A living Advent Calendar in Paekakariki

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:36 pm on 11 December 2018

Instead of cardboard doors with chocolates behind, the Paekakariki community's "living" advent calendar has residents opening the door to their own festively decorated homes.

Tash Nillson tells Afternoons' Jesse Mulligan she got the idea from her brother in Finland.

"So over the last couple of years ... he's shared photos with me of their displays.

"On a whim this year I thought 'we could do that in Paekakariki,' so I sent out a message and the response from the community was just amazing."

How it works is a household or community organisation voluntarily takes responsibility for setting up a display at their house, unveiling it on a particular date from 1 December to 24 December.

"It's open for people to come and look at, between five o'clock and nine in the evening," Nillson says.

"Some people have gone further and sort of invited people for baking or nibbles and drinks, but other people have just put the display outside their house."

She says the community response so far has been amazing, with a great variety of displays.

"It's kind of taken off … with its own wings."

"We just have a plum tree outside our house so we decorated it up and we had a pukeko in a plum tree; there's been an amazing fence decorated up all with natural materials - with flax flowers and flax leaves and lights; there's been a food box collection for the Kāpiti food bank … the local school garden put on an activity evening where the kids could go and make bird feeders and decorate shells to hang on their driftwood christmas tree."

"We're only half way through, so there's still a lot to come of course."

There's a more extravagant plan in the works for Christmas eve, too.

"There's been some local talk ... the people who are around on the 24th we're going to do a big walk around as a village and visit them all again, perhaps end up with a picnic on the beach or something like that."

Nillson, a teacher at Waikanae Primary School, says she's not usually much of an organising type - and not an "over the top Christmassy person" - but it's great to see the community coming together.

"People are loving the community feel about it and that it's not just about the chocolates behind the little doors.

"You drive around the village and there's all these Christmassy displays outside people's houses and it is giving it a really nice feel.

"It's getting people together and getting people to meet other people in the community that they may not have met before - and people are talking about it being an annual thing, so I may have started something now."

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