25+ Advent Calendar Ideas for a Magical Festive Season
“For Christmas is tradition time—Helen Lowrie Marshall
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.”
Christmas is a time for many traditions in our home, and they are a huge part of what makes the season special. Decorating the tree, spending time with extended family, seeing the Christmas lights together, attending the carols, we love it all!
One of our biggest traditions is our advent calendar. I made ours when our first daughter was tiny, and have been filling it with special activities and ideas every day of December leading up to Christmas since. I would say this is one of our favourite parts of Christmas and it makes the season more than just one day. In fact, I think we enjoy the time leading up to Christmas the most! Nothing gets us into the festive spirit more. So much joy, connection, belonging, family time, laughter, creativity, and yummy food comes from this tradition every year.
This year, I thought I would share what I have organised for our family’s advent. I’ll include a list of all the activities and a link to more information if it’s an idea I’ve found on another site. I’ve numbered them just to make it easier to read, but I’ll also include a downloadable pdf at the end where you can print them all out (without numbers). I don’t like to put specific days for each activity in my calendar because it allows for more flexibility. Say we have a busier day than I anticipated and we’re not up for an involved craft, I can easily swap days around and have a Christmas movie night instead! There are some blank spots and extra ideas in case you’d like to substitute some too! I also like to add a little picture of some of the crafts or baking activities so the kids can see what it looks like too. Enjoy!
25 Activities for Your Advent Calendar
1: Advent spiral and candles
Last year we made this advent spiral from clay and it ended up being one of their favourite advent activities. Unfortunately, it broke when we packed it away so we’re making a new one this year. All you need to do is make a spiral from air-dry clay with 25 indents. Then we made small balls from magic clay and placed one in each hole every day, counting down to Christmas. We sat this in the middle of our table and also made some beeswax candles to go with it that we lit at every dinnertime through advent. You can buy beeswax candle making kits like we did last year, but this year I have just bought some candles.
2: Christmas activity books
We’ve had a much loved Christmas activity book for a couple of years that is well and truly used up now. This year I’ve ordered a new one for each of the girls. I’ll hide them somewhere in their bedrooms and leave a clue in the advent calendar.
The books I ordered are:
The Usborne Christmas Activity Book
The Usborne Little Children’s Christmas Activity Book
Usborne Minis Christmas Puzzles
3: Snowy pinecone garland
You can find the instructions for this beautiful garland here.
4: Whittle a Santa
Instructions for these adorable Santa’s can be found in the book ‘Your Wild Celebration‘. How cute are they?
5: Snow globe
This year we’re making DIY snow globes. You can find instructions here.
6: String Christmas trees
Tutorial for string trees can be found here.
7: Go Ice Skating
In our part of the world, Christmas is in the middle of summer and very hot! We like to go ice skating with friends and get a taste of winter.
8: Make and decorate gingerbread houses
This is one of their absolute favourite advent activities! Last year they made one each. We make them close to Christmas so they’re still yum to eat on Christmas day.
9: Christmas poetry teatime
We’ll be doing a special poetry tea time where we write and read Christmas poems. I’ve ordered a couple of Christmas poetry books to read too (here and here). We’ll decorate the table Christmassy, eat some Christmas treats, and read poetry together. I’ll also pick one of the poems to read while the girls paint what they think of the poem.
10: Go to carols
We’re going to the carols in our local area this year
11: Christmas party with friends
Each year we have a Christmas end of year party with our unschool group.
12: Find 10 weird Christmas facts and share them over dinner
I’ve bought a book called ‘Weird but True Christmas‘ to help them with this one.
13: Go and see the Christmas lights
14: Perform a random act of kindness
15: Christmas writing prompts
You can find some great prompts here.
16: Write a letter
I include this one every year. Christmas is about family so write a letter to a loved one and make their day!
17: Have a Christmas carol dance party
Put on your Christmas PJ’s, get out the disco ball, and dance!
18: Hide something in the tree
This is a good one for a busy day! I hide four candy canes or chocolates on the tree for them to find.
19: Spread the Christmas cheer and leave a gift or a note for the postman
20: Christmas baking
This year we’ll be making some of these Christmas biscuits.
21: Embroidery hoop ornaments
Find the instructions here.
22: Make Christmas scrunchies
They’re all the rage right now, and my girls love sewing. You can find a free pattern here. Not into scrunchies? They have plenty more free Christmas patterns here.
23: Bake cookies for Santa
24: Christmas eve play or concert
Put on your own play or concert for your family on Christmas eve! Sing carols together! This year, the girls are writing a play they are going to perform for everyone who is there on Christmas eve.
25: Merry Christmas!
On Christmas day I put some candy canes in the pocket and a note saying Merry Christmas. There is definitely no time for any more activities today!
Along with the advent calendar activities, there are a few more we do. Hey, we love Christmas ok? Sometimes you just can’t cut it down to 24 things! I thought I’d share a few more in case you need to substitute some!
Letters to Santa
Each year they write a letter to Santa, although this might have to be done before advent starts so Santa can get organised. You can find lots of free templates online if you want some pretty paper!
As you can see we also do matching Christmas PJ’s from Dec 1. I’ll hide the new ones for this year under their pillows on Day 1 of advent to find too. We also have Christmas bedding and after they’re asleep on Nov 30 we’ll change their doona covers for a festive surprise when they wake up on the 1st of December!
We have a tub of Christmas picture books that are packed away all year and only come out during December. You can find some Christmas book recommendations here.
The older girls always listen to an audio book before bed too, and in December we pick a Christmas book. This year we’re excited for the new Christmas novel by J.K. Rowling! We’ll be having a Christmas book club with friends too!
We also have a few books that we read a bit of every night in December:
How Winston Delivered Christmas
The Jesus Storybook Bible (to hear and learn about the Christmas story. If you read a chapter a day until Christmas you end up just after the wise men part if I remember correctly).
We love Masterpiece Society art classes and do a few of their Christmas themed ones in December.
On Christmas eve night we track Santa on Google and get super excited before bed! You may even find me tracking Santa long after the kids are asleep. You’re never too old to believe in magic!
And of course we watch tons of Christmas movies! We make a list of the ones we want to watch and make our way through them. Plenty of classics and some new ones too! You can find some of our favourites here.
And that’s it! We take making Christmas magical seriously. I hope these ideas have helped you too! I’d love to hear what traditions you have?
And don’t forget to download your printable advent notes to put in your advent calendar HERE.
Umm. You know that J.K.Rowling is transphobic, right? Endorsing her books is harmful towards trans people, including trans kids, especially considering that her beliefs show up in her books even if unintentionally.
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