Advent always kicks off at our house with a visit to Santa and Mrs. Clause. It was raining this year so we had to meet them indoors instead of in front of the giant outdoor fireplace we usually do, but I still feel like we are pretty lucky to have such an excellent experience. This is the third year in a row to see santa in this particular location. (and the same Santa and Mrs. Clause too)
All of that being said, the night before meeting Santa, I whipped out the Christmas folk pinafore Scarlett is wearing. I actually ordered the trim for it and the matching white clogs before my Small World/Around the World Christmas theme ever came about. I also made a little folk cap to match that I found in a vintage craft magazine I had purchased several months ago. The inspiration for the pattern is said to have come from the authors great-grandmother from Lillehammer Norway, and the original garment was made in the late 19th century.
I know there are many different ways to celebrate advent. We started doing our advent calendar about two years ago. It started out being mostly activities and crafts. The first year we wore ourselves out going to every Christmas activity I could find within a 30 mile radius. I was so burned out after two weeks that I decided to make it easier from now on and focus mostly on crafts and books. It still takes a lot of time and planning, but It's worth it because Scarlett loves it!
This years activities are focusing on the cultures and Christmas traditions of Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, and Norway. I was lucky enough to snag several books from the library that made my life so much easier.
Each book talks about traditional folklore, songs, decorations, and even foods from each country. One days advent activity is to read the book from that particular country, and the following 2-3 days are spent making crafts or recipes from the book.
The crafts are excellent. They are all fairly cheap, and use items you already have around the house. For example, these babushka dolls are made by doing paper mache on empty soup cans of various sizes, then painted. (also making it a two day activity....wahoo!!)
Of course every day of our advent is not cultural crafts. I did manage to buy a few kits from the craft store and wrap them up. It makes it a fun surprise for Scarlett to open them up, but I prefer the ones from the library books.
This is the advent tree my husband made for me a few years ago. It's not really anything unique, but it's sturdy and does the job of holding all the crafts we need for advent. (I'm about 99% sure it was a pinterest project). I know technically you're supposed to start at the bottom and count your way backwards, but it is easier for me to keep track of it by date and also keeps my child from sneaking things off the tree early. (which is a common thing for her to do) Closer to Christmas after we finish up reading about different cultures, we will finish up advent by talking about Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas as Christians.