Love, Joleen: Countdown to Christmas: The Best List of Holiday Advent Ideas to Buy or DIY

Monday, November 6, 2017

Countdown to Christmas: The Best List of Holiday Advent Ideas to Buy or DIY

Disclaimer: This guest post contains affiliate links.

Advent in the Christian sense refers to the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and is a time of prayer and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. More commonly it has become a “countdown to Christmas” often beginning on December 1 and proceeding until the 25th. 
Many families, especially those with younger children practice advent with an “advent calendar” which often includes opening a small door or package and retrieving a piece of candy or small token. Remember the classic advent where you’d open a little perforated door each day and retrieve a piece of chocolate? There are some more interesting options now. In the past we have loved LEGO® advent calendars and they have tons of offerings now from Pirates to LEGO® Friends to Star Wars. If my daughter were still little, I wouldn’t be able to resist this adorable Tree advent from Melissa & Doug or a Disney Tsum Tsum version. Ready made Advent calendars come in a wide variety of styles and to suit all kinds of interests.


With the popularity of DIY, Advent calendars have become increasingly creative and sometimes quite complex. Whether you are a hardcore crafter or a slap-it-together at the last minute person, we have some great ideas for creating an Advent calendar in your own home… from simple to involved.
  • Wrap 25 books (Christmas, Christian or other) and line up on mantle, stack under a tree, in a basket, wagon or other festival location. Unwrap a book each day and read together as a family. Print our FREE PRINTABLE!
  • Wrap a variety of items for “family time”. Start with festive pajamas (to wear all month long), and include books, movies, board games, a new mug for cocoa and other items that help promote family time.
  • Wrap a variety of small gifts in boxes, either all the same or varying sizes. These can be stacked, applied to a decorated cookie sheet with magnets, placed under a small tree or displayed however you see fit.
    Magnetic matchbox advent calendar from Flea Market Studio
  • RECYCLE! If you’re like me, you save all the things so you can make crafty things with them later. I love the idea of making “crackers” out of empty toilet paper tubes (or cut down paper towel tubes) filled with small treats, wrapped in wrapping paper and numbered to open each day. Or turn match boxes into wee gift boxes by wrapping in paper scraps and numbering as well. The matchboxes can be displayed any number of ways, from a clear candy jar to this fun magnet board like the one pictured above by my friend Lilia of Flea Market Studio, or stacked into a tree shape.
    Pocket Advent Calendar Tutorial on Short Attention Span Studios
  • Think outside the box! I loved this idea inspired by Pottery Barn to use a 24 pocket shoe organizer stenciled with numbers so much that I made my own tutorial! Simply hang up and stuff each pocket with gifts and treats.
  • Got paper sacks? Use plain lunch bags or cute paper “goody” bags (I love THESE gold striped numbers and THESE aqua patterned ones) to put candy and treats in. Number them with stamps, hand writing or stencils. Hang from a makeshift clothesline or use a clothes hanger.
  • Are you like me with a variety of mismatched envelopes all over the craft room?   Gather them up and decorate with washi tape, rubber stamps, stickers and stuff them with coupons, gift cards or Christmas activity cards. (See my FREE printables) If you are using your advent to read/ study scriptures, include a verse in your envelope.
  • Build an Advent into your decor. Decorate windows, trees, mantles or banisters. Or use an old type tray or soda crate. Utilize the openings in an old type drawer to add decorative bits, numbers and candies or small mementos. The larger compartments in old soda crates are great for ornaments or small toys. String lights or ribbons across a window (real or vintage) and add ornaments or clothespins and tags, envelopes, cards, etc.
  • Ornaments – ornaments can be displayed (and numbered) in any number of ways. Choose family favorites or take the opportunity to purchase some new ones. Place one ornament on your holiday tree each day.
  • Uh oh, did you wait until the last minute? Grab a cute jar or basket, print off my FREE "25 Holiday Activities" Printable onto cute or colored paper. Fold them up and place in the jar. Each day, choose one piece of paper. Do that activity as a family and remember the reason for the season.



Still need MORE ideas? Check out my Advent Ideas board on Pinterest!
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Heather Simpson-Bluhm is an artist, writer, virtual assistant, hand-letterer, and trier of all things crafty! But also wife and Mama to a beautiful, smart and funny as heck teenager (what!?)... Living, loving and creating on California's Central Coast, and tellin' all about it. Follow along on her blog and Instagram.
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