The Big Countdown!

Welcome to Black Friday – the official start of the Christmas buying season!

Now that you have plenty of turkey leftovers for dinner tonight, you can spend more hours at the mall shopping – or not.  I hate the Black Friday crowds, so I’ll do my shopping later -and probably a good portion on the internet at that.

No matter how you shop, you might want to consider adding an advent calendar to your purchases to make the season a little more festive.

I remember as a kid my mother used to bring home an advent calendar.  Each day as you counted down to Christmas, you’d get to open a little cardboard window to see a Christmas related picture inside.  The really cool advent calendars had chocolates or little prizes behind those cardboard windows, but not ours – just a little picture.  Still, it was fun and helped us to visually see the days left until Christmas.

Now that I’m older, I’ve discovered advent calendars can be for adults as well as kids.  I thought I’d share a few here as you prepare for your big countdown.

I love this.  If you look closely, you’ll see red numbers from 1 to 25 scattered about the box.  Each number represents a cardboard window.  Punch the window open and you’ll find a “wee dram” of whisky – a different one for every day leading up to Christmas.  One of those days will reveal a one ounce bottle of 50 year old scotch.  My husband sent me the link to this gem as he knows I’ve been researching Scotch and distilleries for my next book.  Have a question about any of those terms?  I’m your girl.

Now the calendar is a little pricey as calendars go, but if you’re interested – here’s the link:

Last year Christine Brooke sent out an advent calendar from Jacquie Lawson.  I absolutely loved it with the joy of a child on Christmas morning.  The calendar itself was a wintry London scene.  Each new day when you to digitally decorate a tree, or decorate cookies, or watch cuddly musical bears play Christmas carols, or design snowflakes – all on the computer, of course.  The scene was even lit according to the time of day.  If we opened the card at night, the London sky was dark and the windows in the houses had a soft glow.  Open the card in the daytime and people would be strolling in front of busy London shops.  Very cool – and very reasonably priced!  I’m not certain the demo will run on the blog (sorry – I’m techno deficient) but to learn more about Jacquie Lawson advent calendars, and see the actual demo – click on the link.

Martha Stewart has some ideas for homemade advent calendars.  This is only one of several.  I like that it can go on the fridge – the classic repository for all holiday decorations. 🙂 If you’re crafty or just need an activity to keep the kids occupied, check out this link.

For the overly stressed, I thought you might like the bubble-wrap advent calendar.  You get to pop a bubble every day till Christmas (though I’d probably toss the thing on the floor and pop all the bubbles at once.  Can’t stop at just one).  Not for pet owners.


In my search for unique advent calendars, I found this – a lego Star Wars advent calendar with one scary looking Santa Claus figure.   Sorry, couldn’t actually upload an image.  If you’re interested, check the link:

And finally – here’s a free online advent calendar for you.  The website won’t allow peeking so you’ll have to save the site till December 2nd (I wonder why it doesn’t start on the first?  hmmm).  Still – there’s always the fun of anticipation.  🙂

 No matter how you count it down, wishing you all the best this holiday season!  As a bit of a thank you, I’m planning to choose a name off the “likes” on my facebook fan page on November 25 to win a rare copy of  THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY.  But that’s only a couple of days away so, if you haven’t done so already, hop over and like the page.  Here’s a link:

How about you?  Did you used to have an advent calendar when you were little?  What kind?  Do you have a special way to count down the holidays?  I’ll give someone who leaves a comment the gift of a Jacquie Lawson advent calendar.  🙂   Let the countdown begin!




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  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit me?

    Have Fun

    • Barb says:

      will be up for a cuppa Helen, make sure he saves me a tim tam lol

    • Yes – looks like you have company for the day, Helen. He’s anxious to get out of the states because with the Black Friday craziness – he’s afraid someone will buy him thinking he’s a pet!

      I pity the fool who’d put the GR in a box and place him under a tree with breakable ornaments 🙂

  • Helen says:


    It is warming up here in Oz and I have made 5 Christmas Cakes already still 2 more to go and the pudding LOL. I haven’t started the shopping yet that will be next weekend I so want to get everything done and not stressed this year I don’t have any time off work so I need to keep busy.

    As a child we didn’t have advent calanders but I always got my kids one and they had to share they would take it in turns and these ones had chocolate behind them and I bought 6 of them today one for each grandchild they are most dissappointed because they have to wait till next Saturday before they can start opening LOL. till they get the chocolate.

