I don’t ever remember having an Advent Calendar as a child. We had a lot of traditional Christmas decorations, but advent calendars weren’t something that I remember hearing about until I was grown.
Somehow, now that I am an adult, I have a complete fascination with them! I have collected several Christmas countdowns since my children were born, and I am always looking for new advent calendar ideas. And there are a LOT of awesome advent calendars out there! Some are DIY, some with candy, some with scripture and some store-bought with little boxes that you can fill with whatever your heart desires!
The Origin of The Advent Calendar
The word advent means “coming”. As Christians, we believe that Christ’s first coming, or advent, was as a baby in Bethlehem. And His second coming, or advent, is when He will one day come to get all of His children from the earth so that we can live with Him in Heaven.
According to Mental Floss (which has a great history of the advent calendar in case you are interested!), the first advent calendars did not become popular until the 1900s in Germany when a newspaper first included them in their newspaper as a gift to readers. Around the same time, a german man designed the first calendar with little doors that opened. This design is still very popular today!
The designs and variations of the advent calendar have changed greatly over the years. However, the idea of counting down in anticipation of Christmas, our celebration of Christ’s coming as a baby who would one day die for our sins, is still at the heart of many of the advent calendars today.
Advent was traditionally meant to start on the 4th Sunday before Christmas, but as Mental Floss explains…
Instead, they begin on December 1 and mark the 24 days before Christmas. Today, most Advent calendars include paper doors that open to reveal an image, Bible verse, or piece of chocolate. The tradition dates to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas.
The Many Types of Advent Calendars
So, since I have such a love for all things advent, I have explored some of the many advent calendar ideas and advent activities for both children and adults. Some of these are Christ-centered while others are simply fun, festive countdowns. I believe that it is important for us to emphasize the REAL reason for Christmas, but we can also enjoy some cheerful, lighthearted anticipation of this wonderful holiday!
Warning!: If you are like me and you LOVE ALL THINGS ADVENT, you might get a little excited? inspired? overwhelmed? by all of these awesome advent calendar ideas!!! Just pace yourself!!!
DIY Advent Calendar Ideas
DIY Book Tree Advent Calendar
In her post on Living For the Sunshine, Cindy shows how she wraps 24 Christmas books for her daughter and then arranges them into a tree shape! What a cute idea, and it keeps reading on our priority list during this busy season. If you need even more ideas for great Christmas books for kids, check out my Christmas Traditions post!
Chicken Wire Advent Calendar Wreath
This is an adorable project from Elle Marie Home! Although the tutorial is for those with a Cricut machine, I’m sure there would be a way to adapt it with small envelopes from a craft store possibly? Check it out and get some inspiration!
Wooden Christmas Tree Advent Calendar
There are a lot of DIY advent calendars out there, but with this one by Jessica Welling Interiors, you end up with a sturdy personalized to your liking keepsake that will last for many years.
This is a simple but great project from Organized 31 is an calendar that would be perfect for sending to a loved one (like Susan sent her daughter away in college). You can write sweet messages, inspiring words, and decorations (and I keep thinking that I would have to add Washi tape) on the outside. Then you can put simple surprises on the inside! And there is nothing that your loved one has to keep or store until next year!
Mason Jar Advent Calendar
In my home, with 4 children, it can be a challenge to find an advent calendar that will hold 4 pieces of candy, or activities, etc. So this idea of using mason jars is perfect for me (plus I have a thing for jars!)!! This project gets extra points from me for being large, reusable, and a project that you can personalize and make your own! Think about little circles of pretty scrapbook paper on the top of each jar, and even sprigs of pine or cedar around the edges of your crate or box!
Advent Ideas for Serving Others
Reverse Advent Calendar
This idea of a reverse advent calendar from Joyfully Thriving is a great way to get our children (and ourselves) thinking of others! Each day, you add another item to a large box or tote that can be donated once full to a food pantry.
Kristen fro Joyfully Thriving says:
And that is something we all need to do more of!
24 Days of Service Advent Calendar
This great idea of giving comes from Randi at Dukes and Duchesses. She places acts of service for family members, neighbors and the community in each box for her kids to do each day. These activities range from praying for someone who will be alone during Christmas to work a shift at the Giving Tree at your local mall. All of these ideas can make a difference to the recipient as well as the one doing the giving!
Christ-Centered Advent Calendars
The Giving Manger
This special advent tradition is one I’m thinking our home needs to include this year! There is a story book that compliments with this Giving Manger. Each day of December, anytime a child (or parent) does an act of service for another, they place a piece of straw in the manger. Then at the end of the 24 day, baby Jesus is placed in the manger onto all of the kind things and love your family has shown one another. What a WONDERFUL idea and one that we could all use more of in our homes!
