DIY Advent Calendar Ideas

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These advent calendar ideas are easy to make and will fill the season with fun! While all of these use a little crafting skill, they aren’t too difficult or time consuming to pull together before December rolls around.

Book Advent Calendar

For many years I put together a book advent calendar for my daughter (who is now 14). It was so much fun but also a lot of work to collect all of the books. In the beginning we used a lot of Christmas themed books, but as she got into chapter books it became harder to stick with the theme (and more expensive, too!).

book advent calendar diy

But if you have little ones, a book advent calendar is so much fun and gives you a little bonding time if you read the book or part of a book each evening. Pro tip: make The Night Before Christmas your book for Christmas Eve every year.

Through the years I wrote about books to put in your advent calendar, how to save money on a book advent calendar, and more generally about how I put together the book advent calendar.

In case you’re curious, I think maybe the year before last I decided it was too much work. She got a Nightmare Before Christmas advent calendar last year, and this year I bought one from Arteza full of art supplies.

Looking for more kid-focused advent calendar ideas? Check out my post on DIY advent calendars for kids.

Easy Advent Calendar Ideas

If you want to be a little crafty in your advent calendar without a whole lot of work on your part, you have options.

Home Made Lovely has a minimalist (and super quick and easy) DIY advent calendar made from brown paper lunch bags. She used black doilies to decorate each bag, but you could also use holiday scrapbook paper or even print out little Christmas trees, stars or other shapes online to glue to your bags. Add your numbers, hang from a jute line or put in a basket, and you’re done!

Or you could use smaller bags and an old picture frame to make this DIY advent calendar idea from Duct Tape and Denim. Theirs contains Bible readings, but you could do the same thing with activities, craft ideas or small candy inside.

All for the Boys used white paper treat boxes half colored in (they used black but you could make red, green or a combination) to hold little treats and activity ideas. These are super fun to play with so don’t worry about your boxes getting out of order. Or number them if they need to go in sequence. You can also buy paper boxes that are already decorated for Christmas if you want to make this even easier. (But note the one linked only has 18 boxes; try these little bags if you want 24.)

This printable advent town from Mr. Printables takes some time to print and assemble but it is so cute and would make a darling advent calendar that doubles as table decor. The free printable comes in color or black and white so you can decorate it yourself.

Crafty Advent Calendar Ideas

If you want to get a little craftier with your advent calendar ideas, here are a few projects that will take more time but are definitely worth it for the extra cuteness.

If you’re a knitter, collect all your gauge swatches from the year to make this cute knit advent calendar from Fine Craft Guild. Assuming you don’t have 24 swatches handy, you can follow the directions and use your yarn stash in a fun way.

Use felt and basic sewing skills to make these little advent calendar pockets from Jenny Allsorts. Hers are all white with red stitching but you can change it up if you like a more eclectic look.

Pillar Box Blue is the queen of upcycling, and they’ve made a lovely advent calendar out of old jeans pockets. Ask everyone in your family for the jeans they never wear, or save the pockets from other denim upcycling projects to make this one.

Want to sew a spectacular advent calendar you’ll use for years and years? The Crafty Gentleman has a great tutorial for a fabric Santa advent calendar that is just too cute! It’s not a beginner project but if you have the skill it’s totally worth it.

Use all that holiday scrapbook paper you have lying around to make a forest of folded paper Christmas trees to hold your advent goodies. The tutorial from The Kim Six Fix uses a cutting machine but I’m sure you could do it by hand, too.

And if you really want to get into using your Cricut to make your calendar, Jennifer Maker has the files and instructions for making a whole tree with little drawers out of paper cut on your machine.

Advent Calendars Made with a Wooden Box

If we’re being honest, we like Halloween more than Christmas, so this year I decided to do a Halloween countdown calendar using a wooden house advent calendar that’s meant to be for Christmas.

If you were to purchase one of these, whether in a house shape, that’s just drawers or one that’s shaped like a Christmas tree (there are lots of different options) you can decorate yours in much the same way I decorated mine, just with Christmas colors and paper instead of Halloween ones.

Zest and Lavender got fancy painting a whole holiday scene on theirs, which is also lovely if you want to go that route (and they filled it with fabulous craft supplies!). I’m a little tempted to get another box to decorate for Christmas, too!

What to Put in Your Advent Calendar

Now that you’ve got plenty of DIY advent calendar ideas, what do you put inside? There are all sorts of options, depending on the age of the kid (or adult!) it is for, their interests, if you want it to include candy, toys, activities, readings or some combination of all of those things.

Image by Yvette Fang from Pixabay

A few ideas:

  • Legos
  • little cars or other small toys
  • stickers
  • holiday socks
  • ornaments
  • craft supplies
  • makeup
  • jewelry
  • mittens, gloves or other winter gear
  • card games
  • items for a family activity like cookie cutters or hot chocolate supplies
  • hair bands or headbands
  • nail polish
  • bath bombs
  • play dough
  • lip balm
  • lotion
  • temporary tattoos
  • fidget toys
  • thinking putty

Of course what you put in your advent calendar will depend a little bit on the space you have to fill. The problem I had with the wooden Halloween countdown calendar was the drawers were so tiny almost nothing fit in them. So I put some things in gift bags in a basket next to the calendar and put a note on holiday scrapbook paper in the corresponding drawer directing her to a bag. Next year I might try harder to have all tiny things, but it’s a challenge!

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