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The bustle of the holiday season is exciting, but it can also be incredibly overwhelming. Gifts to buy, parties to attend, cookies to bake, and much, much more. Decades ago my mother decided that she was fed up with the craziness of our holiday season, and she declared that our family needed to take time to be thoughtful and to add the spirit of service into our countdown to festivities. Making countdown service chains was a happily anticipated family night activity in early December when I was a child, and now that I am grown and have children of my own my husband and I have carried this tradition into our own family unit.
Holiday countdown service chains are simply a thoughtful twist on standard paper countdown chains. They are simple to make and a fun family night activity. With small children in the home one countdown service chain located in a central area of the home works well. Each morning you can rip off a link of the chain together. In homes filled with older children, teenagers, or adults, it is nice for each person to make their own countdown service chain for which to be accountable.
In order to make your own holiday countdown service chains you will need colorful paper, a pair of scissors, a stapler, and a pen. Begin by cutting strips of colorful construction paper or scrapbooking paper. On each strip of paper counting down to the holiday, write one small act of service which can be performed. A few ideas might be doing chores without complaint, shoveling the snow from a neighbor’s driveway, writing someone a nice note, going caroling at a nursing home, or serving dinner at a soup kitchen. For smaller children things can be kept even simpler. Ideas such as sharing a special toy with a sibling, calling Grandma, coloring a picture for Daddy, or giving Mommy a hug are ideal. These ideas are simple enough to be attainable for the child, helping them to feel accomplished and excited about serving others. My favorite service strip from last year’s chain was my 3 year old’s idea: Let Mommy take a nap. Yes, please.
Once your strips are full of good deeds, simply create a loop with one of them and staple the loop shut. Repeat this process, looping each link together, until you have a long chain that is ready to hang on your wall. Each morning you will tear off a link and complete the service listed on the strip of paper. As your chain grows shorter your excitement for the upcoming holiday will grow and grow!
I hope that you can take time to reclaim the holiday season from the bustle and stress that so commonly accompanies this time of year. It is my hope that this simple family tradition will bring some calm, clarity, and excitement to your month. Happy holidays!
If you liked this post then you may enjoy these posts about some of our family traditions:
Be sure to follow along on my Christmas Pinterest board for more festive inspiration!