Turning a chore into an adventure
A calm and creative countdown to Christmas - 24 nature play & craft activities

All I want for Christmas is a good dose of calm

I'm refusing to get caught up in the chaos and commercialisation that typically accompanies Christmas. Instead I’m aiming to slow down and embrace "less is more". There’ll be less rushing around and more time with family.

Leaf advent calendar Little eco footrprints

My first step in distancing ourselves from the commercialisation of Christmas is our advent calendar.

Our calendar won’t be fancy or purchased. Nor will there be any toys or chocolates to mark each day. Instead I’m continuing a tradition of using fallen leaves to create a natural advent calendar. Each number will correspond to a quick nature play or craft activity that we’ll do as a family. 

It will be our third year of using such a calendar. My daughter races out each morning, grabs a leaf, and begs me to read the activity for the day. Activities are mostly quick and simple and can be completed using items we already have. This year activities include building a robot out of rubbish, painting a picture using flowers and leaves instead of paint brushes, and floating paper boats.

Next I’ll tackle gifts. I get overwhelmed at all the gifts my daughter receives at Christmas. I’m sure she does too. I’ve watched her move from unwrapping one gift to the next without pausing to register what she has just unwrapped. I’ve also seen her struggle to decide which new toy to play with, only to give up and play with a box or wrapping paper. You may be familiar with this scene. 

We give our daughter only two gifts. One gift from us and one gift from Santa. As she gets older we might introduce the rhyme ‘something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read.’

I also want to avoid the food waste typically seen at Christmas. We’re not going to use Christmas as an excuse to be extravagant. Our Christmas meal will be simple, local and fresh.

We’ll also be trying to apply the idea of ‘less is more’ to other aspects of Christmas including travel and Christmas parties.

Could your Christmas benefit from a little ‘less is more’?

[This column appeared in The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 24 November 2012]