The advent calendar is my favourite kids Christmas tradition. It's 24 days of squealing and jumping for joy in the lead up to the big day. Plus it's a great motivator for good behaviour (bad boys don't get their toys, LOL). And this year, I stepped up my game and partnered with TERRA Toys to fill up the calendar with fantastic life-like animal toys!
Each day the boys get to pull a toy from the calendar and they've been loving this tradition. The toys are the perfect palm-filling size, full of detail, and built to last. Every day they are SO STOKED to pick their next animal.
This is the third year we've done the advent calendar. Here are my lessons learned.
1. Definitely one of the same toy for each kid, each day
This year I filled the advent calendar with farm animals by TERRA (previous years I've used dinosaurs and sea creatures). Toys are available at Target in the US and Costco in Canada. I went Noah's ark style and got mostly two of the same toy, with a few surprises. Bad decision. Different toys leads to sharing problems and temper tantrums. Enough said.
2. Amp up the fun by adding a "home" for the toys
Since we did barnyard animals this year, we gifted the Terra Wooden Horse Barn at the start of the month and it's AMAZING. It's a wooden toy (love that) and has so many fun movable parts to keep little hands busy.
And the roof flips open (which is their favourite part (the boys close it up and say "night night, horsies").
It even comes with hay bales and water troughs for the horses. There's a lift to the hay loft, sliding barn doors and fences that all swing for great pretend play.
3. Hang the calendar high to prevent grabby hands
Like higher than you think. Otherwise, the advent calendar just turns into a mini toy buffet. I originally hung the advent calendar with one of those 3M sticky hooks but the weight of the toys couldn't hold it so I upgraded to a nail angled up hammered into a stud. Done.
4. Wrap the toys to avoid whining and negotiating
Last year I wrapped the toys individually before adding them to the calendar (you can see on my Insta here and here). This year, I'm back working full time after my second maternity leave and couldn't find the time to wrap 48 toys before December 1. Plus (*says to self*) how amazing do all the little animal heads look poking out of the pockets? Right? Wrong. Since they can see all the animals, my 3 year-old tries to negotiate which animal he can get every day. Ugh. Avoid it all. Wrap the toys.
5. Give the toy at the END of the each day
Delay the gratification by letting your kids receive the toy at the end of day. Why? Because then you can motivate good behaviour (aka, threaten) all day long with the promise of the toy. Boom.
My advent calendar is by Ferm Living but it's sold out everywhere. H&M came out with a look-a-like this year that I linked to under my Top Picks for Holiday Decor and in my Shop the Holidays, but it's sold out now too. Ferm Living came out with this beautiful grey one this year and it's still available.
Happy Christmas everyone! Hope your staying warm and enjoying the chaos and cheer!