Activity Advent Calendars Made Easy


We have been doing an  activity advent calendar for about 7 years now and it truly is one of our family’s favorite things about the holidays.  My boys are so excited to take turns opening up our activity for the day during the entire month of December.  If you have been thinking of doing an activity calendar, but don’t want to add more to your plate, then read on!

Help, I can’t add one more thing to my list!

Planning for an activity advent calendar may seem stressful.  After all, the holiday season is already jam packed with commitments and to-do’s.  Finding 24 more things to do may seem like a chore.  There are lots of ways to plan activities to make things easier and more enjoyable for you.

Start small and go simple

The first year we had an activity calendar we only did about a week and a half of activities. We started on the 13th instead of the 1st. That suited my then 1 and three year old just fine!  You could have activities every other day or just on weekends.  We try to stay away from sweets, but you could have a tiny sweet treat or small gift on the days that seem too busy for an activity. Try repeating activities–we have several nights of family games and holiday movies throughout the month.

taking the stress out of advent activities

Use what you already have planned.

When I sit down to plan out activities, I look at what we already have planned and write those in first.  I include trimming the tree, our annual trip to decorate gingerbread houses at the Art Institute, and the boys’ cub scout trip to visit a local retirement community.   Every day does not have to be a surprise.

Say no to other commitments.

If planning activities for your family makes you say no to other commitments, it’s already having a benefit. Spending time with your family, making memories of your own is what is important.  Having an activity advent calendar always reminds me of the quick passage of time and the need to be together as a family, making precious memories of our own. We keep our commitments few and plan for lots of down time.

activity advent ideas

Just go outside.

Many of our activities involve getting outside.  After all there is no bad weather–only bad clothing!  We bundle up and take hikes in the woods, walk around our local arboretum, go play at our favorite playgrounds(they are empty!)

Plan what YOU want to do.

Make sure you make it enjoyable for yourself and plan for the activities that you want to do.  I love doing puzzles with my kids, so I make sure to get in at least one or two puzzle nights during the month. I also love a picnic dinner by the tree.  We turn all the lights off, leave on the tree and plant ourselves in front of it for dinner.

easy advent activities

Have your kids plan some of the activities.

Kids usually come up with really simple ideas.  Mine always ask for extra screen time–which in our virtually screen free household is a huge treat. They often request a read aloud from the stack of holiday books we have out this time of year. My kids also love hot cocoa (easy!) and sledding and night hikes thru the neighborhood sporting their head lamps.

It’s the time spent with you that they will remember.

What kids really want is your time. These activities can slow your family down, start wonderful traditions, and teach kids what the holidays are really all about.

Here are some of our favorite activities to get you started:

Have a family game night. ( We love Labyrinth, Monopoly, Payday, and Memory)

Spend time working on a puzzle together.

Create structures with gumdrops and toothpicks

Eat a red and green dinner.

Trim the tree and listen to Christmas music.

Decorate cookies with friends.

Go to a playground.

Have a picnic dinner under the tree.

Drive around to see the Christmas lights.

Enjoy hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Take a night hike around the neighborhood.

Bring cookies to the neighbors.

advent activity calendar making wrapping paper

Make your own wrapping paper. We love to print with bubble wrap.

Spend $3.00 on books at Goodwill.

Do something nice for your brother.

Decorate your room for the holidays.

Make homemade sparkle playdoh.

Whether you’re an activity advent calendar veteran or not I’d love to hear some of your favorite things to do  and how you make this month super special for your family….have at it in the comments!!