Advent is a special season built on anticipation - for Christians it's when we remember how long the world waited for our Savior, as we (in microcosm) now eagerly await the celebration of his birth. I loved advent calendars as a kid -- doing the countdown to Christmas was that much more special having a calendar to watch and a little daily treat (usually chocolate) to enjoy.
These days, advent calendars can be found in a wide range of prices and qualities - some can be had at a dollar store, while others can be purchased from high end chocolatiers, and feature very high quality chocolate.
As for us and our IKEA special, I enjoyed both the idea of knowing exactly what ingredients went into the treats and the ability to add a something more than just chocolate to those cute compartments - a little toy or ornament, perhaps, that my oldest could enjoy finding. It allowed me to customize the calendar exactly for my 4 year old's attention span and interest levels. In our house, we'll read a bit of scripture while opening our daily countdown drawer as well, which I hope adds to our sense of anticipation as we celebrate Christ's arrival as Emmanuel - "God with us".
Some strategies for this project:
- I'll be using minimuffin cup liners to separate the treat from the toy inside each compartment. (Mine are silicone but disposable would work equally well.)
- I'll be using the dollar store and the dollar section at Target for toy resources. (This project is also another great reason to surf the Target dollar section's seasonal stuff just after a holiday expires to get little fun items for pennies on the dollar.)
- Lest you think I've already completely filled the calendar's compartments, nope! I'm only about three days out right now. My plan is to go in 3-4 day chunks of filling the drawers, which will hopefully be a doable pace. Maybe next year I'll have the benefit of experience on this and be more ahead of the game. ;-)
- The treats will be varied in their real food content. Some might include dairy, or nuts, or eggs - and some small amounts of sugar in the form of high quality dark chocolate. The treats will all be gluten-free, however. If your household doesn't eat one or more of those ingredients and you're still hoping to fill an advent calendar of your own, then feel free to adapt or come up with treats that are better suited to your family's dietary restrictions instead!
To see all of my Real Food Advent Calendar 2011 posts, click here.
Are you and your family doing advent calendars this year? How do you celebrate the countdown to Christmas?