Kit Kats. Snickers. M&M’s. The candy surrounds us all. Gobs of it. Bags of it. “Hidden” from view. But we all know where it is. We can smell it. My sleep deprived eyes yearn for it.
Have you had it with Halloween candy yet? I have.
Empty wrappers hidden in sock drawers. Under the bed. Behind the couch.
Little tiny voices begging for it daily “Just one (more) piece!”
And you cave, because that means you can have a piece too. Mom “halloween tax” they call it. Picking your battles is what I call it. Unfortunately candy usually wins. Sometimes minutes before dinner. Whining vs mom guilt. The struggle is real.
Enter the Advent Calendar.
My favorite memories growing up include opening the little cardboard numbered door and gobbling up cheap, drugstore chocolates for 25 days straight. It was a childhood highlight I couldn’t wait to share with my kids.
BUT do they really need me to buy them MORE candy, when we’re already swimming in it?
I first wrote about our homemade Advent calendars 2 years ago. For those who remember reading about this tradition, there’s been some slight changes.
For those unfamiliar with our Advent Stick, let me briefly explain.
When our youngest was 8 weeks old, my husband and I along with our 2 and 4 year old in tow, hopped a flight on Black Friday and headed to Costa Rica. I knew it was going to be my last maternity leave so why not make this time off epic. (although I hadn’t planned on breaking my foot 3 weeks into my maternity leave but that’s a different story).
My California cousins with their 3 kids had decided to hang up their rat race hats for a year, sell all their stuff, rent out their home and move to Costa Rica. Perfect timing! So away we flew to meet up with them.
It was during this trip that their kids who by then were acclimated into an International school with math taught in French, knowing limited Spanish and no french came home from school proudly showing off their Advent cones. 25 paper cones, brightly decorated hanging from a long thin tree branch, each cone holding a piece of candy.
I instantly fell in love with this idea and vowed to start my first family tradition with the Advent Stick.
However, like the amusing pictures of Pinterest crafts gone bad, that’s what I felt like those first 2 years of making 50 Advent cones. (Baby girl, now 3 will finally get her own this year but was unaware of daily candy last year so she missed out…proud mom moment for me.)
Unlike the idea in my head of Christmas music playing, laughing with my kids as we sat at the table decorating cones, bantering about in sweet mom/children conversation it looked something like a glitter glue war zone, scraps of paper littering the floor, only to be abandoned by my children after 8 cones were made…total. Which left this mom in charge of drawing out, cutting and decorating 42 more circles.
And like any perfectionist, wanna be Pinterest mom, holding tight to a Christmas tradition, by golly I was going to make 42 more cones!!
Thankfully with age, comes wisdom. (and real time memories!)
So THIS YEAR, the Advent Stick lives on, HOWEVER, each kid is in charge of only making 8 circles which they have all November to accomplish (and I do ONE…or finish anyone else’s). So instead of having their own cone, with their own candy, each cone will now contains 3 pieces of candy. Perfect!
And the BEST part about this Advent tradition, there’s now 75 LESS pieces of Halloween candy taunting all of us.
And to be honest, we still have a purchased on sale from Target wooden Christmas Advent tree with numbered doors, that another 75 smaller pieces of candy can go into, like 3 starbursts. (On another Pinterest note, I tried putting rolled up pieces of Acts of Kindness in those little doors last year, but that only lead to more fighting so again candy won.)
What I’ve noticed about the Advent calendar other than putting a significant dent in the Halloween stash (typically just the stuff no one likes is left, which gets tossed when no one is looking) is the considerable LESS whining regarding candy.
No more “mom can I have one more piece” before dinner. Or after dinner.
No more mom guilt when I say “Fine! But don’t tell your dad!” (you’d think HE was the dietitian)
It also creates this unspoken boundary for additional free for all calories from added sugar. The kids know their daily candy is in the Advent cone (and tree). If the cone or tree is empty, they ate it. After all, how many times have we had a piece of candy, or two, or three and lost count.