”I’m participating in the Spend-Less Holidays: Saving While Savoring the Season Blog Carnival, hosted by The Frugal Fil-Am and Dainty Mom. We’ll be sharing our tips on how to spend less this holiday season, so that we can have a more meaningful Christmas. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

As I had written in my post last November 5, my family will be having a  K.I.S.S. Christmas this 2012.   There, first on my list on how we intend to celebrate this season in a simple yet significant and meaningful way is (drum roll please)…No more Christmas tree!  Call me a Scrooge but I gave it some deep thought and my inner voice told me that  if I really want a K.I.S.S. Christmas, then focus on the real reason for this season.  Is it the Christmas tree which we tend to elaborately decorate or the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ?  So…no Christmas tree!  We’ll just have our Nativity or Belen, in Filipino.

Our Belen at the corner of our living room…
The Christmas tree usually stands beside it.
Now, the ‘spotlight’ is all focused on Baby Jesus.

This is actually going to be my first Christmas, in my 43 years, that I won’t have any Christmas tree!  Am I being a mean mom to our 14- and 11-year old daughters?

To make up for this quite radical decision I’ve made,  I wanted to do something that our girls would still enjoy (and not hate me for me and my crazy idea!) and hopefully, even remember more.  I’ve come across projects like a Jesse Tree and different versions of an Advent Calendar but the printables were too kiddie for our teen and pre-teen girls.  So, I searched and searched for free downloads and printables that would be easy and fast to do.  I even prayed hard about it, asking our Lord to show me that specific link on a DIY project for this Christmas, if He would really want me to do something meaningful with and intentional for our girls.  My prayer was answered.  In my mind, I wanted to try doing an Advent Calendar, which is really a Countdown to Christmas kind of calendar.  It was going to be my first time to try making one, if ever.  Search after search, and after feasting on eye-candy pins on Pinterest, I landed on this pdf file which I then immediately printed out and started to follow its step-by-step instructions (It’s easy!):



It’s a good thing that I already had all the materials needed and I didn’t have to spend a single centavo for anything! Nada! Talk about spend-less! Everything on the materials list were common art supplies I had in stock, all ready to be used.   (If you don’t have scrapbook paper, like the 12×12 size, you can definitely make do with other materials available locally or whatever you may have in the house. For the 8.5×11 size, I simply printed out on board or cardstock paper Christmas scrapbook designs and they’re for free! All you need to do is input the password given then print away!  You can even just use leftover or scrap Christmas wrappers and paste them at the reverse side of your activities printouts, to give the cards that Christmas Holiday theme.  A great way to recycle those gift wrappers, too! Sticker paper can also just be substituted with ordinary blank paper and glue.)

What I really had to spend quite some time on was the 24 activities for the 24 countdown cards.  I didn’t want to do the a-treat-or-candy-a-day kind of calendar, so I had to think of activities that I know we would all enjoy and not be stressed about!  I also made sure that what we’d be doing would (1) require no or frugal spending, (2) allow us to do those simple things we are not able to do on our regular homeschooling days because of our busy schedules, and more importantly, (3) would mean spending more quality time together, as a family or on a one-on-one basis.

So, for our teen and pre-teen girls, Arielle and Kayla, here are a few samples of the activities on our 2012 Countdown to Christmas Calendar.  (The pages on the pdf file for this would allow you to type your own):

  • Choose your dessert!
  • Movie or tv night!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your words!
  • Make someone smile (happy) with your actions!
  • You can stay up to 10:30 pm tonight!
  • Watch a cartoon or kiddie show on tv!
  • Visit the Blessed Sacrament and have a quiet time with God!
  • Look at old photos together (If old videos would play, watch them too!)
  • Let’s take a walk outside!
  • Surprise Lolo and Lola with a phone call!

It was actually fun and easy to put everything together.  It just took me around a day and a half to complete ours.  Just in time for the countdown to begin on December 1.

Calendar activity cards and countdown number stickers


I made sure that the card activities were in sync with our activities
already written down on my planner, especially those falling on weekends,
when we’re out of the house, most of the time.


I used my craft scissors to trim the countdown number stickers,
printed on sticker paper.


I changed my mind. I decided to use my 2 sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper,
even if they were lavender and yellow, instead of the first set of materials
I used which came out a bit narrower and longer.


