Advent Presents!

Yes, you read that right… I am suggesting Advent presents!!!

And, I cannot wait to try it.

Each year, I devise a simple and Advent activity (it’s more of a Christmas countdown in Japan) for my students. This year, as my son is about to turn 2, I wanted to do something with my family; something with the potential to evolve over the years and become a family tradition.

Fortunately, my husband and I had a disagreement about the “big” Christmas present; should it be from Santa or Mummy and Daddy? We both grew up with different family traditions and they conflicted. And there, in conflict, was an idea.

Of course, I am not talking about a new present every day. I am talking about one gift, wrapped 25 times! We just unwrap a little everyday. And there is SO MUCH POTENTIAL!!!

I love ideas that act like gremlins in a swimming pool; my whole body bubbles with excitement. The problem is, when you have an idea explosion it is really difficult to simplify and explain it to others. I have had to sit on this for a week, because every time I tried to write or talk about it, I would disappear into a tornado of possibilities and confuse myself, never mind who I was talking to.

So how does it work?

Hakuba Childcare Present opening

This year, my husband and I will buy a gift for our son. We will loosely wrap it using contrasting tissue paper. Every day, our son can take some paper off and throw it around, or scrunch it, or use it in a craft, or eat it…

And that is it. On Christmas day, he will unwrap the final piece of paper to find a present (from his parents)!

Simple, easy, and not much preparation. I don’t even need to be a Pinterest mom; it doesn’t matter if the wrapping is appalling!

A few future adaptations:

Treats can be placed inside each layer (or every few layers)

Game, Task, or Challenge Cards (Download printable for ideas.)
Under each layer is a card with some kind of task or question. Older children can write their own cards.

Guess the present. What a fun way to generate conversation. Families could even keep track and award a prize to the earliest accurate guess.

Secret Santa
Incorporate this in your usual Secret Santa activity – it means you need to be a little more organised and have your presents bought and wrapped a little earlier than usual, but it adds a nice bit of spice.

Wrap challenge
Try to wrap the gifts creatively to disguise them as something else.

(Silent) Pass the Parcel
Have one present. Set a timer on your phone for a random number of seconds/minutes. Pass the parcel around the each participant. When the timer goes off, the person holding the present unwraps it (or is eliminated and the last person gets to unwrap one layer).

Blend a few of the ideas above. Add your own ideas. Let your family suggest ideas. Have fun with it and let me know in the comments if you try it or have any inspiration to share.

British English Printable

American English Printable


How to make balloon birds

PDF Printable

PDF Printable

I love any craft that is simple, cheap, allows creativity, and can be played with.

So balloon crafts are always a winner!

This is the first in a series of balloon crafts that you can do with children at home or at school.

I have included a free printable with a template for the pieces you need; they are just a guide so feel free to experiment with your own shapes.


  • Step 1
    Trace or draw the shapes onto construction paper
  • Step 2
    Cut the shapes out
  • Step 3
    Blow up one balloon per child (for a large group, you’ll want to do this beforehand)
  • Step 4
    Use double sided tape to stick the wings, beak, and feet on the balloon
  • Step 5
    Make eyes – use stickers, markers, or whatever else takes your fancy
  • Step 6 (optional)
    Add a tail. I like using old plastic bags cut into strips and tied to the balloon; it looks good and makes a fun noise.
  • Step 7
    Play with the bird!!!


  • Let the children make choices: what color to use, where to position body/face parts, etc… Accuracy doesn’t matter; aim for creativity.
  • The children can design the wings and other body parts. They can scribble, draw, paint, add stickers, etc…
  • Soften the balloons – It helps prevent accidental popping when children try to remove the body parts! Inflate each balloon as much as you dare then partially deflate before tying.
  • Give ownership. Children should be supported so that they can do as much as possible by themselves. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be theirs!
  • Make it seasonal! Add a snood and a wattle to make a turkey!