35 Family Advent Calendar Ideas!
Updated: Mar 1
Welcome and Merry Christmas 2022!
Below you will find a list of 35 fun family Advent calendar ideas to celebrate the Christmas season and serve as a countdown calendar to Christmas Day.
In this blog post, you will find:
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When is Advent this year?
Advent begins on the first Sunday after thanksgiving, and ends on Christmas Eve, December 24. Advent includes four Sundays.
2022: Sunday, November 27 through Saturday, December 24
2023: Sunday, December 3 through Sunday, December 24
2024: Sunday, December 1 through Tuesday, December 24
2025: Sunday, November 20 through Wednesday, December 24
We start our at home bible study on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, and then the calendar activities on December 1st. This is the first year that my husband and I are doing an Advent bible study together (we usually do one with the kids with church). We purchased the Advent bible study from Daily Grace Co. to guide us along.
Every day of December until December 24th is filled with reminders of the reason for the season and includes our Christmas traditions.
See below on how to plan an activity advent calendar.
What can you put in an Advent calendar?
You can fill your Advent calendar with candy, a sweet treat, a candy cane, activities, Legos, and more! You can buy pre-packaged Advent calendars or fill your own. There are many creative ways to fill up your Advent calendar, so choose what makes you happy!
Want the kids to open a gift each day? Great! Candy canes, activities, and even love notes work. Whether you like a homemade advent calendar or a purchased one, the ideas is to just celebrate Christmas together.
35 Family Advent Activities and Ideas
Here are 35 great ideas to make your own advent calendar full of Christmas activities for the whole family!
It doesn't need to be fancy or even purchased. Write down your ideas on slips of paper, and put them into a brown lunch bag.
Draw out one paper each day to encourage the Christmas spirit! You could even make a paper chain Advent calendar and write on each chain link.
Another idea is to repurpose gift tags and write activities on the back. Hang them on a twine line with dollar store clothes pins and you have your own DIY Advent calendar.
Let's dig into your family advent calendar ideas!
Make hot chocolate or hot cocoa.
Go ice skating or have a play date at an ice rink with friends!
Eat candy canes.
Make a gingerbread house. Your local grocery store, Target, Walmart, and Amazon sell gingerbread house kits. I usually grab the one from Target each year - one for each child. Of course, you could make your own from scratch as well.
Watch a Christmas movie! We have four cards in our advent calendar that include these movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Elf. They started watching Christmas Story last year, but they were not into it (YET!). Family movie night is a holiday tradition in our home and we often have the Christmas books to pair with the movies.
Sing a Christmas carol at home together or sing Christmas carols to your friends.
Read a Christmas book.
Bake cookies - cookie cutters like these are useful for this time of year but you can keep it simple with drop cookies or packaged cookies.
Make reindeer food.
Write a letter to Santa.
Make a Christmas gift list.
Perform random acts of kindness throughout the day.
Drive and look at Christmas lights.
Decorate the Christmas tree.
Make an ornament. A few years ago, we decorated our entire tree with homemade ornaments using these clear ornaments. We added beads, and wrote on the outside with permanent marker. It was a wonderful way to decorate the tree and spend time with grandparents that year.
Make paper snowflakes.
Get pictures with Santa.
Read a story about the birth of Jesus. We read the story of the birth of Jesus in the bible (Luke 2: 1-20) as well as the children's book several times in December. The kids have a play nativity scene to react the story as I read and keeps their hands busy while I read. We have owned the Melissa and Doug Nativity and the Fisher Price Nativity.
Make a snowman (if you have no snow use fake snow!).
Donate a gift to someone in need.
Make a gift.
Donate food to a local food pantry.
See a Christmas show or play.
Make a Christmas slime.
Play a board game.
Make Christmas cards.
Dance to Christmas music.
Eat Christmas pancakes (top with whipped cream and red and green sprinkles) on Christmas morning!
Make a Christmas wreath.
Go Christmas shopping.
Color a Christmas coloring page.
Decorate the windows.
Make Christmas wrapping paper.
Track Santa (starts December 1 on Norad's website).
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How to create an Advent display
The Advent Wreath is a circle symbolizing the perpetual eternity of God and everlasting life because of Christ. You will often find an Advent wreath as a tabletop display with four candles.
Churches light one candle each Sunday leading to Christmas, and you can do this at home as well. The four candles of the Advent season represent four virtues:
The first week’s candle represents hope.
The second week's candle symbolizes love.
The third week’s candle represents joy.
The fourth week’s candle symbolizes peace.
The Advent calendar for family Advent activities is a countdown to Christmas, and typically starts on December 1. In our home, we hang a stocking advent along our fireplace mantel. I add an index card into each, written with one of the family advent activities named above.
I could not find a link for the one we have (purchased many years ago), but here is one from Target and you can find ones on Etsy as well. Some years I may add a new idea to the calendar or hang it in a different spot. I do not make a new advent calendar each year. I reuse the index cards originally made and sometimes add a special treat on particular days to shake it up.
Last year, we gave our puppy a treat from this Dog Advent calendar. Ranger loved it when the kids opened a flap from his treat box!
We also assemble a Lego piece from the Lego City Advent kit. We love Legos in our house! This is a fun way to get the kids engaged in understanding the countdown to Christmas, and a lesson during the holiday in sharing for my children (we have one set and three kids). They have so much fun playing with the pieces on the display. I do my best to keep track of these particular Legos and repackage it for the following year after Christmas. The little doors have held up well and serve as a fun holiday advent calendar for the kids to own.
Another tradition is to have a candy on each day of the countdown. This Advent season is filled with hope and anticipation. Finding a little chocolate or candy behind a door on an Advent display is a great way to celebrate this holiday season with a young family member.
Print a Blank Master Christmas List
Click here to print this a blank to-do list. Customize your list using these 35 ideas and add your own.
How to plan an Advent calendar
Start jotting down a list of ideas and activities you want to do. Then re-number them according to the day of December you wish to do them (holiday lights on a Tuesday night may not work for your family).
Planned day examples might be visit Santa, drive through Christmas lights show, and scheduled play dates with friends. If you include "make a gift list," you may wish to include that on December 1st or 2nd to allow for time to shop.
Write out each day to fill up your Advent calendar. I just use index cards because we always have those and they are inexpensive.
Add your planned days first, then complete the Christmas Advent calendar with activities that you can do any day (such as color a Christmas coloring page or make paper snowflakes).