    I do love the sound of the whiskey one and I am soo looking forward to reading this new book.

    Have Fun
    Jayden and Hayley are sleeping tonight so the GR will keep them busy

    • LOL – Yes the waiting is the key. What kind of picture is on the front of your calendars? Is it religious or cute? I’ve seen both.

      I saw an advent calendar in a catalogue yesterday that is also a music box with characters that move when a calendar door is opened – sort of like the Munich glockenspiel. The calendar is a permanent that you can refill every year with chocolate or tiny ornaments – but it costs a ton! I’ll go with the inexpensive chocolate ones myself.

  • Jane says:

    Hi Donna,
    I’ve never had an advent calendar. I have heard that some have chocolate in them. I guess we used the regular calendars to count down when we were little. My birthday is in December and I would start counting the days to Christmas right after my birthday.

    • Jane – is your birthday in early December? LOL – that is a big month for you! Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Impending Birthday 🙂 .

      With all the chocolate I ate yesterday as part of the holiday munching – the last thing I need is a chocolate dispersing calendar. LOL . The plain old ordinary one that can be marked off will be fine. That and the fun online one Christina sent, that is.

  • Kaelee says:

    I never had an advent calendar as a kid but I love them.

    I did make 13 advent calendars as gifts one year. I started in September and nearly went blind sewing sequins and beads onto 24 felt ornaments with Velcro on the back of them. They went into 24 numbered pockets on the bottom of a big red felt rectangle which had a green felt tree on it. The hard part was making each tree stand out and each ornament look different as five of the trees went to one family and four to another family. I also went through 5 tubes of fabric glue when I glued the white felt numbers to the pockets. Then after I gave the 13 calendars out, two friends begged for a tree each so there I was sewing all night long trying to get two more trees made before too many days of December had gone by. I still have the one I made for myself that started it all as my nieces and nephews had really liked playing with my tree the year before they got their trees. So my advent calendar is a felt tree that I hang on the wall and I put a new ornament on each day.

    • Kaelee – Bless your heart for all the work and effort you put into gifts for your family! I made felt ornaments for the tree one year so I know what you mean about the eye strain of sewing on the sequins – OMG – and I only made three ornaments! I made the ornaments about 33 years ago and they’re still together. I bet your advent calendars will last equally long. I bet they’re adorable.

      LOL – this sounds a bit like the craziness bandita Susan involved herself in with the making of all the pies 🙂 . The things we do for love –

  • Donna, what a great post. I LOVED that advent calendar Madame sent us all last year. I used to love starting my day with whatever surprising and entertaining thing Jacquie Lawson had designed for us. I actually don’t think I’d ever had an Advent calendar before so it was a real treat.

    • You know – I was surprised how much I enjoyed it as well. While the calendar is designed to maybe entertain a child with decorating a tree, or watching a snowball fight – I really loved it as a grand old adult! I think my favorite activity was designing snowflakes. What was yours?

  • Fedora says:

    We have a paper advent calendar that retells the Christmas story with each little window revealing another sentence 🙂 I’ll bet my boys would LOVE that Star Wars calendar… will have to see whether I can pony up the dough 😉 How fun, Donna!

    • Fedora – the paper one sounds fun. Check out the Jacqui Lawson ones. I bet your boys would love the activities associated with that and they are really inexpensive.

      I thought the concept of a Star Wars calendar was unique but that’s one scary Santa. Not sure I’d want to reach the 25th with him waiting for me.

  • Mary Preston says:

    A Drinks By The Dram Advent Calender!!!!

    Now that’s what I’m talking about.

    I’d be counting down the days with great anticipation.

    • LOL – Isn’t it a hoot, Mary? I see the folks that do the whisky calendar also do one for gin as well. The box isn’t nearly as pretty though.

      Now a whisky calendar would certainly help to relieve the stress of the holiday season. Each day would be greeted with great anticipation 🙂 and the New Year would be something of a disappointment without a wee dram waiting for you. LOL!

