Good morning, savvy savers! Happy Friday! So for Day 4 of this months No-Spend December Series, I want to share with you all another way in which my family will save over $200.00 this month, and that is with a planned Advent Calendar Schedule.
So, for those who may not know, Advent is the period preceding the Christmas season. It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and encompasses the next four Sundays as well.
Pulling from my early days of parochial school, I can tell you that the word advent, comes from Latin, means “the coming.” For over a millennium, Advent has been treated as a season, and has been a time of both spiritual reflection, as well as cheer, fun, and time with family and friends. While the overall Christmas season has become more secular-with advertisers urging holiday gift-givers to buy and buy some more-Advent still brings joy and the observance of old-fashion customs and traditions too!
As a child, each year we would always look forward to lighting candles in the Advent wreath, and we always used Advent calendars to count the days until Christmas.
Beyond this, here’s a little food for thought on the Advent season:
- Advent has been observed since the fourth century.
- Originally, it was a time when converts to Christianity readied themselves for baptism on Easter.
- During the Middle Ages, Advent lasted from November 11, the feast of St. Martin, until Christmas Day.
- Advent was considered a pre-Christmas season of Lent.
- The Orthodox Eastern Church observes a similar Lenten season, from November 15 until Christmas, rather than Advent.
- Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe, where deep winters called for holiday decorations of evergreen and candles; the evergreen and the circular shape symbolized ongoing life.
- By the sixteenth century, they were making Advent wreaths much as we know them today.
So, as times have evolved as have the Advent traditions. This leads me to introduce our tradition, the hanging Advent calendar.
So, why an advent calendar? An advent calendar is a card or poster with twenty-four small doors, hooks, clips, or fixings, one to be opened each day from December 1 until Christmas Eve. This popular tradition arose in Germany in the late 1800’s, which is based on the Hebrew Bible. In modern times, while considered a fun way of counting down the days until Christmas, many Advent calendars today have no religious content. Many stores, craft centers, and mass retailers display funky seasonal calendars alongside traditional Advent calendars depicting angels and biblical figures are those whose doors open to display teddy bears, pieces of chocolate, or photos of pop stars.
What makes the advent calendar special is that each door conceals a picture, scripture, or in our case, a scheduled outing or activity.
How our family will use this calendar (or in our case two strings of felted clips for $1.00 each from Dollar General strung above my coffee bar) to save money this December, is by listing family-centered activities, all of which are free or nearly free, which will stand as food-centered alternative to sugary-commercial calendars well. The calendar, which can be seen above, is placed up on November 30th each year, stands for the heart this season and seasons to come. In years past we would have allotted upwards of $200.00 for a season of activities, but since become more and more of a savvy saver we have switched our focus to more cost effective means to celebrate our season.
How our calendar is derived:
- Each Day a message, note, or photo is placed on the next hook letting everyone know what we will be doing that evening; I generally add notes the night before when setting up my coffee maker and tea pot on my coffee bar.
- Activities are found on our local chamber of commerce and city pages online, local newspaper, local Facebook pages, church bulletins, or from national advertised promotions.
- Ad-on items, such as going out for hot cocoa, has been budgeted in from rewards app like Swagbucks and iBotta.
- All remaining activities were pre-planned or involved already free activities.
- Activities are created to move our family away from commercialized ideals and towards the true meaning of the season.
- Twice during the season, my husband and I will utilize free photo credits from our CVS photo accounts to put up photos of the family days and outings in place of the advent schedule slips.
- Funds saved from this days activities will go into a fund at our local credit union on 1/3/16 to jump start Christmas funds for the following season.
Here’s what our schedule will (and has) look like:
Day 1: Making a list of what holiday books we will read each night (first half we had on hand, second half will come from library), and found a holiday scripture Bible Study for the Book of Luke, which Daniel will read aloud from each night this month; we followed this with cocoa at home on the coffee bar. Also, all Family trees, lights, and outdoor decor lit and photographed.
Day 2: Family Movie Marathon (ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas), Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, The Year Without Santa Clause, and The Polar Express, with DIY yogurt bar.
Day 3: My city’s annual Tree Lighting ceremony downtown; free hot coca and snacks were provided.
Day 4: Santa’s Christmas Factory Train Ride at our town’s Industrial Heritage Museum. Tickets free for kids and as Daniel teaches, my ticket comes from iBotta funds; free cider provided.
Day 5: Afternoon trip to library for the reading of Scrooge by local historian. In the evening, our town’s annual holiday parade. We will bring out own cocoa, chairs, and blankets.
Day 6: Family Movie Marathon (ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas), The Little Drummer Boy, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Nightmare Before Christmas, with DIY popcorn bar.
Day 7: Trip to pick out an Angel Tree recipient at local mall; cocoa bar at home.
Day 8: Family Holiday Music Party; diy music, dancing, and fun at home.
Day 9: Christmas Open House for local Wesley House; we will drop off free items and kids toys we’ve collected this year.
Day 10: Free outdoor light and laser show at local plantation home for kids; Daniel and I’s tickets come from Checkout51 check in October. Free Cocoa provided.
Day 11: Family Trip to see Local Christmas Lights in town; we bring cocoa and blankets with us.
Day 12: Morning Christmas festival at the Historic Temple Theater, and evening at the Highland Baptist Church Annual Singing Christmas Tree; tickets budgeted in from Mobisave savings in October and November.
Day 13: Bethlehem revisited; free living Nativity tour at local church. Free drinks provided.
Day 14: Family trip to library for remainder of holiday books, and trip to Books-a-Million for drinks; drinks budgeted in from free Books-a-Million card for getting membership and iBotta funds.
Day 15: Morning trip to return presents to Angel Tree; cocoa bar at home. Evening, pick out recipes to bake for Daniel’s Holiday Party at work and for Santa.
Day 16: Family Movie Marathon (ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas), Nester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and ELF, with DIY brownie bar bake.
Day 17: Capital Brass Christmas Concert at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church; free admission.
Day 18: Family Trip to see Local Christmas Lights in from several HOA-themed communities locally; we bring cocoa and blankets with us.
Day 19: Place out You’ve Been Jingled Baskets for Neighbors; will use free items from gift closet and pantry.
Day 20: Family caroling at home; we light up our back patio with LED icicle lights, light the fire pit, roast marshmallows, and sing Victorian hymnal and 40-50’s pop holiday music.
Day 21: Family Movie Marathon (ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas), Prancer, Frosty’s Shiny New Year, and Jack Frost, with DIY crock-pot cider and pumpkin bread bar.
Day 22: Cookies with Mrs. Claus; free admission at local Plantation home and tour, free cider and cookies provided.
Day 23: Trees of Christmas Tour with local historic Plantation home, Merrihope; tickets purchased with Snap by Groupon savings in September, October, and November from paypal.
Day 24: Make DIY appetizers, Virtual Christmas (Skype calls to family to virtually open gifts and see one another), reading of the Night Before Christmas, Cookies made for Santa, and watch It’s A Wonderful Life.
So, these measures help ensure that our family is just one step closer to not only enjoying a season of wholesome, affordable fun, but we are sending time together in the process.
Here’s to saving,
- December No-Spend Month Challenge Day 4: How We Will Save $200.00 This Month With Our Advent Calendar Schedule!
- December No-Spend Challenge Day 2: How To Create Your Holiday Budget!