Our DIY Advent Calendar


Our DIY advent calendar is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  Counting down the days ’til Christmas was something I did as a kid with a long felt pole and 24 hard candies fastened with yarn. I have such great memories of it and wanted to create the same for my boys-minus the candy!

The focus is on spending time together and doing good deeds.

I changed it up a bit and put the focus onto spending time together and doing good deeds.  Everyday my boys “open” an idea for a family activity. Most of the ideas are very simple and need little planning. We take night hikes around the neighborhood with flashlights, bake cookies, donate food to a local shelter, and make solstice candles for teachers. I sprinkle many family game nights into the mix, and make sure to watch a couple of festive movies during the month.


The calendar was created with all recyclables.

The calendar itself was  created with tin cans and glass jars from the recycling bin.  I let both of my boys(toddlers at the time) paint and draw to their hearts’ content and then wrapped the tin cans with their artwork or inserted the art into glass jars. My oldest son wrote the numbers onto circles cut from cereal boxes which I fastened to the cans and with a magnet or a clothes pin. Of course, we added a little glitter for some sparkly fun. I loved having even my young children have a part in the creation of the calendar.




Take the pressure off yourself and start small.

The first year we only completed about a week and a half’s worth of cans. We simply started our countdown around the 14th.  It was plenty for a 1 and 3 year old(and their semi-frazzled mama). We added more cans and jars the next year and counted down the entire month. Plan activities that are super simple: read aloud a great winter-themed book, make a trip to the library, donate your old, usable toys to a local shelter, drive around in pjs to see the Christmas lights.

Spending time together is the gift.

Each year, I am reminded of the quick passage of time.  It seems like only yesterday we were making our advent calendar and yet, here it is 7 years later and my boys and our lives have changed so much since then.  My heart just melts when I look at their early mark making and number writing. The activity advent calendar is my way of insuring we’ll spend lots of  moments together making  precious memories. It’s the time together that counts and that I want them to remember most.

Do you have any special activities to share?  I’m always looking for new ones to add to our month.

Did you see my unplugged gift guide?  It has lots of great ideas to make your gift giving easy.

Download my free ebook Flashcard Hacks: Creative, Low Stress Ways to Learn Math Facts CLICK HERE