Elle turned 12 years old in April! And since 12 is sort of a rite of passage in our Mormon culture — where the kids go from Primary (the children’s program) to the Young Women (the teenagers’ program) — I wanted to make this birthday memorable and special. So I took a cue from my 12 Days of Priesthood post and adapted it for the 12 Days of Young Women.
I started 11 days before Elle turned 12 and gave her a gift each day, ending on her birthday. Some gifts were more elaborate or expensive and some cost me nothing at all. I really just wanted to help Elle get ready, prepared and excited to move on to the Young Women’s organization.
I didn’t want to have to wrap 12 different gifts, so I found a cute, sturdy box that she could open and reopen. A new gift was inside each day. If the gift wasn’t tangible or it wouldn’t fit, I just wrote the words on an index card. I took 12 premade tags and wrote Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc on them and switched them out each day.
Here is an outline of Elle’s 12 Days of Young Women:
Day 1: New Church Dress and Shopping with Mom
Elle was in desperate need of a new church dress so this was the perfect excuse to buy one. We also picked out a pair of shoes and a jacket. We had fun just the two of us, but the ride to and from the shopping outlets was the most memorable part. We had a good follow up talk to The Birds and The Bees and how this relates to the value of Virtue. We had a wonderful night together.
Day 2: Mascara / Lip Gloss / Shaving Kit
Elle opened up Day 2 to find some personal hygiene items: mascara, lip gloss, and shaving supplies. To be clear, there is no set age in the Mormon religion that allows for make-up. It is up to each individual family to determine that for their own daughters. 12 is the age that I felt comfortable with Elle wearing a little make-up. She hasn’t missed a day of mascara since. She also really wanted to shave, so I threw those supplies in as well.
Day 3: Dessert with Dad
Chad and Elle went on a little date. They had a good discussion as they ate their ice cream shakes. Chad has been a Bishop before so he spent some time preparing Elle for her interview with the Bishop. He talked her through what to expect and what the Bishop might ask so she would be comfortable with the experience.
Day 4: Personal Progress Bookmark; Goal Setting Discussion
Elle’s YW leaders had already given her a Personal Progress book so I just put it in the box along with a Personal Progress bookmark. Then Elle and I had a Personal Progress review and goal setting session. We read through the book, the values, and the goals and experiences. We flagged experiences she was already working on or that would be really easy to complete with her current schedule. We made a plan on what she would tackle first. To date, she has already completed 3 goals.
Day 5: Torch Necklace
This necklace is so pretty and so inexpensive. The torch is a symbol to remind the girls to be a light to others and to stand for truth and righteousness. Elle wears her necklace almost every day now.
Day 6: Picture of the Temple
I ordered a temple picture on canvas for Elle’s room. It is a 16 x20. We were redoing her room so it made a great birthday gift. In my opinion, every girl’s room needs a picture of their favorite temple.
Day 7: Testimony of Young Women; Theme Card; Chocolate
Elle hears from me all the time, and I wanted her to have a different perspective, so I had my little sister write her testimony of the Young Women’s program for Elle. I also included a small version of the YW theme so it could fit in her scripture bag. And she loves Hershey candy bars so I threw that in for fun.
Day 8: Young Women Music
I had my hubby download a few Jenny Phillips CDs onto Elle’s iPod. Jenny Phillips has great spiritual music that goes with the Youth theme each year. I already owned the music; it just wasn’t on Elle’s iPod yet.
Day 9: Camp Manual / First Aid Kit
I wanted Elle to have a camp manual and know that we actually certify when we go to camp :). I picked a first aid kit because first aid is one of the requirements she needs to pass off her first year at Girl’s Camp.
Day 10: Visit from YW Leaders
This took a little coordinating, but I arranged for Elle’s Young Women leaders to come and visit her on one of the days. They brought along a girl from the class as well. We all chatted for awhile so Elle could feel more comfortable going into a new class. I wish I had gotten a picture of them all.
Day 11: Bishop’s Interview with Temple Recommend Holder
Elle had an interview with the Bishop on the 11th day so I counted that as one of our 12 Days. She was getting her temple recommend that day as well so I included a temple recommend holder. It is just a plastic sleeve that protects the paper recommend. You can buy these at Deseret Book.
Day 12: Baptisms / Temple Trip and Lunch at Temple Square
We capped off the 12 Days of Young Women and Elle’s birthday with a trip to the temple, Temple Square, and lunch at a special restaurant. It was a fabulous way to wrap it all up. You can read about this whole day here.
Elle looked forward to opening the box each day. She would get so excited and impatient to see what was next. The 12 Days of Young Women was a fun, helpful way to celebrate this special time in Elle’s life.