Start the countdown to Christmas with these DIY Advent Calendar ideas that will fill the month with fun and festive activities for kids and toddlers.

Advent calendars are a wonderful tradition to start with your family. For many children, the days leading up to Christmas are even more exciting and magical than the day itself. So stretch out the season for as long as possible and enjoy every day by making your own advent calendar.

While anyone can go to the store and buy an Advent Calendar, it’s much more fun to make your own. I had grand plans to make an elaborate version, the month of December snuck up on me and I had to think quickly in order to get a start on this new tradition.

simple christmas table setting with gold lantern
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An Advent Calendar For Busy Families

This last minute kids advent calendar is created from little kraft bags, tape and some greenery. It takes just 10 minutes to hang and a few minutes to fill with fun activities to enjoy during the holidays!

By making your own version of an Advent Calendar, you don’t have to worry about it containing candy or material things, if that’s not something you want to instill in your kids. Of course, you absolutely can go that route, but the beauty of making it yourself is that you get to decide exactly what each day has!

Find a place where your children will pass by daily. I created the calendar in our entryway so the girls would walk by it when they wake each morning…you know, so I don’t forget to actually use it! You could also set this up in your kitchen, living room or even your child’s bedroom if you have a wall big enough.

I used fabric tape because it’s pretty, festive and easy for the girls to remove from the wall to see what’s inside their bag for the day. It also doesn’t leave sticky residue or marks on painted walls.

Greenery placed in one of the advent calendar bags

Add pieces of greenery to make it decorative and write the numbers with a sharpie. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, you could always run them through the printer to number them or add number stickers from the craft store.

Filling the Advent Calendar

What makes this advent calendar special is that rather than containing 25 gifts, it is filled with activities and treasures that correlate with our schedule. You can include old family photographs as well as some recent ones, tidbits about why we celebrate Christmas and of course fun seasonal activities as well!

Little gifts like stickers are also fun to include. To coordinate with the activities you can include trinkets that will be used for activities, like a cookie cutter for baking cookies or string with bells for making the jingle bells.

Activity cards to go inside the calendar

Print a list of activities and secretly place inside the bags (this can also be done the day of!) Most often, I don’t know what we’ll do before then!

25 brown bags filled with activities trinkets and other fun ideas

More Advent Calendar Ideas

  • Visit Santa Claus
  • Donate Toys to Make Room for New
  • Shop for Toys to Donate
  • Christmas Carol at Home
  • Christmas Carol at a Nursing Home
  • Watch a Christmas Movie
  • PJ Day
  • Make Jingle Bells for Doors
  • Make a Christmas Necklace
  • See Christmas Lights
  • Go to a Live Nativity
  • Decorate their Bedrooms
  • Write a Letter to Santa
  • Write a Christmas List
  • Make Cards for Teachers / Elderly
  • Make Gift Bags and Distribute to Homeless
  • Adopt a Family
  • Donate to a Food Pantry
  • Volunteer at a Food Pantry
  • Send Christmas Cards
  • Make Cinnamon Rolls
  • Make a DIY Christmas Wreath
advent calendar surrounded by christmas decor

Calendar Activities

Free printable activities to cut and tuck into your advent calendar.

Hallway with a simple kids advent calendar

I also like the idea of doing a 25 Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar. Each day would be a task to complete: a specific kindness towards their sisters, a friend, a neighbor or a teacher. Since it’s the season of giving, this would be a nice way to welcome in the holidays.

I’m excited to continue this tradition in our family, using different ideas as the girls grow older. Read all about our pretty Wooden Advent Calendar here!

More Christmas Ideas

More Christmas Ideas

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  1. Hello! This is adorable! My husband and I just got married and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind posting your ideas. I loved the ones you mentioned in the blog, but I would love the full list. I do realize that some of them are kid related, but we are all kids at heart and I for sure know that I have some “toys” I could give away. Thanks!

    1. I mix them up from year to year often based on what our schedule looks like. Some include seeing Christmas lights, going to the garden glow, donating toys, making gifts for others, caroling at a nursing home, baking sugar cookies, making salt dough ornaments, decorating their rooms, watching a Christmas movie, making hot chocolate and so many more!

  2. Found this through Country Living…LOVE it! We are moving in December and decorating this year will be at a minimum as a result. This idea will add some Christmas charm to our new home while also really helping me still make Christmas special for my little girl! Thanks!!

    1. I can imagine, Amy! I have a lot of easy Christmas decor ideas, including marshmallow “trees” made from sticks found in the yard. Relax & enjoy your first Christmas in your new home!

  3. Simply beautiful! There’s something about simplicity at this time of the year that is so inviting. And yes, I so know what you mean about December flying by — I blame the late Thanksgiving for catching us all off guard. Happy Holidays!