I’ve wanted to make an advent calendar since last holiday season, but only now have found the time and motivation.
Ideas for Types of Calendars. I love all the different types. The little wooden ones with doors, the paper ones, the felt ones that hang and have little pockets. A creative friend of mine made one shaped like a train for her boys. My favorite idea for our family is the advent banner or advent garland. I don’t really know what the proper term is for it. See below for what I did and links to more examples.
Calendar Content Ideas. What you use your advent calendar for can vary as well. Many people do candy or small gifts for each day. Other ideas are holiday activities, scriptures, clues for an elaborate treasure hunt, pieces of the story of Christmas, etc. Some people even wrap a children’s Christmas book to open and read for each day.
Our Advent Calendar. We are doing the advent garland. Basically, you pick a spot to hang a piece of string, yarn, twine, or garland. Possible locations are on the mantle, a piano, a doorway, or a window. You could also just tack a row or two of string to a wall and hang it from there. Eventually we plan on putting up two or more rows of wire rods on the wall for displaying the kids’ projects. But that may be a while yet. For now, we chose the front window since we don’t have curtains to hang yet anyway.
There are many types of advent garland I like. Using envelopes or repurposing old Christmas cards are fun ideas. See the links below for examples. I decided on little gift bags. I wanted something that could hold a few different things for us.
- Activities: Old Christmas cards, prettified with craft scissors, have activities written on the back. One for each day.
- Jesse tree ornament and devotion: I’ll post on what we’re doing for a Jesse tree later, but I did want to mention that it’s convenient to stick each day’s ornament and devotion in the bags.
- Cheap toys on each Sunday: The kids like toys.
- Candy: We all like candy.
I bought some nice bags on sale at the craft store, along with some mini clothes line clips and twine. I already had green and red permanent markers, craft scissors, and old Christmas cards at home. After dinner on Thanksgiving day a few friends helped me take the price tags off the bags, cut out and write number tags, decorate the clothes pins, and tie the tags to the bags.
I ended up with bags that were too big to display face side out, so I punched a hole in the side and tied the number tags there. Each bag was filled with an activity card, Jesse tree materials, candy, and some with toys. I tied the twine to our bare and lonely curtain rod and clipped the bags to it. Yay! Advent garland! 🙂
This was a little more expensive and labor intensive than I originally intended. I was just going to take old Christmas cards and turn them into little advent envelopes. But I wanted to add more stuff for each day, create something more aesthetically coherent, and come up with a solution that would last for years and be flexible to change. I think this worked out beautifully.
Our Activities. I am hoping that each year the kids can help me come up with activity ideas. Here is what I did for this year since my kids are so young. Some correspond to Jesse tree concepts or things we already had planned. They do not include all the activities we plan to do (like reading books about the birth of Jesus or visiting with out of town relatives). Also, it’s easy enough to skip things or switch them around if needed. No stress!
- Make a wreath (simple preschool craft)
- Make cinnamon-applesauce ornaments
- Watch a Christmas movie and eat cookies and milk
- Act out nativity story (nativity toy set or flannelboard characters)
- Make gingerbread houses (scheduled event)
- Make manger for under tree (to put Jesus in on Christmas morning)
- Make Great Grandma a Christmas gift
- Visit Great Grandma (scheduled event)
- Make a gift for a friend’s upcoming birthday party
- Make and deliver a Operation Christmas Child shoebox
- Take video of kids singing Christmas songs and send to grandparents
- Christmas brunch with extended family (scheduled event)
- Drop off bag of food at food bank
- Bake cookies for cookie exchange party (scheduled event)
- Worship Jesus by singing Christmas songs as a family
- Make a Christmas picture frame
- Make hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie
- Make and deliver goodies for neighbors
- JARON’S B-DAY! (obviously, a scheduled event)
- Go on drive to see Christmas lights
- Play “prepare the way” game (John the Baptist lesson for Jesse tree)
- Make a hand and footprint angel
- Watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas
- Bake birthday cake for Jesus and go to Christmas Eve service
- Christmas Day!!!
Hope this gives you all some ideas! Here are more:
- Best Homemade Advent Calendars (Fine Craft Guild)
- Advent Activities – Make the Days Count! (Simple Kids)
- Advent Calendar Roundup (Ohdeeoh)
- There’s always those great wooden ones with doors! They’re currently half price at craft stores like Joann, making the nice ones about $30. Costco also carries good ones for a decent price.