The Advent Calendar

advent

Something I decided to do this year that was different than any other Christmas I’ve ever had was to create an Advent calendar.  This one pictured above is from Lovely Things.

Using this picture as an inspiration, I took a few of my favorite elements in this picture and created a tablescape in my living room, but with a little more worldly flair.

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You’ll see elements of Venice, Italy (the mask), Indonesia (statue), and Morocco (wooden camels to the far left).  I liked the candy in glass jars look, so I added a couple of mason jars filled with candy.  The books that line the wall?  They’re either red, green, or gold.

My colors this year are red, green, gold, silver, white and shades of Tiffany blue. 

Since I have never done an advent calendar before (I didn’t even know what it was), I did some research and created something for home to make the season a little brighter.  I bought a bunch of paper lunch bags (like in the inspiration photo), wrote a number 1-25 on it (in French style numbers), tied a blue ribbon around them and placed them all in very large tote bags I received from Saks Fifth Avenue a few years ago.  One bag was in teal blue, the other was in red (which matches the holiday decor). 

What did I put inside each paper bag?

1.  Words to Meditate On.  On decorative note paper, I wrote down 25 different words to reflect upon as I meditated.  Simple words like Joy, Kindness, Peace, Happiness, and Love were written down in calligraphy using a red marker.  After I finished all 25, I folded them up, mixed them up and put one in each bag.

2.  Something To Do.  Sure, we all have holiday cards to do, cookies to bake, parties to attend, cookie swaps to prepare for, gifts to donate, etc.  Well, my calendar was starting to fill up with things I needed to do and would like to do this month before Christmas.  I pulled out a calendar and wrote down on a colorful index card what I needed to do as I mapped out my month. 

Everything from doing Christmas cards, to mailing them, to shopping for Sandy victims, to Christmas parties, to seeing the Grinch on Broadway…I needed to calendar every event, as well as prepare for things like baking cookies for the cookie swap or going shopping for Christmas dinner (which means I would need to come up with a list of what I’m making).

After marking the event and dropping the card in each bag, I went through my DVD collection and picked out all of my Christmas themed movies.  I took a look at ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas movie guide and planned my Christmas movie marathons.  Tonight, I’ll be watching Love Actually…one of my favorite romantic Christmas comedies. 

At the library, I picked up the old version of Miracle on 34th Street along with Fred Claus and Last Holiday (starring Queen Latifah going to one of my favorite countries in the world…the Czech Republic). 

I planned my movies accordingly and either dropped the movie into the paper bag or wrote down on an index card the movie, the channel and the time it would be on or the event, play, or concert I planned on attending.  Then I dropped the card into the bag.

For each bag there are a total of three things: a Meditation Word, an event and a To Do. 

What’s really keeping me in the spirit while I’m out and about? 

I downloaded Bing Crosby’s Christmas hits…and he has many of them.  I also downloaded Now That’s What I Call Christmas 4 which is a lot of fun and includes one of my favorites from the “Love Actually” soundtrack: “All I Want for Christmas.”

The things I can’t wait to do this month all involve shopping (of course!).  There’s a local store in my neighborhood that specializes in some of the most beautiful home stuff I’ve ever seen.  In December it becomes a haven for Christmas lovers.  There’s so much beautiful stuff in her store…you never know what to pick.  One of my 25 Days of Advent includes building up my Christmas decorations for the first time.  I’m budgeting $100 and picking out a few luxurious ornaments and other Christmas things that I find in this store that I want to become holiday heirlooms.

The weekend before Christmas, I’ll be going on a shopping spree in Home Goods.  They always have so many different ideas that I would love to try…I just never know what to get when I’m in the store.  Everything always looks amazing.  I’m not going to tell you my budget for Home Goods…I’ll just say it’s a nice one.  This winter I’m trying to recreate this look:

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I saw this in Elle Decor and fell in love with the colors and the worldly look to it.  It’s a mix of Asian meets Moroccan.  I want to do something similar in my office.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find what I need in Home Goods to pull this off.

As for the rest of the holidays, that means crafting!

trees

Crystallized Christmas Trees from Better Homes & Gardens.

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Or how about this gift wrap?  Seems elaborate, right?  That’s real greenery.  You can also find the how to in the link above (slideshow) to Better Homes & Gardens.

Christmas in NYC also means visiting the elaborate store fronts throughout the city…all up and down 5th Avenue.  There’s always my favorite…the Pond at Bryant Park which also features holiday shops all throughout the Park.  Then, of course, there’s the tree at Rockefeller Center…they’re all on my Advent list of things to do.

The whole purpose of creating an Advent Calendar this year is all about creating new Christmas traditions.  From baking cookies to discovering holiday music to shopping for new ornaments and decorations that will create a new holiday heritage…this Christmas is all about learning and adopting traditions across the world. 

That’s why I’m having a worldly Christmas this year.  Each country I’ve visited over the last 10 years is represented throughout my home…it’s nice learning about their holiday traditions and incorporating them into mine. 

What holiday traditions do you have that you don’t mind passing along to this relative newbie that’s creating a new Christmas tradition?

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