eating well, exercising, and relaxing. Though I've learned a few things that work well for me, I know that my advice might not work for everyone and so, over the next few weeks, on Saturdays, I will be hosting a series called "Making Time". With holiday season approaching (quickly!), balancing a busy schedule is bound to become even more difficult and so, I thought now would be the perfect time for a few friends of mine to tell you about their own balancing acts. If you have a topic that you think would fit into the series, please let me know - I'd love to feature your contributions!

It's hard to believe that today already marks the first of December. We've gotten a head start on Christmas, though. The stockings are hung. Christmas ornaments decorate Trevor's cactus. There are pinecones on the mantle. And our tree is even put up (without decorations, that is).

I know that I promised a post on exercising this week but as things would have it, Trevor and I couldn't find the time for taking pictures. There's something strange about walking around the gym with a camera when it's terribly crowded. And, I refused to photograph him working out in his pajamas.

Money isn't plentiful for this year's Christmas budget, though, so I've been trying to find creative ways to celebrate the season with Trevor. One of my ideas was to do a fun Christmas or winter activity together every day. Not only is this an affordable way to celebrate but it also gives us a reason to spend time together, despite my growing pile of homework and Trevor's love of Facebook. (Just kidding, babe. Sort of.) For busy families and students, finding time to do the little holiday things can be a challenge. This countdown provides quick activities and also didn't take much time to make. It also keeps us accountable - it would seem awfully silly to flip each card other and then spend the day ignoring it.

I'm also hoping that this might bring many posts your way as I plan to share most of our activities here as the month goes along.

While there are many different options around Pinterest and the blog world for Advent Calendars (I personally have my eyes on this one for next year), today is the first of December and you don't have much time to spare. So, this DIY is one made with materials we already had in the house and chances are, you do too. (Though the links in this post will provide you with some other more in-depth options if you'd like to store treats for each day.)

Unfortunately, I was up making our countdown at midnight and so I didn't grab photos of each step. That being said, it's fairly easy to follow along. While this isn't the most in depth advent calendar tutorial, it provided some fun winter color to our house without needing to leave the house or purchase any materials.

You'll need:
  • 3 patterned sheets of 8x10 paper - you can use scrapbooking paper of your choice or you can print some from an online source. For mine, I chose three printed papers from this DIY from Oh Happy Day
  • 3 sheets of colored card stock (8 x 10, as well) 
  • optionally, you could print the patterned paper onto white card stock and skip the step of gluing
  • printable address labels
  • these printed numbered flags, once again found through Oh Happy Day
  • 6 feet of twine, ribbon, or thin garland
  • 24 mini clothes-pins (if you don't have this, festive colored paper clips or mini binder clips will do)
  • scissors and a paper cutter, if you have one
  • glue
  • optional: a corner rounder

The Steps:

1. Glue your patterned paper to the card stock, let dry for a few minutes.

2. While the glue is drying, cut out the numbered flags. You won't need the "twenty five" flag.

3. If using the patterned paper from Oh Happy Day, cut off the white edges and black bar.

4. Cut each page into 8 equally sized cards - I approximated and they turned out just fine. If you have a paper cutter, I suggest using it for this step

5. Round the corners of each card if you'd like.

6. Arrange the cards in order by alternating the patterns.

7. Glue the paper flags onto the cards.

8. While the glue dries, print a list of 24 Christmas activities onto printable address labels. If you need help thinking of ideas, start with a search for local activities. For instance, one of our neighboring towns is having a Christmas stroll, parade and tree lighting tonight. You may also find local productions of the nutcracker or free movie showings. Other activities on our list include multiple christmas movie favorites, driving around town to see the Christmas lights, and baking cookies together. While I'd love to share our list with you - Trevor reads this and I don't want to ruin the surprise for him. 

9. Attach the activities to the back of each card. I highly suggest writing down the dates you want to do each event. For example, baking cookies shouldn't be a Wednesday night activity if you work during the week. Plus, some activities - like a Christmas parade - only happen on a certain date. You'll want to make sure to label them in order with flag twenty-four aligning with December 1st. This allows you to countdown how many days are left until Christmas.

10. Using the mini-clothespins, hang the cards on the twine from twenty-four to one. Then, hang your finished garland in a spot where it can easily be accessed. 

So tell me, do you use an advent calendar to get ready for Christmas? a countdown? or perhaps you celebrate the twelve days of Christmas with little gifts? I'd love to find some new holiday traditions.

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