December beckons and with it comes a daily rise in excitement amongst children all over the world, anticipating relaxed family times and – of course - the arrival of Father Christmas!
We’ve put together a little selection of meaningful and inspiring activities to try out with your charges during Advent. As always we would love to know what your favourite games and crafts are for this time of year, so do tweet us @StJamesNannies or post on our Facebook page so that we can share the Christmas magic with the rest of the community.
Letters to Santa:
If your household celebrates Christmas and welcomes Father Christmas every year, there are ways to ensure a response letter from the old man if you know where to address your letters to. Our favourite way to arrange a letter from Santa is through the NSPCC, who for a small donation will send out a personalised letter to your little ones which can include little details about their specific interests and hobbies. If you are in the UK, the Royal Mail can also arrange for response letters from Father Christmas if his letter is received in Lapland by Friday 9th December. Write to him at Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ, and as long as you include a full name and address in their letter, you should receive a letter back from him before the big day.
Reverse Advent Calendar:
Your charges are sure to be showered in gifts this holiday season, but this simple activity teaches the very important message of generosity and kindness at Christmas. Checking with parents first, fill a basket, cardboard shoebox or carrier bag with one cupboard or bathroom item (plus small toys or gifts if collecting for children) for every day of Advent. On Christmas Eve, boxes can be donated to your local food bank of homeless shelter. Search online for local Christmas shoebox appeals to you, or start your collections earlier if you want to send a shoebox abroad for a child at Christmas.
Advent ‘Acts of Kindness’:
An advent of daily good deeds is another great way to inspire and educate charges about the ‘act of kindness’ – especially around Christmas! For each day, prepare little foldable envelopes and encase 24 daily ‘Acts of Kindness’/Good deeds inside. Once all the envelopes are filled, reveal them day by day or thread/peg each envelope to string and display them against the wall.
From ‘offering someone to go before you in a queue’ or ‘holding the door for people at school’ to ‘completing a chore without being asked’ – there are lots of simple little gestures that could be included! For ideas or for a ‘download pack,’ see this link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/205548904/acts-of-kindness-printable-advent
Lunch Box Jokes:
Lighten up their school lunchtimes by slipping a little Christmas joke into their lunchbox for every day of Advent. Research online and put together a pictured grid of silly, seasonal jokes for you to print off and divide up for individual use. Or if you’re feeling creative, make your own! Ho ho ho!
Christmas Bedtime Stories:
Lastly, and our favourite here at NSJ, is a Christmas Book Advent countdown! No unnecessary sugary treats and something easy to sustain without too much expectation, this advent countdown gives bedtime stories a special Christmas twist! Choose a mixture of 24 books that could either be read to or by your charges – simply wrap the books up and then let them unwrap one to read each night! If you like this idea, it’s not too late to do! You can always include a few non-Christmas books, borrow some from friends, dig around charity shops… or even just do 12 days of Christmas.
If using numbered tags, a fun addition is to write a Christmas-based activity on the reverse side as a little something ‘extra.’ This can be done last minute depending on your busy Christmas Schedule and include activities like ‘Have a hot chocolate under the Xmas Tree,’ ‘Call Grandma and sing her a Christmas Carol,’ or ‘go and see some Christmas lights.’
(Image: From the original Christmas Book Advent Calendar post at Babycinno Kids’ blog: Image copyright babycinnokids.com/blog)
We think that the best Christmas activities for children offer a mixture of yuletide fun and something a little more meaningful. The way you mark the festive season with your families will depend entirely on the values of your employers and how Christmas is observed within their own community and culture, so always run your Advent ideas past the parents first if you’re ever unsure as to how they might want their children to mark the occasion.