Countdown to Christmas: Fabulously Festive Advent Ideas

Yes, it's December! 

It's the countdown to Christmas!

I don't know about your children, but Natty could quite happily sit and watch Singing Hands Christmas Cracker 2  for hours on end and listens to the CD in the car on a loop. Wonderful as this is, we try to bring some balance to December as well!

There's a lot of chat about the beginning of December being too early to put up decorations, about the Elf on the Shelf being creepy, about Xmas consumerism taking over the whole of the month. I think that each family is different and you must find what suits yours and simply don't allow it to become something that you don't feel comfortable with. 
Just do it your way.

Natty's fabulously festive advent ideas to get you ready for Christmas

Our youngest daughter Natty has Down's syndrome, and is a very visual learner. I think the sheer variety of fabulous sensory and interactive activities available in the lead up to Christmas are the perfect way to teach kinesthetic learners about the cutures, traditions and religious stories that their community shares as well as the differences in seasons. Of course children with SEN have different learning style and your child may find too much sensory material overloads their senses and they become overwhelmed. You will adapt what you do for their needs.

This year is perhaps the first that Natty is showing a real understanding of what is to come as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and give thanks for the abundant food and the loving family around us. She is playing Mary in her class Nativity play, has had fun during school Elf Day and is enjoying reading a different Christmas story each bedtime. 

So Natty is very excited for what is to come and I find that using a variety of methods to count down the days is really helping her level of understanding and improve her speech. 

1 Create Christmas Crafts together

I've made a promise to clear December of too much writing, and instead to enjoy making and baking with the girls. We've been trying new crafts such as making these effective recycled Xmas catalogue paper chains, all of which is fabulous for developing fine motor skills. You can find other exciting ideas over at the Twinkl and Makaton sites, although you might be hard pressed to do a different activity a day.

Get the children involved in decorating the house too, in little bite-sized bursts. We've been dotting things around for weeks now. Some children like to help with every stage, others (like my two) adore some surprises, like a few ourdoor lights. We managed to get these reindeer positioned in the garden before they came home from school.
Ta da!

2 Elf on the shelf

I had never heard of this little guy, until last year. We don't use him as bribery for good behaviour, and yes, his suit is a little cheap and you might not like his gaze. If I were cleverer I might even crochet him a cousin. But for us he is a reason for the whole family to leap into action each morning to play a little festive game of Elf hide and seek.

3 Free online Makaton advent calendar

Get the whole family learning new Makaton sign language and encourage vocabulary development throughout the month with this free online advent calendar, featuring a different video clip each day. We were asked to take part which was super exciting! We have to get up a bit earlier now though because Natty wants to watch each day's film every morning. When we get to 18 that might take a while...

4 Colour in a numbered Poster

Again, if I were more artistic I'd have drawn this myself on a section of wallpaper. As it happened it was a beautiful advent gift from Grandma. Each day the girls find and colour in a different section of a Chritmas tree. Great for pencil grip control, team work and sharing skills *ahem*. 

5 Open a good old fashioned Advent Calendar

Children really don't need a gift every day and neither do I want them to expect one, and after the girls' Godmother bought them 2 simple traditional card calendars we noticed they were just as excited to open the window and find a picture of a gingerbread man, as they were to find a chocolate or a small toy. 

6 Read some of your favourite festive books together

I love The Empty Stocking but the girls favour Father Christmas Needs a Wee (not sure why ...) Hope over to our festive Pinterest boards for more craft, book and decoartion ideas. 

7 Put on a Nativity Play with Makaton Signs

Everyone loves a Nativity play, and what better than one that includes all children.

You might also like to read A Christmas Angel with Down syndrome depicted in a Flemish painting or A Nativity Star


  1. My little boy looks forward to opening his advent calendar each morning, we haven't done any craft but hoping to before Christmas. Hope Natty and her sister have a wonderful Christmas! :) x

  2. Hayley, what a beautiful round up, I feel it has been a little sad that some people have been negative about their christmas time choices. I am please to hear that yours are in full swing and the girls are having a super time with it.

    Thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments

    P.s Merry Christmas (i can now its past the first) x


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