December 11, 2007 in Home

Give kids a fun way to count the days

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Megan Cooley photo

Advent calendars, such as a string of numbered stockings, are a fun way to get kids excited for Christmas.
(Full-size photo)

Raising kids is the ultimate déjÀ vu experience.

When my 2-year-old daughter prances around the kitchen to the music of “John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together,” I swear it feels like yesterday that my sister and I sprawled out on our family’s brown and orange carpet watching that 1979 television special.

Counting down the days to Christmas with Advent calendars was one of our holiday traditions. My Aunt Judy made the ones my sister and I used as kids. Short strands of red yarn held peppermint-flavored taffy, which we’d remove each day until we reached a bell on Dec. 25. Sweet, simple and so good at getting us jacked up for Christmas.

Now, thanks to the string of stockings shown here – one for each day between Dec. 1 and 25, my daughters can carry on the fun.

(Advent calendar diehards will note that I should have started with Dec. 2, the first Sunday of Advent this year, but we’re working on our ABCs and 123s at our house, so please forgive the discrepancy.)

Each day, I’ll tuck a little treat – perhaps a candy, an ornament, a small toy, or a poem – into the corresponding stocking.

How to

•First, draw a template for the stocking or print one off the Internet. Marthastewart.com is a good source.

•Pin the template to a double layer of the fabric of your choice, cut and repeat until you have 50 stocking pieces. The plaid I used is a flannel sold at JoAnn Fabric store. The white is from one of my husband’s old undershirts.

•Cut 25 small strips of fleece or some other material that doesn’t fray. These will be the loops you use to hang the stockings to ribbon or twine.

•Sew hems at the tops of each stocking piece, incorporating the loops into the hems of half of them, then set the stocking pieces aside.

•Cut numbers one through 25 out of fabric that contrasts with the stockings. Using fusible web, such as Stitch Witchery, will keep the edges from fraying. Follow the package directions if you choose to do that. Then, sew the numbers to 25 of the stocking pieces either by hand or with a machine.

•Match the numbered stocking pieces with plain ones, face their right sides together, then sew around them and turn them inside out. Using a turning tool (the eraser end of a pencil will do), poke the inside seams so the stockings take their full form.

•Note that my white stockings have plaid toes and heels. You can do this by cutting out toe and heel pieces, cutting your white fabric so it’s missing toes and heels, then sewing the plaid toes and heels to the body of the stockings. Just be sure to leave enough fabric for seam allowances.

•Once all 25 stockings are done, string them onto twine or ribbon and stuff each one with a little surprise.

Alternatives

•Don’t have a need for an Advent calendar at your house? You could skip the number-making step and use the string of stockings as garland for your tree. Or hang the stockings above a doorway, a child’s bed or the kitchen sink.

•Instead of threading the stockings onto the string or twine through loops, you could use wooden clothespins to attach them.

•Creating and sewing the numbers onto the stockings was the most time-consuming step in the process. Instead, you could just hang a tag in front of each with a number drawn on it or paint the numbers on the stockings using fabric paint.

•Knit the stockings instead of sewing them.

•Stockings are just one seasonal way to hold the Advent treats. You could also make mittens, snowmen, Santa hats – whatever.


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