Countdown to Christmas: Family Holiday Book Activity

We love the *idea* of the Advent calendar. Though we're spiritual, we're not doing anything to do with the season of Advent in the religious realm--for lack of our own knowledge and experience! We do want to do some kind of fun count down until Christmas though. So we decided with very young kids that we'd do a book time countdown.

25 Holiday or Winter Themed Books - Sources

You'll want to start working on this a little ahead of time. It's not terribly difficult to find 25 titles that are holiday-themed, BUT if you want to find secondhand books or neat vintage titles, you'll need more time. I use our schools "book orders" from Scholastic Book Clubs to get some of the newest, eye-catching titles (especially if they are in the $1-$2 range, since we do not pay shipping with that program.)

Amazon will get you almost anything you'd like -- I ordered "Secrets of Winter" -- an Usborne book that was (at the time) out of stock. I found it overseas and had it in a reasonable amount of time for the same price or less than my consultant listed it for -- I also didn't have a guarantee it would be back in print by Christmas, so I wasn't taking any chances!

I love perusing second hand stores. It's part of my greenie personality I suppose, but all of those books with no homes... It's like the Island of Misfit Toys! But books! I've found some pristine copies of books by Jan Brett (usually a family favorite), some truly nostalgic vintage titles -- such as The Sweet Smell of Christmas (a childhood fave!) I've heard this book has had a new reprint and can be found at Walmart, but holding an original copy is fantastic! (Though the smells are almost all gone...) My best thrifty find was Merry Christmas Curious George. I got a hardcover copy for $2.00 at a thrift store and was just about to check out the day before from Amazon with the title for over $15!

Another option that we love is getting a personalized book each year. I See Me! books has many options for holiday giving. There is something about a child being a part of the story makes them so excited! My son's eyes light up when he hears his name, the names of family members and pets, and has all of those details intertwined into a classic like 'Twas the Night Before Christmas or even a fun new story about their own Christmas fun. Not just for the Christmas season, you can get books for your little princess or pirate with their own name in several different storylines with details like their pets, family and other fun personal touches that really make the story special!

Though you could do this with JUST a Christmas theme, we do more of a winter/holiday theme. The first book that is always opened each year is Turkey Claus -- to sort of blend the transition from Thanksgiving to the holiday season. We added to our reading fun this year a great wintry title by Angela Muse called The Christmas Owl. It's a great story about the goodwill of the season with a winterscape and nature-loving touch. Beautiful rhyming words and illustrations paint an amazing story for kids of all ages that adults will love to read.

A cultural theme is also a great option for this activity.

25 Days of Christmas Books in Action

So to make this work, simply wrap 25 holiday-themed books (or more -- we put one or two books in one wrapped package if they are particularly short reads). Label them 1-25 and open them on the corresponding night each day in December. I keep a list, just so I know when long stories are on deck to prepare enough time for bedtime story time. We love this idea since the kids NEVER bug us about gifts under the tree -- they are getting to unwrap something each day. We use newspaper when we have it around, to reuse paper material. We have one tote that at the end of each holiday season we pack up with all of the books and put away for the next year. This way the kids aren't reading them a dozen times each month and they are more special come December! We usually dig out the tote and decide if we want to replace any titles with a different option. This is a fun time to schedule a book swap with other friends and get and give books, get the kids together, and have coffee with other moms!

Some of Our Favorites

Turkey Claus
Baby Kermit's Christmas
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Olive the Other Reindeer
The Christmas Owl
Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
The Christmas Cats
Santa Cat
A Very Marley Christmas
Bear Stays Up For Christmas
The Tomten
The Tomten's Christmas Porridge
12 Days of Yule
Christmas at Grandma's
Secrets of Winter
Christmas Bear
A Christmas Wish for Corduroy 
The Pups Save Christmas!
Merry Christmas, Splat!
Snowy Day
Merry Christmas, Curious George!
The Sweet Smell of Christmas
'Twas the Night Before Christmas
The Dinosaur's Night Before Christmas
The Christmas Wish
The Wild Christmas Reindeer

Disclosure: One or more books in this post were complimentary copies that we received to facilitate this article and enjoy for our our Christmas countdown activity. All opinions are my own.


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