Affordable Advent and Christmas joy
(Originally written in Danish for the charity organization Mødrehjelpen. My text was a part of a digital Advent calendar called #Rådtiljul where we were supposed to contribute with advices, inspiration, DIY’s or other tips and activities on how the Advent and Christmas celebrations might be affordable for every family.”Råd til jul” – meaning «Advice for Christmas (+ also meaning «Afford Christmas» at the same time) The organization Mødrehjelpen helps out families in need, and during December they raise money for Danish children that can’t afford to celebrate Christmas. <3 )
The Advent time and Christmas celebrations have always meant a lot to me, and now that I have my own family with 4 children, it is important for me to build our own Christmas traditions. With several sets of grandparents who would like to be with us during Christmas, we will celebrate in Norway and Denmark every other year, but at least the advent time at home can be the same every year. I also think that if you make the 23 days until Christmas Eve special, then you do not build up too high expectations for Christmas Eve. Then you may not be as disappointed if everything doesn’t turn out to be as idyllic as you had thought in forehand. (As can easily happen with 4 small kids and «your» and «my» family.)
1. The magic element. You do not need much money to create a cosy Christmas atmosphere. I remember well all the expectations, the little magical moments and the Christmas joy I experienced as a child during the Advent days, and can still feel childlike joy over little things. One such moment was when I found a classic brass angel chimes in an interior store last year. (These candles from Dala can also be purchased for 100 dkk on the internet.) I got a sudden sense of nostalgia. We didn’t have these ourselves, but I remember seeing them around. And what joy such a small thing can give! I got a childish excitement when the brass angels started spinning and music arose. And 2-year-old Michael was equally fascinated. I posted a picture on my Instagram account and received huge feedback from people of all ages who remembered it from their childhood and also became nostalgic. So now it is a regular part of our Advent period, and I look forward to bringing it out every year and to keep fascinating the 4 little ones over and over again.
2. Gingerbread baking without stress. I grew up always making and decorating gingerbreads in the Christmas season. When I grew up it was my Grandma that made homemade dough and kept this tradition alive. Now that we have such a busy everyday life, I think it is important to lower the demands of perfection, and I therefore applaud the ready-made dough! Fortunately, Ikea can help out here – they have a very good and cheap dough in their food outlets, as well as cake forms if you don’t have that already, so that is GOLD! And then we are back to expectations – like when you put on Christmas music and have pulled out aprons, and the 2 or 3 year old makes two cakes and then says “done!”. Classic. When that happened last year, I finished the tray that we had begun with, and then I put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator for another day when the kiddo was in the right mood. – Then you suddenly have many half-hours you can fill with a cozy Christmas atmosphere, and at some point the children are big enough for the baking to last a little longer.
3. Christmas tree decorations from thrift shops. I love to buy both clothes and things second hand. The hunt itself is also part of the joy, but I also think the quality and design were often better before. And over the past two years I have started to love vintage Christmas decorations. The really old, classic and elaborate ones, but also those reminiscent of those who hung on the tree in my childhood in the 80’s and 90’s. My goal is to find some new ones every Advent time, and slowly but surely build a collection that the kids will always remember. Instead of following this year’s Christmas trends, I find great pleasure in finding cheap and hidden treasures in both thrift stores and flea markets (something you can also involve your kids in), and I just think it’s nice that they don’t match. If you do not have the space or money to prioritize a large Christmas tree, it is also very cozy with a mini-Christmas tree/bush in a pot that the children can help to decorate. Spruce twigs are also incredibly nice to decorate, and you just need to add some cones to make a table decoration, or tie a red silk ribbon around it and you can hang it on a wall or a door.
With this, I wish everyone a good Advent time and Christmas! And remember, of all childhood’s fond memories of Christmas, the most cherished ones contain all those small moments of magic, not all the present we did or dod not get. <3