12 Days of Toddler Christmas

For the past few years, I’ve always hosted Bower Power’s 12 days of Christmas.  It was grand fun.  Like the kind of fun you have when you are with a room full of your closest friends and you are all getting tired but totally hopped up on Pixie Sticks and can’t stop laughing for even the essentials – like bathroom breaks or breathing.  

But this year I had to say no.  I knew that I’d rather spend that precious crafting/decorating/holidazing time with Will.  I’d rather be doing activities that put a big dimply smile on his face.  I’d rather spoil him rotten with all that Christmas effort.  I’d rather be gripping this fleeting time as tightly as I can.  I’m sure that every mother out there feels that way with the recent tragedy of Sandy Hook.  We all hold our babies a little tighter and a little longer and want to soak in the joy of having them in our arms while whispering up tearful prayers for those families that are hurting.  This is just a way I can intentionally invest this holiday season in the things that matter – spending time and making memories with the little loves in my life.       

In our living room, I set up twelve jars.  Our 12 days of Christmas are housed in leftover spaghetti sauce and pickles and roasted red pepper jars.  Jesus would be proud.  My best tip for cleaning jars is to wash out the old food particles (unless you are saving them for later) then soak them in hot water to soften the label.  Use a little WD40 and a scraper to remove all the sticky stuff.  The ink stamped on the jars (like the expiration date, etc.) comes off with a Magic Eraser.    

Each of our jars has a little ornament in it and a ‘special treat’ card.  The cards say different things…activities like make a gingerbread house or deliver neighbors gifts or goodies like a penguin shaped chocolate treat or a christmas bell. 

Around each jar is a little tag (they came from the mothership – Martha at Staples)…Will gets to draw a piece of paper with a number out of a bowl…and then we find the matching jar to see what we are gonna do that day.  See?  Matching.  That’s totally like learning.

The ornaments make me so happy.  They were my mom’s when we were growing up and I got to put them on the tree as a little girl.  Will is fascinated with them.  Who wouldn’t be fascinated with a red mini monkey with pink cheeks?!  Seriously?! 

I spraypainted the lids.  The Ragu logo didn’t match the Vlasic lid…it had to be done.

Will did his first day and got a package of glow bracelets (most of the purchases were from the dollar store – so this cost me no more than $12).  His special treat card also said “read in your tent”…he got weirdly excited and started growling like a tiger.  that’s completely normal for him.

We threw a bunch of blankets and pillows in the teepee (Will calls it his tent) and picked out some books and settled in with a couple christmas cookies.  The cookies were Weston’s suggestion.  Noone can argue with a newborn.

Will’s spectacles…

The activity only lasted about the length it takes to read two books (and eat two Santas) but it was squishedupfun (yes, all three of us were squeezed in there) that I’ll always remember.

I think Will is thrilled too because now he wakes up and asks for his special treat almost immediately. 

So are you guys doing little special things each day to get into the Christmas spirit?  Any advent activites?  Or daily events?  Or yuletide toddler fun that is putting the real joy into this holiday season?  I’d love to hear all about it.



  1. says

    katie, i love this idea, and i love this post. our girl is just 5 months and i am thinking about how we can establish fun, Christ-centered Christmas traditions for our growing family in the coming years. i’m bookmarking this idea for next year and saving jars in the meantime! :) my husband has special ornaments and other Christmas goodies that are special to him, and those things remind him of his childhood and bring back sweet memories. i bet your little one will remember this for years! beautiful.

  2. says

    I love this idea and the fact that you have them out to see and enjoy! I would really love a list of all of your activities/treats that you gave him. Just ’cause I’m super nosy and have no original ideas : )

  3. Kristi says

    love how yours turned out! so cute. i did 12 days with my hubby this year for the first time. i made envelopes with the numbers on them, then put either a note from a family member or friend and/or a little rhyming card that explained either a little gift or activity. so far we’ve decorated christmas cookies, made a doggie paw print ornament, he got a note from my parents and his, an itunes giftcard, etc. it’s been fun getting them together and having him open something each day! love the acts of kindness idea up there and will definitely want to do something like this if we’re blessed with a little one someday :) merry christmas bowers!

  4. SaraD says

    That’s such a great idea. My aunt bought each of her grandchildren and great-neices and -nephews the Jacquie Lawson Alpine Advent calendar. It’s been fun to do every night before bed… it’s also a great motivator to get ready for bed and brush her teeth.

  5. says

    That’s such a great idea! I did something similar for my little sisters over at my blog but there’s was a whole advent calendar full of treats. I love spoiling little ones!

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