Tomorrow is the 1st of December. 24 days till Christmas – the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a time of great joy and anticipation and what better way to savor these next few weeks than with a thoughtful Advent Calendar. I know mama’s time is running out but don’t worry. I’ve teamed up with a few friends to bring you easy Advent Calendar ideas that you can have ready by tomorrow!
So what is advent and why celebrate it?
Advent, from the Latin word “coming”, has been celebrated for centuries. During early Christianity it was a time (4 weeks) in preparation for baptism. Now however, Advent is associated with the “anticipation” of the day we celebrate Jesus’s birthday – December 25th. This tradition dates back to the mid-19th century, when German Protestants made chalk marks on their doors or lit candles to count down the days leading up to Christmas.
For our family Advent is a time to actively slow-down. The 24 days leading up to Christmas is a spiritual time when we reflect upon the year that has passed while remembering how good and how gracious our God truly is. We celebrate the gift of Jesus together.
Creating your own Advent Calendar
Advent calendars can be whatever you want them to be as long as it’s part of a countdown to Christmas.
- Make or buy 24 fabric bags to reuse every year.
- Brown paper bags work just as well (but won’t last).
- Fill an old shoebox with 24 envelopes and open one every day.
- If you’ve got space, stack 24 small gift boxes on top of each other.
- Make your own wall hanging or buy one.
- Buy a novelty Advent Calendar from your local grocery store but be mindful, the laminated cardboard can’t be recycled.
- Don’t like the idea of sweets of chocolates? LEGO has really cool options too.
- The possibilities are endless and Pinterest has so many cute ideas too.
Our favourite Advent Calendar to buy is from local company Busy Bean Activities.
This adorable little Advent Town gives us all the hygge feels and looks so pretty. Best of all, the houses can be recycled or stored and used year after year.
The kit includes everything you need to set up a beautiful Advent Calendar in no time at all:
- 24 pre-cut DIY houses to build & decorate
- 24 number stickers
- Decor stickers and Glitter (leave this out if you want to go plastic-free)
- Filler ideas
- An activity sheet
- Hours of magical memories!
There are 3 different size houses to fit a variety of goodies and if something doesn’t fit. Just add a note and take out the surprise from the cupboard when needed.
Activities, treats, gifts, and Advent Calendar ideas!
1. Mayalief has created a wonderful FREE ADVENT Scripture download (in English and Afrikaans).
24 pieces of scripture sharing the story of Jesus. Simply download, print, cut-out and read together as a family daily.
Click here for the
2. A treat Advent Calendar
Add a little something to eat…
- VArious chocolates! Lindt balls are a must in our home.
- Candy Canes
- Mini marshmallows
- Dried fruits
- Energy balls
- Mini Rice cakes
- Jelly Beans and other candy
- Rice puffs and teething biscuits for babies
Anything will do.
3. A Gifts Advent Calendar
Keep things sugar-free with…
- A Water paint set
- Lego mini-figurines
- Other small toy figures that your kids love or collect
- Hair accessories for girls
- Play dough
- Books are fantastic
- Bath crayons
- Bath bombs
- Fun Colouring pencils or crayons
- Christmas ornaments
- Colouring books or pages
- Small cars
- Sidewalk chalk
- Wooden teethers for baby
- Water beads for fun sensory play
- Bath toys
- DIY Christmas hand puppets
- Slime for brave mamas
- Christmas pyjamas
- Cute cutlery
- A Christmas movie
- A Festive CD or even an iTunes voucher
- A small Christmas Nativity Scene (The characters and animals can be found on different days revealing the entire scene just before Christmas).
4. A family-activities Advent Calendar
- Scout the neighbourhood for Christmas lights or go somewhere special. We always visit the Jakaranda Kinderhuis Liggiefees.
- Decorate the Christmas tree together.
- Have a picnic under the Christmas tree.
- Have your picture taken with Santa.
- Listen to Carols by Candlelight.
- Have a Christmas-themed scavenger hunt.
