Holidays, Kids

Advent calendar season + St. Nick

It’s Advent calendar season.

As you probably are too, I am seeing a lot of things about advent calendars and advent season around right now.

It’s a lovely tradition.

I especially love the idea of doing something special every day leading up to Christmas, not just the “open a door and get a candy” variety. When the boys were little, one year I wrapped up ALL of our Christmas books, put them under the tree, and each night we opened one, and then read it. That was fun. It also was a lot of wrapping. lol.

I’ve seen other things, like, I don’t know- reading a certain Bible verse each day. Or doing a “kindness” advent calendar, where you commit a certain act of kindness each day (e.g. deliver a Christmas card to a neighbor. Call an old friend. Etc.) I know there are probably a zillion other ideas for families.

I haven’t really done much in that way, besides that one book year, I guess because I feel like we do a lot of other Christmas stuff, and I just don’t have the bandwidth for any more.

I do get the boys these VERY fancy advent calendars, though:

I think they are $2.99 at the drugstore?? Okay, and full disclosure, my mom actually bought these for the boys this year. So I spent $0 on the advent calendars. hahaha!

I know these are totally the most “basic” version of an advent calendar you can get. I mean, even the grocery store carries the Lindt truffle version, or the fancier Dove chocolates. But I like these! Because these were the ones that I always had as a child. With those little waxy chocolate figures inside, that taste….decent?

Call it nostalgia or whatever you will, but I have no desire to ever upgrade our advent calendars. #teamcheapadventcalendarforlife

St. Nick’s Day

Today was also St. Nick’s Day. I’ve learned over the years that this is not a widely or universally celebrated little mini-holiday, but, it was widely celebrated where I grew up. Basically, St. Nick comes on the night of the 5th and fills the stocking with candy or other little small gifts.

(As a result of this tradition, we do NOT fill stockings on Christmas itself! Christmas is only regular, wrapped presents, under the tree.)

I used to go a little more all out for St. Nick’s, or at least I’d buy some more interesting “gifts” to go in the stocking. I remember buying little matchbox cars, or a Christmas book, or a set of bouncy balls, or a Christmas DVD (before streaming was a thing).

Now, the boys still love this tradition, but St. Nick has become a little fatter and a little lazier. He mostly just brings candy now. lol. This year he did throw in some flavored ChapSticks. Last year I know he brought some fun colored mechanical pencils, etc.

But candy seems to be mostly sufficient for these 13 and 14 year olds. 🙂 It’s the tradition that counts, right?

(It is not lost on me that we still have HALLOWEEN candy sitting around somewhere in their bedrooms. I told you, they never eat it all.) But I usually pick out a few favorites for St. Nick’s, so this stuff is more guaranteed to get gobbled up. 😉

Does anyone do any fun Advent traditions?? I kind of like the idea of doing some kind of a personal Advent calendar, like reading something specific each day, or answering a certain writing prompt each day, or I don’t know… just something small to get me in the Christmas spirit. 🙂 Open to ideas.

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for: 1) my co-volunteer coordinator!! 2) tires on my car 3) school bus and school bus drivers.

12 thoughts on “Advent calendar season + St. Nick”

  1. We have had an Advent Calendar since 2020. I like the one we have. It’s a really cute one from Pottery Barn. The first year, Paul got some match box cars every 1-3 days. Then the last 2 years I’ve bought Christmas-themed books, but this will be the last year I will do that since we only need so many Christmas books. They do get read A TON so it feels like a good investment. But besides that, I just put some m&ms in the drawer and they are happy with that. I like the other specialty calendars, the puzzle ones or lego ones, etc. But I plan to kind of keep it simple. I like being able to control what they get/the cost. This year I had a gift certificate to bookshop.org so it didn’t end up costing me all that much!

    We’ve never celebrate St. Nick’s day, though! I’ve heard of shoes being filled with treats but we’ve never done anything.

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    1. I like your idea of sprinkling in a bigger gift every few days, unexpectedly! That would probably be super exciting! My boys would honestly still like that, lol! We actually did have a couple of the felt or fabric advent calendars with the little pouches but we never actually filled them. They were mostly just hung somewhere for decoration, since we used the chocolate ones. We had this one that hung in the kitchen when they were little shaped like a big Santa Claus that had a sensor inside, and you moved a little plastic like candy cane from one day to the next, and it would talk to you! It would say something for each day, like “Ho ho ho, December 12th! Only 12 more days til Christmas Eve! I hope you’re being good, now!” and stuff like that. It was VERY EXCITING. I think my mom might have sent it to my sister now for her kids? I don’t actually know what happened to it!

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      1. Oh that sounds so fun. Paul would love that! Paul loves to guess whether there will be a ‘pick a present’ slip in the drawer. Will is excited for the m&ms and kind of clueless about the rest. Ha. Although Paul did tell me yesterday that he doesn’t want books, he wants toys. I was like, sorry buddy, this is what we are doing.

