I have always loved a good advent calendar. I still remember the nativity scene one we had when I were a lass and the excitement of opening a door, even though it was the same one we had every year and we carefully folded the door shut ready for the following year when we were done.

There’s even more excitement in the countdown in our house these days, as it’s my eldest’s birthday on Christmas Eve as well!

So we have always made a big thing of the Christmas season, and it’s still my kids’ favourite time of the year. When I spotted a wooden Santa figure with 24 drawers when they were really little, I knew I had to have him, and every year I intend to fill the drawers with something more exciting that chocolates or sweets, but so far have not managed to do so. I also see ideas for advent garlands and envelopes (damn you, Pinterest!) and think “ooh that’s a lovely idea”! and then somehow never manage to get around to putting it into practice.

So this year I am determined to do something different. My youngest and I spent some time in September learning how to make origami stars, and writing positive messages on them for when she had her own stall at Bearwood Crafty Pantry Food Festival. And we have as a family spent a lot of time in 2016 talking about what is right and wrong, what is kind and what is fair, in light of global and local news events. My girls are both turning out to be conscientious global citizens, and have a strong sense of what they believe to be right or fair, I am delighted (and not at all surprised) to see. So I thought perhaps we could combine a little sweet treat each day with a bit of thoughtfulness; by us adults, by them and sometimes requiring some action too. Last year we did a Christmas parcel for Ryan and Wayne, the two homeless men who used to sit outside the car park I use for work, and their dog, Bella. The girls were really into it, and had lots of suggestions for what we might include in it.

So I had a look at what other people had done, like the Padbury family with their random acts of kindness countdown, and also these great ideas in Country Living, and decided to come up with a combination of family treats (like a trip to the German Christmas market in Birmingham, or ice skating), some thoughtful consideration of others (from putting some coins in vending machines or parking meters through to smiling and saying hello to strangers in the street or bringing in cakes for colleagues), and some positive action like helping out the local Foodbank in the run up to Christmas, as well as some quality family time at home watching Christmas films, baking treats and going for walks. My intention is to print these off in long strips on paper and fold them into the origami stars, which would fit perfectly in the little drawers.

origami rainbow-stars

As long as I also put some chocolate in there, I think we should be OK….