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DIY advent calendars are a great way to celebrate the season in a crafty way and to build family traditions that can last for years.
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When I was a kid we had an advent calendar that I remember as being a piece of felt that maybe had some kind of rhyme on it about Christmas coming.
It had little strings of yarn on it where you could tie candy — it was pretty much always peppermints, I think, and maybe sometimes Hershey’s Kisses, and each day my brother and I would get to untie a piece and have a little treat (though how much of a treat 24 peppermints is is definitely up for argument).
The Book Advent Calendar
We’re not that much for family traditions around the holidays here at the White House, but one tradition that is now going on three years strong is having a book advent calendar in preparation for Christmas.
It’s a pretty simple things to do: just gather 25 books, which can be related to the holidays or not (we have a mix), new books or books you already have in the house (again a mix for us; check out my tips for saving money on a book advent calendar).
Wrap the books and number them. I do a little haphazard numbering but some days I’m more deliberate about. We always do Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. We have a Hanukkah book we always read on the first night of Hanukkah. Thre’s always an activity book or cookbook on the first day of winter break so we have some new fun things to do.
There’s a mix of chapter books, picture books and nonfiction, books that have been lying around unread, holiday books and new things, too.
I say its simple, and it is, and it’s a great way to read with your kids, but that doesn’t mean its not super time consuming. If you’re looking for an easier way to mark the season, check out some of these great DIY advent calendars.
Crafty Advent Calendars
DIY Lego Advent Calendar — Little Bins for Little Hands made this brilliant activity list. Just gather the blocks they need for each day, put them in bags, number them and you’re done. You know you have enough Legos to do this.
She also has a great STEM challenge advent calendar, which includes things like dissolving candy canes and designing a parachute for Santa, all presented in clear plastic ball ornaments. Oh, what fun!
Christmas Carol Advent Calendar — Mama Smiles. Sing or listen to a bunch of holiday songs with this printable Christmas carol calendar.
Snowman Advent Calendar — Rainy Day Mum. Let the kids help decorate the snowmen and they’ll all be unique. Add small bags or envelopes to hold a little treat.
DIY Recycled Advent Calendar — Mother Natured. Add some upcycling to your holiday prep by making an advent tree out of TP rolls.
Fairy Light Advent Calendar Tree — Thimble and Twig. This one definitely has more of a grown-up look, and is a gorgeous way to present tiny gifts and treats for the season.
Photo Advent Calendar — Red Ted Art. Look back on your year by printing out photos to use on your calendar, then keeping them to remember the year by.
Printable Box Christmas Tree Advent Calendar — Powerful Mothering. These printables come with and without numbers, so when you pass a day on the calendar the number can go away but you can keep the tree design intact. So clever. She also has great printable trees you can decorate to use as an advent calendar.
Easy DIY Advent Calendars
If you want a classic Christmas countdown with minimal fuss, check out the printable from Freshly Planted. Just add stickers and you’re done!
If you want to plan activities for each of the days before Christmas, Books and Giggles has some good advice for planning an activity-based advent calendar.
Or use the printable ideas from Creative Family Fun to make a family activity advent calendar full of seasonal fun. Hers has 32 ideas and 12 blank cards so you can mix and match with what your family likes to do.
KC Edventures has a whopping 100 ideas you can add to your advent activity calendar, which are easy to print off and tuck into a pocket, bag or envelope depending on the style of your calendar.
Mama, Papa, Bubba has really cute printable activity cards, too, which include the countdown right on the cards. Or if you like the chalkboard look, check out the printable activities from Happy You, Happy Family.
Acts of Kindness DIY Advent Calendars
Of course this season is a great time to share our love with others and give back to our communities, so there are lots of ideas pertaining to acts of kindness.
Mama, Papa, Bubba has a collection of printable acts of kindness cards that can be filled out for each day of the season.
Wondermom Wannabe has another great printable calendar that focuses on acts of kindness kids can do.
Ever Change Productions also has some good ideas for acts of kindness and a calendar that can be used any time.
Do you use an advent calendar? I’d love to hear about it!