        They will get to pick a present every day next week when we are in Mexico. I’m traveling now and I think Phil might reshuffle the slips to make sure they get something while I am gone. He asked if I had them getting a gift while I am gone and I said I had no clue. So this is a good month to have some extra stuff to look forward to with us being gone next week and me traveling again!

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  2. We have a wall hanging velcro advent calendar/nativity scene that my MIL gave us that my younger 2 still really enjoy… since my daughter was able to understand Christmas we’ve been doing one holiday related activity per day in December, and now she’s the one who organizes it all – some are big, but most are tiny things like ‘eat a candy cane’ or ‘wear a Christmas shirt’, ‘listen to a Christmas song’ etc. They still seem to really look forward to it each day! It IS very handy to have a Christmas-loving tween to help with all things holiday, that’s for sure 😛

    This year my MIL also has been sending the kids a message each day (to all her grandkids – there are 10 of them ranging in age from 2 to nearly 13 – my daughter) with a picture of her house with a gnome hidden and a riddle to solve. We’ll see if the kids maintain the enthusiasm…. I have had to remind them to do this each day which feels a bit tedious but I’m glad my MIL is doing it, it’s been a tough holiday season for her because my FIL has dementia and is not comprehending the holiday season anymore.

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    1. AWWW, what your MIL is doing is SO CUTE. I hope your kids humor her and stick with it, because I’m sure that brings her great joy. I’m sorry about your FIL…. ugh that must be so tough for your MIL (and the whole family). My mom’s side of the family has a long history of dementia, so I’ve been exposed to it a lot, but I honestly had never really thought about how sad it would be to first lose that connection to things like the holiday season or other special events.

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  3. This is only my second year with an advent calendar and I think it’s delightful to have something to look forward to every evening. Last year I did a Harry Potter Lego one and this year I’m doing a Harry Potter candy one. The Lego one was awesome. This candy one is…not worth the price I paid. LOL. I’m jealous of Nicole’s jigsaw puzzle of dogs wearing hats and someone else said they had a Reese’s one, so I’m already collecting ideas for next year!

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    1. I haven’t had my own advent calendar in years!! I think ever since I had the boys, we’ve just had the ones for them. But I can totally see the appeal to getting a fun one even as an adult. 🙂

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      1. One year I tried the Costco wine advent calendar, and while it was kind of fun, I just am not a daily wine drinker! HOWEVER, basically I just saved them and drank them when I wanted and I loved the size to just have for regular use!

        I’ve also heard of ones with cookies, flavors of tea, etc and those might be fun too!

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  4. St. Nick’s is a huge holiday in Germany. I grew up with it! 🙂 We put our shoes outside of the door (no stockings) and St. Nick comes and fills the shoes. He also “visits” sometimes to talk to kids about if they were “naughty or nice”. He had a “golden book” (maintained by my grandma LOL) and seemed to know everything about what you’ve been up to all year. I was always a little scared of him ( he was usually played by a family friend).

    I also love advent calendars. My sister and I just organized one for my bff from home (she’s very sick), so she’ll have a little package to open every day. It’s such a nice tradition for the holidays!

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    1. Yes, so the reason the St. Nick’s tradition was so big where I grew up is because we have a very big German heritage population in the town I grew up in (and surrounding areas). My Dad’s whole side of the family is also German- I know my great-grandparents were born there, and maybe even my grandma on that side- I can’t remember exactly when the lineage transferred to the U.S.! My maiden name is 100% German and I am sure you’d recognize it. 😉

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  5. We do Advent calendars. Some years I buy the kids more expensive ones (Kinder, this year), other years they get the “waxy” kind. I bought a “waxy” one for myself because I thought the simple act of opening up a door each day would be all the fun I needed. Nope – I really wanted nice chocolate. So I bought a Lindt one a few days after Advent started. It is DELICIOUS and it was only $5.99 since it was past the start of the season.

    My son also has a Harry Potter Lego Advent calendar, which he is loving; both kids have a sticker activity from a friend where you build the nativity scene with stickers over the month. It’s very sweet.

    And then we did Advent Affirmations this year; we fill out 24 slips of paper for each child with positive affirmations about things that make them special and they pick one out each day to read. It’s a GREAT way to start a day, especially since most of the slips are filled out by the kids; it does seem to offset sibling disagreements first thing in the morning.

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  6. i did advent calendar for the girls for two years. they had fun opening the box every night to either find candies, or a piece of paper telling them where to find the gift, or a fun activity (ice cream nice). This year I’m being lazy and not doing it with the excuse that our shipment has not arrived, thus the box is not here. Yet, we just got a small Christmas true so the girls are excited to light it up every day. It’s 5 years late but finally I feel like a small investment would make the girls happy, so why not.

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