I then laid out each card on the 12×12 scrapbook paper to make sure that all 24 cards would fit. I stuck the cards on the perimeter first to be able to give some sort of frame or right spacing to the rest of the cards. I used double adhesive tape on the undersides of each card
(As you can see, some cards are upside down here).


And our Countdown to Christmas Calendar is finished!

I’m really thankful that, in the nick of time, I was able to come up with something as meaningful (or maybe even more?) as the symbol and tradition we’ve had for years…the Christmas tree.  I am excited and am looking forward to doing this!  I’m also hoping that this Calendar would be something our family, most especially our girls, would enjoy, treasure, and keep in their memories of Christmas.  Who knows?  This might be the start of a new Christmas tradition for us 🙂

Let the countdown begin!

Do check out the rest of our Spend-less Christmas Carnival participants!

The Learning Basket 

Apple’s World 

A WAHM’s Life 

Changing Nappies in High Heels 

Savvy Saving Couple 

Kids Party Hub 

My Life in Letters 

Super Mommy Wannabe 

The Frugal Fil-Am 

Mrs. C’s Sugar-Coated Life 

Henry’s Mom 

Roller Coaster Mom 

Saved By the Miracle of Baked Mac 

Mommy Journey 

City Girl, Country Home 

Ate Maui 

The World is Our Classroom 

Lique’s Antics 

Mommy Bares All 

Consumer Queen 

Truly Rich Mom 

Saving Well, Spending Less 

Dainty Mom


  1. Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Permalink

    Love it, Racquel, especially the daily activities! Memory-making at its best! I am really grateful for the gift of homeschooling as we are able to go against the norm 🙂 Lovely, lovely project!

    • Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Permalink

      Thank you so much, Mariel! 🙂 I have yet to read yours. I’m just extra busy this weekend and so, I hope to read the other posts for the blog carnival next week. And yes, homeschooling really gives us opportunities to make memories like no other! 🙂 Thanks again for the encouragement and support! 🙂

  2. Posted December 1, 2012 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

    Hi Racquel,I really love the Countdown idea, and the activities too! 🙂 I agree with Mariel, memory-making at its best! 🙂

    • Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

      Hi, Chrissy! Thank you for that positive feedack on the idea 🙂 I truly appreciate it…thanks!!! 🙂

  3. Posted December 1, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    Hello, Chrissy! Thanks a lot for dropping by to leave a comment and thank you, too, for loving the countdown idea! Now I’m thinking I should have done this when the girls were younger! :). Hope you’ll have a meaningful Holidays, Chrissy 🙂

  4. Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

    First time to make an Advent Calendar too this year 🙂 Made one for my 4-year old daughter to teach her also the value of giving. So rather than receiving gifts for the next 24 days, I also included activities like “Donate old toys and clothes to Jollibee” and “Give food to street kids”. Indeed a good Christmas Tradition for our kids! 🙂

    • Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

      Hello, Christiine 🙂 Nice to know that you also made one! Yey! Yes, those activities would be nice to put in your calendar ❤ It really all depends on what you want to achieve and focus on during the Christmas season. 🙂 Thank your for dropping by and leaving a comment, Christine! I appreciate it 🙂

  5. Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Very nice! 🙂

    • Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

      Hi, Mich! How are you? Thanks for dropping by and leaving a short comment. I truly appreciate that, too! ❤

  6. Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    We have been praying the Advent prayers as a family, ever since I was a kid. We do the whole lighting of the candles on the wreath, and say prayers from the heart, after which we honor the Lord in song. It’s a beautiful time of worship for us all. 🙂

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

      Hi, Mart! Thanks for dropping by and sharing your family tradition 🙂 It IS very interesting to know what families do at this time of the year! 🙂 Have a meaningful Season!

  7. Posted December 6, 2012 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

    I so LOVE your belen, Racquel! 🙂 Been looking for a nice but affordable one, but can’t find one. Settled for Papemelroti’s smaller set but I’m still on the lookout for a bigger set too. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your traditions! 🙂 God bless always!

    • Posted December 7, 2012 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

      Hello, Tina! Thanks for virtually visiting our Holy Family, our Belen! 🙂 We used to have wooden faceless blocks as Belen, then changed it to this one. Got this one at Greenhills, I think 2 years ago? I love how it somehow shows the Filipiniana culture of it with the wooden hut material. Don’t worry, the ‘star’ will lead you to your Belen :-). Thanks for dropping a note and for your support always! 🙂 Maligayang Pasko sa iyo at sa iyong pamilya! :))

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