'This post was originally published in Nov 2017. It was updated in December 2018 to include updated information I wanted to share with you.'
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Easy ways to make an Advent Calendar part of your Christmas tradition
Counting down to Christmas is always so much fun.. especially for kids. And an Advent Calendar really helps to make that lead-up time to Christmas more tangible, more meaningful. It also means that you don't have to answer the ongoing question, "How long until Christmas? When can we unwrap all the presents?"
Why use an Advent calendar?
Sure, an advent calendar looks great as part of your festive decorations as you gradually add, day by day, to the finished calendar. And, it can add to the Christmas fun. But I found that, although there are many calendars with Superhero, Princess or Lego themes there are rarely ones that remind kids of the real Christmas story. And the last majority of any commercially presented ones I discovered had really cheesy graphics.
Never fear..Advent calendars can be found that will keep the focus of Christmas on the birth of the Saviour. And, depending on your choice of calendar, it can help your kids focus on the joy of giving and serving others, too. But these are more difficult to find than you might imagine.
What do I need to consider when choosing an advent calendar?
Well, there are some commercially prepared advent calendars that are lovely. Some would make lovely gift ideas for friends or family. Some commercially prepared advent calendars present small gifts for each day leading up to Christmas. Some are simple thin boxes with perforated windows with a hidden recess for a small chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. Others are books with windows or flaps to reveal something of the nativity story as Christmas approaches.
Create a family tradition- your own advent calendar
But an advent calendar is even more meaningful if you can make it yourself and personalise it as a family legacy. The treats and activities created for and added to your advent calendar can revolve around the interests, activities and favourite choices of your family. And you don't have to dash off to the shop to find it. Most of the ones I've listed below can be downloaded and printed.
And you can create variations for each year.
So, here are a number of such suggestions listed below that you might like to consider. There are 5 selections listed below. (But read through to the end to find with a bonus calendar ready to download, print and create. There is also a FREE dainty decoration design to print and use on your own tree. Find it following the article.)
Then you'll discover:
1. O Holy Night Advent calendar- gradually create your own nativity scene as you countdown to Christmas.
2. Share the Love Advent Calendar- count down to Christmas with simple ideas to share the joy of the season with others.
3. The Wonder of the Greatest Love- a beautiful pop-up book with 25 daily readings plus little decorations to hang on the pop-up tree.
4. An Illustrated Advent Calendar- download and print this calendar of illustrations to colour, games and activities
5. Muffin Tin Advent Calendar- This is a bit of fun..Simply print these out at home. Then stick adhesive magnet paper to the back of the cardstock and cut the circles out. They will fit perfectly over a 24 count mini muffin tin. Just fill with candy and you're done!
Find these and more below....
1. O Holy Night Advent Calendar
FocusontheFamily has produced a free advent calendar, O Holy Night, plus instructions for an advent wreath.
Download and print the calendar. Then highlight each day leading up to Christmas with a character from the nativity story plus a Scripture reading and devotion. Beginning December 3, your advent calendar builds a nativity scene with the daily characters from the advent calendar.
You'll also find a suggestion for creating an advent wreath to remind your family of God's never-ending faithfulness.
2. Share the love advent calendar:
This resource from iMom focuses on building a legacy of giving with your family.
Each day you'll find sweet and selfless ideas to help your kids experience real Christmas joy through the spirit of giving.
3. The Wonder of the Greatest Gift
'This is an heirloom, a Christmas tradition, a wonder for the child in all of us!'
The Wonder of the Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp is a beautiful pop-up book with 25 daily readings plus little decorations to hang on the pop-up tree. 'Read your daily love letter from The Greatest Story ever told, right from our genesis beginning to our King’s coming under Bethlehem’s star — so your people know the WHOLE GREATEST STORY, from Creation to His Coming, & how His love has always, always, always been coming for you!'
4. An Illustrated Advent for Families
This advent pack includes 5 weeks of family devotions that focus on a different carol each week.
There are 5 colouring pages that combine to tell the story of Jesus' birth and the advent calendar with fun family activities.
Instructions for creating and illustrated advent wreath with paper candles complete the fun family advent pack.
5. The Muffin Tin advent calendar:
This one from Etsy is just a bit of fun. Includes 24 adorable numbered circles. Simply print these out at home on white cardstock. Then stick adhesive magnet paper to the back of the cardstock and cut the circles out. They will fit perfectly over a 24 count mini muffin tin.
Here are some more ideas that you might like to consider.
The Dainty Bauble Advent Calendar
This calendar (find the link for this advent calendar below) is easy to print and create. Check out the simple directions below. Use the back of the decoration to either: a. write a Scripture verse on the reverse b.include a fun activity c. provide instructions or clues to find a hidden treat or d. include all ideas.
You might decide to just attach a small wrapped chocolate or treat to the reverse of the decoration. Or you may keep it simple and glue a second copy of the decoration to the reverse for extra strength and durability.
However you decide to personalise it, this advent calendar combines the elegance of the past with the energy and minimalism of the future. It's sure to become a family treasure.
What you'll need:
*Download and print the files for the 25 decorations. (Print onto a good quality card. You might also want to consider a good parchment or linen textured card.)
*silver cording for the hanger and perhaps paper clips.
* double-sided tape and normal tape.
*small Christmas tree that will look attractive on the table or side table.
1. Download, print and cut out each of the 25 advent calendar decorations.
Use a good quality card and it looks even better if it has a light texture. Print and cut out a second copy if you intend to back each decoration with its twin. It means that it looks great even if the wind blows the decoration to reveal the back. Leave the back blank if you intend writing something on the back or attaching a small treat.
2. Cut a hole in each tab and thread a small piece of silver cord through the hole as the hanger.
3. Make a paper clip hanger if you'd prefer.
If you prefer to have a hanger that's a big more substantial (especially if your kids will be hanging the decorations) you might like to use a paper clip for each decoration. Just tape the paper clip on the back with the loop just visible above the rim of the decoration.
Use a second copy of the decoration and attach on the back to cover the taped paper clip. I used double-sided tape. it's just a bit neater. Sometimes glue can cause the card to slightly buckle. Now slip a piece of thin cord through the loop of the paper clip as the hanger.
4. Use the reverse side for a message or gift.
You don't have to add anything else but if you want, you can write a Scripture verse on the back or a clue to where to find the day's treat. You can also decide on a fun activity for each day: sing your favourite Christmas carol, go out for ice-cream, decorate a gingerbread cottage.. If you don't want to add that info on the back of the decoration, just use slips of paper with the activity or treat written on each piece. Pop all of the papers into a small bucket or container. Your kids can reach in and choose one each day to read and complete.
5. Create a special area for your Advent tree calendar
Set up your small tabletop Christmas tree and start adding one decoration each day leading up to Christmas Day. I found an inexpensive tree at Kmart for about $10. There was a lovely natural-looking bare tree at another store but it was expensive. I think you could make something similar with a good sized branch set into a pot of plaster of Paris.
So.. that's about it.... pretty simple... and you can check out the summary slideshow below.
Oh... and you can find also a FREE pair of Christmas decorations to download and print for your own Christmas tree. Normally, these vintage-inspired decorations would cost $4.95 but they're free for you to download, print and use. See below.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.