Book Countdown

9:00 AM

With Christmas, quickly approaching so begins the countdown. I have been thinking about what to do for a Christmas Countdown for this year since last Christmas. Last year my stepson just started living with us full time and my daughter was barely 6 months old it was hard to do a countdown then. However, I knew then that I wanted to make this Christmas more! More than about just the day of presents, I wanted family involved projects, and activities. I wanted to show my kids the true spirit of Christmas- FAMILY, not the media led idea of what can I get!

The Plan
As most of you know, I am a frugal pre-planner with almost everything. I live on a very tight monthly budget and wanted quality books for my kids to add to their collection. Therefore, I presented myself with two questions.

How many books am I going to use? Where can I get free books?

I decided since my kids will be in similar reading paths I will do one book per day starting the countdown on December 1. I then started googling free books shares, free book sales and free books. I was very disappointed. 

Disappointment Turns Around
I discovered that free book shares are not so free. Yes to exchange books with other members is free; however, the cost of shipping is not. The free book sales I found were nowhere in my driving range unless I wanted to drive to other states. Finally, there is no such thing as free books! There is always a gimmick or, hidden buy this item deal or pay shipping which is over $5 for a small book. I started becoming discouraged.

I put the book countdown idea on the back burner as they say. As spring arrived, family activities became the community buzz again. During a Family Literacy Bazaar, we were given the opportunity to pick from many donated books for the Bazaar. All the kids that attended were given a cloth bag they could fill with books they wanted to take home...for FREE. 

Here is where the irony of me comes into play and sabotages my plans. Yes, I live on a tight budget and cannot get all those expensive things my kids want but I can supply for all their needs and some wants. I saw many families at the Family Literacy Bazaar that I personally knew struggle more than I did and knew this was a need for them. I helped my son find the top three books he really wanted to put in his bag while daddy helped our daughter. At the end of the day, the kids had nine books each as books were given to the kids at each activity center they participated in. A few months later, we donated the duplicate books to a book drive at a local church for future Christmas gifts to be distributed through Toys-for-Tots.

Summer came and ended with no books for the Christmas Countdown for my kids. I figured ok I would find some cool crafts for us to do each day. I looked at Pinterest ideas, printed craft packets and stocked up on craft supplies during sales. 

As fall came with full cool air blowing, I resigned myself to thinking that this idea was not in the cards. Then one Saturday at the local Library as my daughter sat listening to the guest reader my bored wandering eyes paused on the book sale notice that was going on downstairs. After the Tot Time was over, we wandered downstairs to see what I could find to add to the kid's book collection for $3.57. My daughter grabbed two board books. As I tried to pay for the books the woman says today is free book day for all that have not sold...I hugged her! Literally hugged her! We left with three grocery bags of books, Christmas books, cardboard books, ABC books, known author books, character books...FREE BOOKS! 

Now that we had books, it was time to clean them up and repair the worn bindings. I use clear packing tape for the binding as it is wide and strong, and I can buy it for a $1.00 at the dollar store. Thankfully, I always have left over wrapping paper from the previous year. 

Have I mentioned that I L-O-V-E Christmas!!! I love the snow, the lights, the songs, the family time, giving presents, and volunteering, I love it all! Therefore, after getting my son off to school and the hubs out the door to appointments I set the book-wrapping mood. I collect all the books, wrapping paper, tape and scissors. I turn YouTube on the t.v. and play a three-hour long Christmas playlist with beautiful images.

I loosely wrap 24 presents. I used scotch tape so it can be seen and removed easily by little fingers. I placed all the beautiful wrapped books in a blanket-covered basket and placed them in the Livingroom for easy access for the kids.

As my 16-month-old daughter repeatedly removed these presents from the basket, I realized in my happily excited ignorant bliss I did not think about the blunder I had just committed. Parenting 101 says keep all shiny and interesting things out of the reach of little hands.

Now all those interestingly wrapped books are in my filing cabinet drawer for safekeeping. Each night before bed, we read books to the kids. Both the kids and parents will experience the happiness of reading new stories. 

I am so excited that I was able to create this fun Christmas Countdown for my family to enjoy for FREE!

What types of activities do you and your family do during the Christmas Season? Share in the comments, insert links if you like!

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  1. I enjoyed doing a book countdown the last few years. While I finished bath time, I made hubby sneak off to leave one book for each kid under the tree with a plate of cookies and cups of milk. They were surprised and excited every night. :) We still love to pile into the car with blankets and Santa hats with our travel mugs of cocoa to take a tour of lights. We have some serious displays in our area that make it a really special night!

  2. I love this idea. We always drive to Chenango Bridge where there is a complete street that participates in lights and scenes that are amazing1