Our FAVORITE Holiday Tradition! (going on 23 years now)

Merry almost Christmas! So happy to be a part of this holiday blog hop! Thanks to the gals at BLOGS BY CHRISTIAN WOMEN for orchestrating this festive event!

I'm excited to tell you about our favorite holiday tradition!

It started over twenty years ago when our family was anonymously given 12 days of surprises over the holiday season. The daily gifts were small, but precious. The following year, we gave this 12 days adventure to someone else. We have been doing this every year since. The project has evolved and can be altered depending on the recipient. We typically choose an individual or family who's had a rough year, but gifts can be given to celebrate something great, like a new baby, as well.

Gifts can be anything, large or small, but over time, our gifts became more based on the lyrics of the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. This is when the fun really began! Four years ago, I started documenting the gifts because some were so "punny." We also include a homemade greeting card with each gift, which links the gift to that day's lyric, so recipients get a chuckle or two.

I'll share a few of our favorite gift ideas here, but the beauty of this adventure is the way it can change hearts. We received this gift in 1993, when our kids were 7, 13 and 16. From the first delivery - when our doorbell rang, but no one was on the doorstep, just a solitary fresh pear - our kids were hooked. They loved the daily surprises and repeatedly tried to catch the giver.

The following year, when we gave the 12 Days to friends, our kids loved being the "ring and run" deliverers. From then on, every December, our hearts turned from discussing what we all wanted from Santa towards choosing our "12 Days adventure" recipient. Our focus shifted to giving rather that getting. This is the miracle of The 12 Days Adventure.

Recipients are always moved by the project. Everyone we have given this to is so surprised and warmed by the fact that someone has thought about them for 12 days in a row during the craziest season of the year. I tell you, this gift spreads the love like nothing else.

So, onto some gift samples!
For Day 1 (a partridge in a pear tree), a simple pear works just fine. OR, create a partridge in a prayer tree with construction paper and art foam. Write scripture verses on the pears. Your giftee can hang it up year after year.

Day 2 (turtle doves): shape turtles out of pipe cleaners and 'o' shaped cereal. Loop on tree branches for the birds to enjoy during the winter season.

Day 3 (French hens): Three French fries - and some of their buddies! Make a simple tree ornament out of art foam by gluing strips of yellow between squares of another color. Punch a hole in the back square for an ornament hook.

Day 4 (calling birds): Play on the number 4 and create the four seasons! From cookie cutters, pie tins, and acrylic paint, cut out ornaments representing the four seasons. Tape a loop of fishing line or sturdy thread on the back for hanging.

Day 5 ( gold rings): for the man in the house, 5 rings of tape! Thread them onto a candy cane for a festive look.

Day 6 (geese-a-laying): play on the egg theme here and give six hard-boiled eggs! A fun homage to Dr. Seuss can be added as well.

Day 7 (swans-a-swimming): create seven beautiful origami swans from wrapping paper! There are easy instructions online.


Day 8 (maids-a-milking): how about 8 Milky Way candy bars? Of 8 packets of Swiss Miss cocoa?

Day 9 (ladies dancing): there are many movies with dance numbers in them; from the classic "Singing in the Rain" to "Mamma Mia!" with Meryl Streep. A DVD musical is just one idea for this day.


Day 10 (lords-a-leaping): how about 10 leaping reindeer? 10 sugar cookie cut-outs fit the bill!

Days 11 (pipers piping): Pipe jewelry! Rotini pasta looks like little pipes - dye dry pasta with a mixture of hand sanitizer and food coloring, and thread onto yarn or fishing line. 

Day 12 (drummers drumming): anything with drums! From cardboard, I created and colored a little drummer boy. For the head, I pasted on a photograph. Tape a paper clip on the back to create a hanging ornament.

If you are tired of and frazzled by the holiday chaos that accompanies Christmas (I was) and are looking for a way to create a different atmosphere in your home during the month of December, The 12 Days of Christmas Adventure is something you might want to try. It's a very hands-on way teach your children that Christmas is about giving, not consuming. It's a fun, sneaky, holiday project that we get excited about every year! (If you want more gift ideas for this project, check out this colorful, inexpensive ebook: THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE.)

I hope you are enjoying this holiday blog hop from BLOGS BY CHRISTIAN WOMEN! I love reading about how different families celebrate Christmas. We all have so much to share about how to celebrate the Christ child in new and wondrous ways! If you missed yesterday's holiday hop blogger, you can catch her post here: LOTTIE BROOKE. Try to catch all of these lovely holiday posts!

Thank you for visiting today. I pray you have a blessed and peaceful holiday season!


Elizabeth Spencer said...

So many fun ideas, Marianne! And so many sweet memories from the years gone by! I am a huge pun fan (can I say a "pundit"?!), so all this is right up my alley. :) So glad to have "met" you via the BCW blog tour. Praying the rest of your Christmas season is delightful in lots of surprising ways!

Wanda said...

Marianne, this is such fun and creative idea and how neat that you guys have been carrying on the tradition over 20 years. Hope you and your family enjoy a Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...

I love it! Simple pleasures...

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Such a wonderful tradition, I like to give to those who are less fortunate than I am

Andrea said...

Oh my gosh! I love this!!! Thanks for the ideas too for inspiration!

Joyce said...

I love this idea so much, and am filing it away for next year. Thanks for sharing!