Each December, like so many families around the globe, the Lutz family counts down the 25 days before Christmas with an Advent calendar. For the past few years, we have added a fun twist to this beautiful tradition. Along with our conventional calendar with its daily verse and piece of candy for each child, we create an annual Advent calendar out of great Christmas books.
Several years ago, my friends Bethany & Joanna suggested wrapping and reading Christmas books as part of the Advent tradition. I was immediately captured by the idea. I especially love how it combines family time, tradition, and good books. Not to mention the nice touch it adds to my living room!
A few years ago, I started with a handful of books we loved and checked the rest out of the library. I’ve been honing my Christmas book list ever since. With input from friends who share my passion for good children's literature and with recommendations from Amazon and Goodreads, I’ve created a working list and continue to add new titles each year.
Of course, our book collection evolves as the kids get older. When my kids were in pre-school, we went with simpler books, but as they grow, I am adding longer books with more involved themes.
I love stories that evoke a sense of the season and generosity. Books such as Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco and Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon that weave history and people together are my personal favorites. I also look for stories that instill hope with beautiful prose and tales of people overcoming obstacles, like The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck. Familiar classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Nutcracker, and The Night Before Christmas are must haves for any Christmas collection.
Check out my Goodreads account for a complete list of books that my kids can’t wait to unwrap year after year and read together as a family. Also, if you have favorite Christmas books that you love to read with your family, please share. I’m always looking for new holiday book ideas!
Tips and Materials
Always a believer in blending beautiful design with function and economy, I try to coordinate wrapping paper and ribbons that I have on hand with my family room décor for a festive, unified look.
Here are the materials I use:
25 holiday books
festive wrapping paper
ribbon and twine
For this calendar, I chose rolls of paper with complementary designs. I used classic Christmas colors red and white, and added some black and earth tones to match our decor. After wrapping the books, I numbered them using number stickers and chalkboard tags.
Once the books are wrapped, I store them in a wooden crate next to the Christmas tree. With cups of hot chocolate and our verse of the day, the tradition of celebrating Advent with a calendar made from books brings our family closer together and adds excitement to our annual Christmas countdown!