DIY Nativity Advent Calendar
This idea from This Mama Loves would be great for small children especially! You have a large paint stirrer that you add numbers to (there is a free printable), a star at the top, a manger at the bottom, and baby Jesus moves closer to the manger each day! How sweet! I love it and know that little ones would love it too!
Jesse Trees are an old traditions dating back to medieval times. The name Jesse comes from King David’s father and the scripture that says,
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: Isaiah 11:1
This is a prophecy of the coming of Christ!
The ornaments on a Jesse tree tell the story of Jesus, from Creation to his birth! There are many different kinds of Jesse trees, but I purchased this set of ornaments a few years ago on Etsy from Inspired Traditions and they are beautiful! The seller also has a set that can be printed and colored. There is a wonderful book called “Come and Worship Him” that goes along with these ornaments.
The Jesse Tree guide is “a tool for families during the advent season as they count down to Christmas day.” It has an explanation for each picture and scripture from the old and new testament so children can “make connections between the old and new testament”. If you are looking for a tradition to put God’s truth about Christmas and the gospel in your children’s hearts, check this wonderful resource out!!
Store Bought Advent Calendars
If your kids love Legos like mine do, then this Lego advent calendar will be a BIG HIT with them! There are several different kinds, including Lego City, Friends, Harry Potter and Star Wars.
There isn’t much, actually there may not be anything, that Pottery Barn Kids has made that I don’t LOVE! There advent calendars are no exception! They are a little pricey, but they can be used year after year! And if you watch for sales, you might get a really good deal! (I am writing this in October, but currently there is a 25% off sale on PBK advent calendars).
For a fun surprise for your little artist, get this Crayola set! Each day your child will open a new door that will find another Crayola item and craft!
If you have a toddler, this Little people Advent Calender will be a winner for sure! Your little one will open a door each day to discover an adorable Little People santa, Mrs. Claus, snowman, elf, Christmas tree and so much more!
Schleich Farm World & Schleich Horse Club
My little cowboys (and cowgirl) would love to get one of these great sets this year! Each one has a well-crafted Schleich animal that we love for your child to find each day!
Disney Mickey Mouse Advent Calendar
In this fun and festive daily countdown, your child will get a disney character, holiday accessories, or stickers each day! Who doesn’t love Mickey?
Handmade Advent Calendars
Maybe you want a beautiful handmade advent calendar that will last for years, but you don’t have the time to DIY it! Check out these awesome options on Etsy! If you haven’t discovered Etsy, just watch out! There are tons of unique, handmade items that are absolutely amazing!!!
Reusable Tins Advent Calendars
It’s really hard for me not to want one of EVERY. SINGLE. ADVENT CALENDAR. But this one from Wild Rose & Sparrow is unlike any I have seen before!! It is a hoop/wreath with small gift boxes tied to it for each of the 24 days, plus a few other winter elements tied in for beautiful decoration! You’ve got to check it out!
Personalized Family Activity Countdown
This is such a great idea! You receive a box with ideas for 24 days of activities (or treats) to enjoy throughout the month!
Personalized 3D House Advent Calendar
This is such a beautiful handmade house! Each day, your child will add another piece of furniture or accessories to their house. What fun for older children to play with and a perfect decoration thru the Christmas season!
Bonus: Advent Calendars for Moms
So obviously these ideas wouldn’t have to be just for Moms! However as moms, we are usually the ones helping everyone else have a magical holiday, so why not treat yourself? Or give your hubby a REALLY BIG HINT, and have a little something special to look forward to each day of the season!
Advent Stationery Box
If you are (or know) a paper, planner, or bullet journal lover, you have got to check this out! Each day you will open a new package of holiday themed items and other fun accessories for your paper-loving heart!
Chocolate Advent Calendar
Is there a better treat than chocolate? With this box from Godiva, you can enjoy a different, delicious chocolate each day leading up to Christmas!
Handmade Twelve-Day Tea Bag Advent Calendar
There are a lot of Tea advent calendars out there, but are any of them handmade into Christmas shapes just for you! Only one that I’ve found! If you are a tea lover, you HAVE TO check this one out!!!
Advent Bible Study
If you are ever looking for a great online Bible study, check out Loving God Greatly! These women are so inspirational, and there are so many topics to chose from! And for this special time of the year, there is a Bible Study called “God With Us”, that goes right thru advent! So we can prepare our hearts as well as our homes for the celebration of the birth of our Savior!
I often tease my kids that the fun of Christmas is in the anticipation! But it is kind true! I hope that you will find a fun & meaningful way of looking forward to Christmas and this Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!!!
If you have a unique way that your family “counts-down” to Christmas or celebrates advent, please share in the comments below! And let me know if you try any of the above ideas and what you think about them!
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