  • Barb says:

    WE never had an advent calendar

    I made my grandkids one each out of fabric the shape of santa and he had pockets that were all numbered and lollies were put in them….. I don’t know about the grandkids liking the lego on ….my son would as he is bigtime into lego

    • Barb – Check out the Jacqui Lawson ones. They are inexpensive and really entertaining for kids of all ages – including adults. i have one for the 2012 season sitting here on my computer. The icon is in the shape of a snow globe and snow is slowly drifting about an alpine village scene until I click on it and the scene comes to life. It’s really inventive – I heartily recommend them.

      Of course the Santa with the lollies is a good idea as well 🙂 Bet the kids love it.

  • Mozette says:

    How about you? Did you used to have an advent calendar when you were little? What kind?

    When I was little, yeah, we had one. Mum used to set it up on one of our big stereo speakers and every day until Christmas Day, we’d open a door on it and there’d be a picture. But it wore out and the little cardboard doors fell off eventually. Since then, we’ve had a few which had chocolate behind the doors – and we fought each other to open the doors for each day… little wonder, the chocolate was from Europe! 😛

    Do you have a special way to count down the holidays?

    Ahh, yes. I do. On the 1st December (or as close as I can get to it) I put up all my decorations and the tree. From there on in, I’m on Christmas present shopping duty. Anything that looks like a potential present ends up being one! I buy the bird a present (bird seed and millet usually), the fish usually get something small (happy plants) and I buy myself something special which is really expensive… So,I make sure it’s something I don’t normally buy. But! I stop shopping 1 1/2 weeks from Christmas Eve – even with groceries… as the shops just get too crowded with school holiday crazy people and kids. I can’t stand it sometimes. Then, come the After-Christmas sales – and I buy all my calendars for next year! 😀

    I’ll give someone who leaves a comment the gift of a Jacquie Lawson advent calendar. 🙂 Let the countdown begin!

    • Mozette –

      Yeah – that’s the problem with those cardboard calendars. I don’t think they were meant to last a long time – but the ones with chocolates…that’s a serious improvement!

      I hear you about the crazies out shopping. I hate having to search and search for a place to park my car just to get in to shop! THese days I do a lot of shopping online so December means lots of visits from the UPS guy :-).

      • Mozette says:

        However, when I was young, people weren’t really into the Advent Calendars. So, when you found one, you used it to death. Nowadays, it’s a matter of not being able to turn around the run into an Advent Calendar. 😛

  • Connie Fischer says:

    What a clever advent calendar. It’s so nice to see one meant for adults. I don’t have one but I think it’s a great idea for children. How many parents out there have been bugged every day by little children so excited and not being able to understand “how many days until Christmas?” This is a fabulous way for them to entertain themselves and make a daily celebration of opening another “day.”

    At least for this year, I have been panicking at how behind I am each day as we get closer and I’ve done so little! *screaming* 😉

    • It can really be a stressful time…Hmmm maybe that’s the real reason behind a whiskey calendar 🙂

      I’m behind as well. At least Thanksgiving is over and done with entertaining wise. Now I can focus on presents.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I never had an advent calendar but every Christmas season my mother would get me one of the cardboard put together scenes like Santa’s workshop, I just remembered that when reading your post Donna. You know what I am talking about, right? I haven’t seen them for years so a lot of the Banditas and BB’s might not know what they were. It was a book of sorts and you would punch out the various pieces of a scene and put tab a into slot a and keep hooking them together until you had a 3 dimensional Christmas scene.

    • Dianna – I’d fogotten about those cardboard things until you mentioned it. Yeah! I remember assembling those as well. Hahaha – but then we are from a similar time 🙂 Ah the memories….

  • Janga says:

    I don’t remember advent calendars from my childhood, but we had a lovely one that told the Christmas story when the boys were small. The grands all have them at home now, but their favorite countdown when they are with us involves a shelf of Christmas books from which they select the appropriate number since their last visit. Since they all live within twenty miles, they are here often and so we rarely read more than three at a time. The oldest grand is thirteen this year, but she still checks to make sure her old favorites are included.

    • Janga – So you read a different book together every day before Christmas? I LOVE that tradition and I be it’ll get carried on in future generations (and maybe might inspire some readers here).

  • Elaine C. says:

    We didn’t have an Advent calendar when I was little, but I went to mass and communion every day . There I read the readings for each day.
    When my child was little, we would get festive Advent calendars for her – the kind with chocolates behind the pictures.
    A few years ago I found a huge reusable cloth one at Colonial Williamsburg. It had pockets and lovely appliqued designs and cloth things to put in the pockets. I gave it to my daughter to use with my grandson. This will be the fourth year for him to enjoy it. I hope it will become a family tradition. 🙂
    Happy Holidays to you.

