November 29, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar (With Free Printable Advent Cards)

Every year since my kiddos were toddlers, we have done what we dubbed "The 12 Days of Christmas Kindness".  We did 12 days of service projects together as a family to help get us in the spirit of Christmas and to help combat the inevitable "gimmes" that the kids get around the holiday. When they were really little, they loved doing this.  It was really fun for them.  We got into a routine and usually ended up doing roughly the same 12 activities every year for many years.  Like tradition.  For some reason, though, that tradition did not grow well with the children as they got older.  They are no longer anywhere near toddler age (they are now ranging in age from 7-12) and the last couple of years, our Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness was DREADED by all.

Last year every single activity we did ended in tears by at least one kid and/or me. It made me angry that my kids couldn't muster up a few hours in the month of December to be good givers of their time.  I took it personally and really got down that they were creating a mutiny over doing service projects, FOR THE LOVE. By the time Christmas rolled around we all had bad attitudes.  Something had to change.

A few weeks ago I brought up Christmas Kindness at the dinner table and Scarlett (who is coming up on her third Christmas with our family) said, "What is Christmas Kindness? I don't know what you are talking about!"  Yep- it had become such an unmeaningful thing to us that she didn't even know it was happening.

I thought that maybe it was time to hang up the tradition.  But honestly, I still see the value in it, so I didn't want to can it completely.  I decided that this year we are just going to shake it up a bit.  We have never done an advent calendar in our house.  I like the idea of the anticipation and ritual of an advent calendar.  And I like the idea of daily random acts of kindness.  So I decided that the right thing for our family this year was to marry the two- A RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS ADVENT CALENDAR.

Most of the activities this year focus on things we can do for others by being intentional with our words and our attitudes.  In a house full of mostly tweens, dear 8 pound 6 ounce infant baby Jesus take the wheel with the attitudes (and the eye rolling and the sighing) I may very well need this reminder as much or more than my children, though.  My hope is that this year that these activities will help us get our attitudes in line and that it will bring a general feeling of peace in our hearts leading up to Christmas.

Here's the thing.  I have fabulous, thoughtful kids. They are amazing.  But they are humans and all of us humans sometimes need to be reminded to be kinder, gentler humans.  Christmas Kindness started as a way to take back Christmas- and we still need that.  And the world still needs more goodness put into it... so here we go.

My kids are actually pumped to be doing the Random Acts of Kindness Calendar this year.  They are looking forward to picking a card everyday.  The cards are all in envelopes so the activities feel a little like a gift to unwrap.  There is excitement and anticipation around the whole thing again which already feels like a victory.

Just in case anyone wants to do your own version of our Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar, I've made the daily activities available as a free printable for you.  They print perfectly on Avery standard business cards or you can just print on regular paper and cut apart. (unclick "fit to page" before printing if you print on business cards)

For our advent calendar, I used an old wooden Coke crate that I had. It has exactly 24 spaces in it. (This is how I know Jesus loves me- how awesome is it when things work out like that!)

I printed out our 24 random acts of kindness and put them in small gift card envelopes that I found at Michael's for about $9 for 24.  I put an envelope in each hole and put number stickers counting down the days of advent on each one.  If you don't have any suitable kind of box to put the envelopes in, you could just tape them to the fridge or hang them from a ribbon on the mantle with clothespins or any other number of creative ways you could display them.  You could wrap an old kleenex box with wrapping paper and put all the cards inside and randomly pull one out each day.  It does not need to be fancy or complicated.

Each card has an activity and a Bible verse to look up and read.  When you are organizing what activity you should do on certain days, keep in mind that some may be easier to do on the weekends, some would be better for school days, etc.  A few of the activities will require some materials- like sidewalk chalk and quarters or birdseed.  There are also some blank cards to make up your own activities.

I'm so excited about our new way of doing Christmas Kindness.  I'm trying not to have expectations that are too high over it- because as we all know, expectation is the thief of all things good.  It may be awesome.  It may get old after a few days.  But either way, it's something we can do together as a family for the Christmas season... and that's what it's all about.  

From my people to yours- happy kindness spreading this Christmas season!

Us on Thanksgiving 2015

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