This is the third year that we’ve done a family advent calendar. In 2018, I was browsing advent ideas online and came across this adorable paper house advent calendar on Etsy. The houses are just precious, and they come with a variety of advent activities. When I fill the houses each year with activities, I use a mix of the activities that originally came with the houses and ideas that I came up with. At the bottom of this post, I have 24 ideas for a DIY advent calendar!
After that first year of cutting out, taping, and building the houses, the only steps I really have are to organize all my ideas on a calendar. I find this is the best way for me to keep things running smoothly. I don’t necessarily want us to have a long movie night in the middle of the week or have a sleepover in the living room on a school night. So, I block out the activities that have to take place on certain nights and fill in the rest of the days with easier activities.
The first big activities we have to block out this year are visiting the Polar Express train in Bryson City, going through the Christmas Lights at Hill Ridge Farm, decorating Christmas cookies, and building gingerbread houses. We might also add in our Christmas Eve service or our family Christmas Eve lunch.
Once I get those down, I look at the Christmas specials calendar online and mark down the movies or shows we’ll want to watch. There are honestly so many shows on tv during this time of year. You can definitely check the schedules for your favorite channels, but I actually use this website. They make it very easy to find all the good ones. The must-see shows are in bold. After all those activities are marked down, I fill in with smaller activities like eating dessert before dinner, eating dinner by candle light, or having a sleepover next to the Christmas tree.
I write each activity on a small piece of paper, fold it into the correct numbered house, and tie up the house with a little ribbon. The first year, I tied them onto a stick. I love the rustic style. This year, I will probably arrange them on the table runner in the dining room.
24 Activities for a DIY Advent Calendar
Hot cocoa for dessert
Dinner by candlelight
Write and mail Christmas cards
“Sleepover” next to the Christmas tree
Chocolate orange for dessert
Dessert before dinner
Drive around and look at Christmas lights
Make or wrap teacher presents
Make treats for neighbors (when we’re not in a pandemic…)
Wrap Christmas presents
Decorate Christmas cookies
Read a Christmas book together
Watch a Christmas movie together
Christmas Popcorn Bar (just like the Halloween Popcorn Bar, but Christmasy!)
Gather donations for our church’s Christmas box charity
Build and decorate gingerbread houses
Visit a local historical Christmas event
Visit a live nativity
Make peanut butter pine cone feeders for the birds
Roast marshmallows and make s’mores for dessert.
Make heart baskets for the tree
Light the angel chimes after dinner
Have a Christmas pajama day
Watch The Nutcracker
Take a trip to the library to check out Christmas books (or put books on hold!)
Thanks for checking out my list of 24 activities for a DIY advent calendar! If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.
You can find more Christmas content here.
Here are some more advent calendars: