last year we gave the kids book calendars, with a new book or cartoon every day counting down to the 24th. this year we brought their old stockings up from the basement and every morning a small gift is waiting for them. we mix things they want with things they need, and some of the days the gifts are edible (cookies or raw chocolate). we also have calendar candles to help us keep track of the time and today there is 18 days left until christmas.
bottom pic: my friend sisse's mother made the melancholic little santa.