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16 DIY Advent Calendar Ideas

Learn how to create unique homemade Advent Calendars with these 16 creative DIY Advent Calendar ideas! The list includes a variety of projects including garland style Advent Calendars, stocking Advent Calendars, punch-out calendars, and ornament calendars.

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Six different homemade Advent Calendars with the words, "DIY Advent Calendars to Make".

I love finding creative ways to count down to Christmas. The Advent season is really special and kids enjoy getting involved with day-by-day Advent Calendars.

Taking time to focus on the Advent season gives kids and families a chance to think through what the world was like before the Messiah came. A world that was waiting, wondering, and hoping.

What a surprise it was when a tiny baby resting in a manger was revealed as the Messiah!

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11, English Standard Version

There are a huge variety of Advent Calendars ready to purchase, but I think it’s more fun to craft your own.

When you create your Advent Calendar, you can:

  • Customize the color and style to fit your Christmas décor
  • Reduce waste and reuse your calendar every year
  • Choose what goes inside (no more junky clutter or stale candies!)
  • Skip the “stuff” altogether and make a calendar filled with meaningful events or activities to do as a family

How to Save Money on Advent Calendars?

If you have been buying Advent Calendars for each member of the family, you know the expense can add up! Calendars for kids that have 24 small toys (one for each day of Advent) are usually around $30. Calendars for grown-ups can be over $100 depending on the items inside.

When you make your own calendar, you can opt for more budget-friendly ideas. Homemade calendars also tend to be reusable year after year.

So, if you want to save money on Advent Calendars, try making your own! Use one calendar for the whole family, choose a reusable calendar idea, and opt for daily quotes, Bible verses, or simple activities instead of purchasing toys or candy to fill the calendar. You could also try a daily devotional or picture book read-aloud for a daily “calendar” instead.

What is an Advent Calendar?

An Advent Calendar is a special calendar used to count down the days prior to Christmas. Whether made from fabric, paper, cardboard, or wood, it features 24 compartments each filled with a small daily gift. Calendars typically start on December 1st and end on December 24th. Each day a numbered door or compartment is opened to reveal a small gift or treat.

Advent is the season of waiting for the Messiah. Taking the days prior to Christmas to build anticipation and embrace a season of waiting is a good way to remember the wonder and joy of the Savior’s birth!

While anyone can enjoy an Advent Calendar, they are very popular with families with kids as a way to embrace the Christmas season and create special memories.

Advent Calendars have also become one more way for secular companies to promote materialism (and over-buying) during the holiday season. While there is nothing wrong with opening an Advent calendar full of toys or treats, sometimes it is refreshing to opt for a simpler idea.

If you want to do a DIY calendar that doesn’t feature daily gifts, try one of the following ideas:

Read a Devotional

Try reading a daily Advent devotional with your family such as Come, Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp.

Read a Daily Picture Book

Or, consider wrapping your Christmas picture books and unwrapping and reading one each day of December prior to Christmas. You can also just place books in a basket or on a shelf to avoid the waste of the wrapping paper.

Try Experiences Instead of Gifts

You can also figure out 24 “experience” related ideas to have your kids unwrap each day. Ideas might be winter activities like sledding or ice skating. You can also include ideas that get your kids thinking about the spirit of giving—such as volunteering at a home for the elderly, purchasing toys to donate, or donating groceries to a food shelf.

This type of calendar can be overwhelming in an already busy season. Simplify it and use events already on the calendar to fill the calendar up.

What Do I Put in An Advent Calendar?

If you want to go with a DIY Advent Calendar that has a daily “gift” for your kids, you can choose any small items. Calendars often include chocolate, candies, or small toys. You can also try Bible verses, quotes, activities, or even recipes. Get creative and tailor the suggestions to something your kids or family members would enjoy.

A tip is to divide up a set (like a Lego set or Playmobil set) into the compartments of a reusable calendar. You can do this with thrifted toys (which usually do not have the original boxes!) to save money and reduce waste.

How Do I Make a DIY Advent Calendar?

Advent Calendars are SO fun to make! The project itself is a special family memory. Plus, since many DIY calendars can be reused every year it’s an opportunity to reduce clutter and waste.

You can purchase pre-made calendars with boxes, drawers, or compartments to paint or decorate yourself. Or, use one of the 16 following tutorials to create something totally unique!

DIY Advent Calendar Ideas

Enjoy crafting your own one-of-a-kind Advent Calendar with these 16 imaginative DIY ideas! Get the kids involved and craft your own calendar this Christmas season!

How Do I Make a Last Minute Advent Calendar?

Maybe you love the ideas listed above, but you aren’t sure you have enough time to create a calendar from scratch.

If you ran short on time and are scrambling to do a last minute Advent Calendar, here’s a quick idea. Head to a local home décor store (I like HomeGoods or TJMaxx) and find their pre-made Advent Calendars. You can also shop Advent Calendars online at Amazon to find some good ones.

These calendars are basically wooden boxes (sometimes in the shape of Christmas tree, house or other theme) with 24 drawers or small openings to place gifts. Fill the calendar with 24 Christmas Bible verses and read one per day with your family. You can also fill the calendar with small toys or treats.

What Theme Should I Use for My Advent Calendar?

While you choose gifts for the calendar, it’s helpful to pick a theme and stick with that. Popular themes are Christmas toys or ornaments, a daily treat (like a chocolate candy), a daily activity (such as ice skating), or even craft supplies or puzzles.

If you’d rather purchase an Advent Calendar, you can do so in many stores around the holiday season or shop online at Amazon or another retailer. Search “Advent Calendar” + any other keyword you have an interest in (like knitting, chocolate, skin care, books, etc.) and see what you find!

Can Advent Calendars be reused?

It depends on the type of Advent Calendar. Traditional cardboard calendars with doors may be challenging to reuse, but some reusable options, such as fabric calendars with pockets, can be filled and refilled year after year. That’s why I love creating a DIY calendar! Most are reusable and it’s nice to avoid the waste of a one-time use calendar.

More Christmas Ideas

If you enjoyed this roundup of DIY Advent Calendar ideas, you will also enjoy the following Christmas posts:

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