    • Happy Holidays to you as well, Elaine.

      I love the idea of a reusable calendar. Let’s face it – every year has the same number of days from December 1st to December 25th – and it really doesn’t matter what days those happen to be. I love colonial Williamsburg. I bet that one is a real beauty.

  • LilMissMolly says:

    I still have the Noah’s Ark Advent Calendar we had when the girls were little. When they were teens, we had a Lego one that we pretty cute. Not sure what to do this year though…

    • Molly – Check out the Jacquie Lawson ones. Seriously. They really are fun – much more than a calendar. It’s fun just to look at the interactive screen without actually clicking on any numbers. And they are inexpensive and so easy to share with the whole family.

  • catslady says:

    It’s not something I’ve ever had but they all sound like fun (especially the whiskey one lol). As to black Friday, I went out early this morning with a friend to the pet store and we filled her car – it’s the only place we went roflmao.

  • 🙂 Anyone with the avatar “catslady” could do serious damage shopping at a pet store. Hope you got some great deals!

  • May says:

    Just the regular chocolate ones for me. It is hard to wait till the next day for all those chocolates though!

    • LOL, May – I’d probably break down all the doors and eat all the chocolates on December 1st. Resisting temptation has never been my strength – especially when it’s chocolate 🙂

  • Hollie R. says:

    I love the advent calenders! I get my children one every year~ they like the ones with the chocolates!
    Hugs Donna…heard you ‘ll be at the Romancing the Holidays next week! Hope to see you there!

    • Hi Hollie –

      Yes, Planning to be signing in West Chester. It’ll be good to see you again Hollie.

      Check out those Jacquie Lawson advent calendars, Hollie. They are great for kids and adults and certainly have less calories 🙂

  • Hi Donna, love the alcoholic advent calendar. They should do one with cocktail mixers with a different cocktail for each day. I’d be right there!

    So glad you got a kick out of the Jacquie Lawson calendar and hope you have fun with this one! Good luck with the Christmas shopping! I’m girding my loins now, too. Luckily I have a gorgeous gift shop close to home where I tend to find almost everything I need. Hate the crowds in the malls at this time of year!

    • Hi Christina – I hate those crowded malls & the packed parking lots. You’re lucky to have such a convenient shop this time of year.

      I’m with you for the mixed drink calendar. They could include the recipe along with the mix. I see the same folks that do the whisky calendar also do one for gin – so maybe they’re working their way to that end 🙂

  • Donna, what a cute post! I love Advent calendars. We had a one-piece manger scene one, paper with little numbered doors, when I was growing up. I’ve never had one with actual contents in the doors, only pictures.

    I’d never had a computer one until last year when Christina sent us the great one of London.

    • Yeah – ours were just little pictures – and always store-bought until my mother made a calendar out of a wooden cutout tree with 25 nails and little wooden ornaments. We got to hang a little ornament on the tree with each day toward Christmas.

      Now they are so much more sophisticated. So what was your favorite activity on the computer calendar?

  • Kathleen O says:

    We never used an advent calendar when I was small.. We just marked off the days of a regular one.. I don’t know of anyone who used them way back when…

    • I think the sophisticated ones are fairly new, Kathleen. Back in the day, you never bought something as superfluous as an advent calendar when a pen marking off days on the calendar would work just as well.

      But they are fun!

  • Pissenlit says:

    I had a few of those advent calendars with the cheapo chocolate behind the little daily uh, flaps when I was a kiddie. 🙂

    I don’t really have a special way to count down the holidays. Though…I’m sort of in Doctor Who withdrawal and you know when the next DW fix is? Christmas 😀 Oh, the Toronto Star newspaper tends to have an online advent calendar where each day reveals a new cookie recipe. That’s always fun though I haven’t actually tried any of them out yet.

    • Pissenlit – That’s different. I haven’t heard of the cookie recipe thing before. You know – I’m still so full from Thanksgiving that cookie recipes don’t even sound appealing at the moment.

      see – now you NEED an advent calendar to count down till DW returns 🙂 Hmmmm….wonder if the DW fanbase has something set up online…