I love advent calendars so much. I love that it gives us a little something to do every single day, a little something to look forward to. In our house we have three advent calendars. (If you haven’t gotten an advent calendar yet, check out our list of some of the best ones this year.) Up until a week ago we had four, but one died a spectacular death when we took all of the decorations down. Several years ago my mom bought advent calendars for the kids and has made it her tradition to fill them every year. What I love is that the kids LOVE these calendars but they are so simple!
In addition, we have a family advent calendar. Basically, we use it as a way to dole out surprises over the month like activities and small treats. If filling an advent calendar seems daunting, don’t let it! There are no rules! You can fill each square with the same item, or use some super easy cheater activities.
I’ve compiled a list of all of the things you might consider filling your calendar with. This post contains affiliate links.
This is super easy and obvious. You can put a small candy behind each door and call it a day.
My mom gave the kids a small eighteen-inch tree and puts a tiny ornament in each day of their calendar. The ornaments get recycled every year and yet they’re still thrilled to add them to their tree. We love this set of fourteen mini-ornaments which can be doled out throughout the month.
Or rather, the promise of reading a book. Our stack of holiday books grows every year and reading a book every night is one of our favorite traditions. You could wrap each book for a nightly surprise, or simply put them all in a basket and have everyone choose their favorites. At some point during the month, surprise everyone with a new book or a gift card to go choose a new one as a family. I think How to Catch an Elf would make a great addition to our collection.
This could be the most challenging item on the list, but it’s not meant to be. We take a look at our calendar of events for the month of December and include activities like our annual visit to the Christmas train, their night at Grandma and Grandpa’s while we have our holiday party, and even a surprise trip to Disneyland to fill their calendars. If you’re doing an activity each day, make things easy on yourself. In addition to big activities, include things like “drink hot chocolate,” “eat candy canes,” “watch a Christmas movie,” and “read a Christmas book.” These are all fun, but easy to incorporate into your day. Here’s a fun list to pick and choose from.
I love this idea for a reverse advent calendar and this one for random acts of kindness. You could ask your kids to collect items from the pantry to donate or take a look at their toys for those that can be passed along. Depending on the ages you’re dealing with you could make plans to volunteer,
I’m talking coins here, not stacks of cash, but you do you.
Think things like iTunes, Starbucks, ice cream, fast food, even gas cards for older kids would be a hit.
Think about the things that you usually buy during the holidays – hot chocolate, candy canes, peppermint Chapstick (perhaps that last one is just me) and drop them into your advent calendar. As an added bonus these are consumable and not adding to the pile of stuff that accumulates during the holidays.
If you haven’t picked up an advent calendar (or three if you’re us) we love this list of DIY Advent Calendars. We would love to hear how you countdown to Christmas! Share your favorite advent calendar traditions with us in the comments.