Perhaps a little previously, I wrote a post about alternative advent calendars two weeks ago – most of the ideas came from a post I saw at babycinnokids.com/blog. Among the enthusiastic comments on the post, everyone seemed to love the book idea, where you wrap up 24 books (in my case 25 because I am going to read the boys Dick Bruna’s ‘Christmas’ on Christmas morning), and one of the kids opens one each day so you can read a Christmas-related story each evening in the lead-up to the big day. You then keep these for future advents – so it’s a long-term investment.
Following this, I thought I’d see just how many Christmas books we had lying around. Rather a few it turns out. Even so, to save money I extended the brief to include books about winter and snow – digging up ‘The Snowy Day’, ‘Mr. Snow’, ‘Spot’s Snowy Day’, ‘Miffy in the Snow’, ‘Boris in the Snow’ (Miffy’s bear counterpart) and ‘Bramley Hedge Winter Story’ (I bought all four seasons for my first son when I was pregnant with him, and we’ve never read them!).
Clearly the board books are too young for my boys, even with one of them being just two-and-a-half, but I don’t think it matters. It’s all about creating anticipation and enjoyment in the cosiness of dark evenings, and in bedtimes that give focus to the season outside (as in the weather) and the season that’s ahead (as in, of goodwill).
It turned out we had 19 books all together, and I still haven’t managed to find our copy of ‘The Snowman’ (I fear I may have given it away as until last year it made my older child cry and cry).
To round the number up to 25, here’s my three-pronged plan:
1) Buy three new, full-priced Christmas-themed books about characters I know my children like from Bags of Books and Waterstones in Lewes – I went for a Charlie and Lola one, an Alfie one and ‘The Jolly Postman’, because both children still love ‘Peepo!’ and ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. This is to support my high street, but also to be afforded some choice.
2) Hit the charity shops (I have so far been unsuccessful in finding anything, but there’s lots of time still until December 1st). This is obviously pot luck and you just have to go with whatever you find, but of course you’re supporting a charity and saving money, and it’s all part of the fun of building your collection. If I have any success, I can swap the snow books out for these.
3) Browse The Book People, an online discounter offering up to 75% off books – largely through bundles. I know ‘online discounter’ could be seen by some as a dirty pairing of words, but for this particular project, I am personally OK with going this route. And today (Wednesday the 12th) there’s an extra 10% off until midnight, with the code WISH10.
If you only have a smattering of Christmas books at home, this is a good option, because they do brilliant bundles of Christmas books that are cheap. You don’t have any choice over what’s in the pack, but there’s are two of 10 books each called ‘Winter Wonderland Collection‘ (£11.99, but would be £62.90 if you bought the books separately) and ‘Big Box of Christmas Stories‘ (£12.99, RRP £69.90).
Only needing three more books, I’m going for ‘Christmas Story Collection‘, which includes ‘The Story of Christmas’, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ (we’ll read this on Christmas Eve) and ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. This bundle is £4.99 instead of £17.97.
I also love the look of ‘Snow‘, which is a hardback celebration of Walter de la Mare’s lullaby-like poem about a family getting ready for Christmas. It’s illustrated by Carolina Rabei and is £3.99 (RRP £12.99).
Delivery from The Book People is free if you spend £25 and over, or £2.95 otherwise. And that 10% off code for using today, Wednesday the 12th, until midnight, is WISH10.
So far I’m feeling relaxed and excited about Christmas this year – less sickened by the whole overload than in previous years. Long may this feeling continue (though I’m not holding my breath!).
P.S. I’m handing the blog over to Leigh Hodgkinson in the next few days, a children’s illustrator who lives in Lewes. She’s going to do a guest post about her amazing sticker advent calendar. Watch this space.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to The Book People, who I approached about becoming one of their members after discovering their bundles and factoring them in to to our collection of Christmas books. I thought letting anyone else interested in doing this calendar know about them would be useful. I am 100% a proponent of buying from your local high street, but in this case 25 full-priced books would be a huge outlay for anyone – I have even told Bags of Books (whilst buying a couple of Christmas books from them) that I am buying a bundle from The Book People to do this project for my kids!
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