Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Advent Gift Guide - 33 ideas for secret gifts

Last week we showed you some beautiful advent calendars and since then we have had lots of requests from all of you for ideas for what to put inside, and if you are like us you won't want to fill them with things easily forgotten or easily lost. You'll want something that lasts: a tradition to begin, to revisit each year or a day spent together that will never be forgotten.

Though I love the countdown to Christmas I don't feel it needs to have you searching for a further 24 gifts! Sometimes the best thing inside is a special something to do. So, here's a list of ideas we've put together to help you fill your advent with special treats and surprises, new traditions and inexpensive gift ideas.

1 A notebook to record the childrens very own countdown to Christmas. Write it as a diary of all the getting ready for the big day. Include pictures and used tickets for a fun memento as well as a good keeping busy book.

2 A good book from a charity shop. Look out for book sales at libraries too.

3 Tickets for fun things to do: a day at their favourite museum, a Christmas fairground or festive craft day.

4 Edible treats especially for weekend days. Sometimes a chocolate really is just the thing.

5 A ball of string leading to a basket..... go out for a walk and fill the basket with pine cones, fallen berries and any natural treasures you can then use to make a centre piece for the Christmas table. We love pine cones sprinkled with glitter, with mini pom poms or felt balls glued on.

6 Christmas decorations to hang on the tree. This is a great tradition to start where each year each child is given a new decoration to hang.

7 Cookie cutters or pretty cupcake cases with a recipe to bake together for that day. Or perhaps an invitation to make mince pies. I have such fond memories of making mince pies with my mama.

8 Hair ties or hair clips.... my girls can never have enough!

9 Badges.

10 Print out a colouring page or a dot to dot. Mr Printable always has great to do projects here

11 Paper chains are a great activity and kids love their instant cheerfulness

12 Temporary tattoos, though perhaps save these until later in the advent when there is no school !

13 A treat certificate easily drawn on paper offering a hot chocolate or cake from their favourite place

14 A CD of Christmas songs.

15 A 'you're in charge' certificate! Or perhaps a better phrased 'you choose what we do today' voucher (for those who are brave enough to give it).

16 A ticket for a late night drive, bus ride, or walk around the city to look at the festive lights. We do this every year and it really is so magical. The girls always fall asleep on the way home and I imagine their heads full of happiness and wonder as we carry them upstairs to bed.      

17 A pack of Christmas cards to write and send to friends. Or, better still a few craft materials for them to make their own.

18 A trip to go Ice -Skating written as an invitation.

19 Theatre or cinema tickets (look out for weekend early morning specials for the cinema for £1)

20 Home made playdough ....add glitter to red coloured playdough for a nice surprise

21 Small inexpensive gifts, like notepads, a pack of cards, marbles, bells, rubber stamps, pens and pencils, bouncy balls and bookmarks make great gifts for very little.

22 Go see carolers hold a hot chocolate in hand and feel the atmosphere warm you up. Make it a tradition each year, meet with friends, drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and sing under the stars.

23 Make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows

24 Hyacinth bulbs make a wonderful gift that will last. Plant them in Hyacinth vases and watch them grow and blossom over the coming weeks.

25 Multiple day items, ok perhaps this is a little like cheating but it's a good way of dividing a extra special something like a puzzle divided over a series of days, or lego, or a matrioksa doll.

26 The first clue in a treasure hunt which can lead to a gift, perhaps on Christmas eve. The build up to the big day can be so overwhelming giving one special gift from under the tree is a lovely tradition especially if they have to hunt for it.

27 A lantern made from an empty tin can with holes cut out or a jam jar painted with a candle inside to celebrate solstice.

28 A trip to see Father Christmas. You could write it as a personal invitation or a voucher. If you're children are a little too shy  to see the big man himself (one of mine is) perhaps spend some time to send him a letter instead.

29. A sprig of mistletoe to hang, ready to surprise mummy or daddy with a kiss!

30. A Christmas joke - that will trigger lots of new made-up ones or old favourites: Who hides in a bakery at Christmas? A Mince Spy!

31An empty bag - to fill with things to give away as a donation to a local charity or children's hospital ward. Let your child feel that they can directly help another child at Christmas.

32. Christmas Stamps.  I always get excited about the Christmas stamps issued each year and I fondly remember my trips to the Post Office to receive the First Day Covers.  The Christmas designs this year are by the wonderful illustrator Axel Scheffler of Gruffalo fame!

33. A copy of The Night Before Christmas to read and re-read each year on Christmas Eve.  It's magical every time.

We hope you all have fun counting down the days

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