- Festive movie night! (You’ll find our Ultimate list of must-watch Christmas movies here).
- Make Christmas cards for friends, family, and neighbours. (Have a look at our easy DIY post here).
- Paint or print your own gift wrapping paper.
- Build a Gingerbread House (Annie’s Baking Club has the BEST gingerbread homes this year. Easy to assemble and with a choice between traditional or a pastel colour scheme).
- Easy Christmas crafting with Create your Day.
Keep the littles entertained for days with this beautiful Christmas Activity Kit.
Each kit includes:
- Christmas Scavenger Hunt (map and 8 items for your hunt included)
- Colour your own Christmas cards: set of 2 cards, envelopes and pack of 12 colour pencils
- Snowflakes seeds-that-grow, plant these with your child after the Christmas hunt
- 2 DIY wooden Christmas decorations (part of hunt)
- Paint (4 colours), brush, glitter & stickers included.
- All beautifully put together is a stunning wooden keepsake box that can be reused as a Christmas Eve box on the 24th.
- Bake Day! Cookies are a Christmas must whether it’s a family recipe or a store-bought premix. The kids don’t mind as long as you’re doing it together.
- Decorate the cookies you baked.
- Write a letter to Santa.
- Games night! Play your favourite board games.
- Go see the Pantomime.
- Enjoy breakfast in bed as a family.
- Have a Christmas dance party grooving to all those “Merry beats” on iTunes.
- Go ice-skating at the local Ice-rink.
- See your favourite new release as the cinemas.
- Have hot chocolate under the stars.
- Wrap gifts together.
- Attend a local Christmas market.
- Take a family Holiday photo at home.
5. A Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar
This one will take some thinking but giving back is never a bad idea and always worth the effort.
- Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
- Donation Day! Santa’s coming and we need to make space for all our new gifts and toys. Select a few items to donate to charity.
- Take cupcakes to the local police station.
- Take a walk in your neighbourhood or local park and pick up the trash.
- Make hot chocolate for the petrol attendees on night duty.
- Pack the dishwasher.
- Make some hotdogs or sandwiches, take a drive and hand these out to the less fortunate.
- Give mom the night off.
- Help your siblings with their chores.
- Make a bird feeder.
- Wash the family car.
- Phone grandma or grandpa just to say hello.
- Surprise someone with a compliment.
- Let a stranger go before you in line.
- Pick a flower and give it to someone special.
- Play with the family pets an extra while longer.
- Collect and donate canned foods to a local shelter in need.
- Put together a care package.
- Write a Christmas letter or card to a family member or friend living far away.
- Surprise the car guard with and extra tip, piece of fruit, cold drink or treat.
- Do the dishes without being asked.
- Clear the bookshelf and donate old books to hospice.
- Pay for a stranger (for something you can afford of course). This happened to us and it was such a surprise. We were about to pay for our donuts at Krispy Kreme when a stranger walked up to us offering to do so instead. At first, we declined but he insisted. It was such an unexpected surprise and left a lasting impression of goodwill on the girls.
- Make a day out of it visiting the sick or elderly at your local hospital or old-age home.
- Make some energy balls or cute Christmas cupcakes. Deliver them to the Emergency Room at the local hospital.
- Offer to babysit or host a playdate. It’s a win for the kids and a much-needed break for other parent over this busy time of year.
6. A Storytime Advent Calendar
It has taken a couple of years but we’ve finally collected 24 Christmas stories! So, from the 1st of December, we will be reading a different Christmas story at bedtime, ending with the nativity story on the 24th. We can’t wait!
That’s 6 Christmas Advent Calendar ideas to make your own. We usually combine a few making up 24 days filled with fun, generosity, and gratitude.
And if you think it’s too late, don’t! Do a 12 Day Advent Calendar… It really doesn’t matter how you choose to countdown to Christmas or if you even count down the days. As long as you are spending time as a family.
PHOTO CREDIT | Anje-Ilana van Dalen from Madison & West Lifestyle Division.