Before we get into some ideas for daily activities for Advent, I’d like to share a “few” easy ideas for making your own Advent calendar. Each of these options have store bought versions, if you’d prefer to buy something.
Here are 3 basic styles, and links to a lot of (nearly 50) pictures/instructions to give you inspiration. I’ve stuck mainly to ones that are quick and easy, inexpensive, don’t take up much room, and are easy to store. There are, of course, many, many other ideas. If you want to put “treats” (small gifts/candy) in some of your days, you will want pockets, envelopes, bags or boxes of some kind, rather than just windows or tags.
If you want to see all these ideas at once (and a lot more that aren’t listed here), and not have to click on each link, after reading this just click the link at the end that goes to my Pinterest Advent board.
1. Make your own traditional window calendar (or tags). Print out a Nativity (or other) picture on card stock. Make a numbered window grid (also on card stock), and cut the windows. (Cut on 3 sides, score/crease on the 4th, but do not cut. Also do not open the windows, leave them closed.) Glue the edges of the window piece over the top of the picture. Open 1 window each day.
If it’s flat and just flips, I’ve included it in this section, whether it goes on a board, in a frame or as a banner.
Ideas for inspiration:
This idea uses “windows” (cards that open anyhow) but the pictures behind are not Christmas-y or a large picture. Put photos of those you want to remember in prayer through the holidays, or just write your activity inside.
<< This one uses old Christmas cards for the pictures behind the numbers, that are windows of a house.
Rather than cutting all your windows and leaving them attached to one sheet, you could glue individual “windows” (cards) to a poster board or something similar. Or tack them to a cork board, like this.
What could be simpler than tags? This one hangs manila tags in a frame (looks like on cup hooks). Put your Scripture/activity on the back and turn them over. Include bells/ornaments or not. These manilla tags aren’t quite so simple, but I’m including the link anyhow, as it may give you creative types some inspiration. They’re decorated with junk drawer findings.
These free printable chalkboard tags hang on baker’s twine draped on a chalk board. Super simple. Download, cut out, write your activities and hang.
These snowflakes, >> could be hung in windows rather than on stair rails, or they could be hung as a banner on a wall or stairway, or even from a hanger (like these packages). These flakes were cut with a die cut, but you (your children) could cut your own.
This BINGO (make it JESUS?) board has wooden nickel tags that hang over each number, to be removed on the day. Just write your activity on the back.
Like Inchies? Hang 25 Christmas decorated ones on a board. Number the other side and turn them over on the day.
<< This vintage-y one has simple tags with numbers, and decorated on the back, hung rolodex style.
I’m including these clothes pins in this section. Paint clothespins and number them. Glue to a board or hang on a ribbon to make a banner or arrange around a wreath. Attach tags or any type of the pockets below.
2. Make 25 numbered pockets and hang along a banner on a wall or in a grid on a door. These can be made from fabric, felt, or card stock paper. Put a tag in each pocket, with the Scripture for the day and to give you direction for the day’s activity (if you are doing them). Alternately, you could put a symbol in each pocket to hang on your Jesus tree – and an occasional small gift, if you’d like.
If it’s a pocket, envelope, or bag it’s in this section. Many of them are bunting (flag banner) style. Many of these ideas were also made to hold gifts, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy a bunch of cheap junk to put in them.
Ideas for inspiration:
<< This is the only Nativity based one I found. A download pattern for the pieces, to make out of felt, is included.
This one is similar in style, without the flair of the picture–a simple, traditional pocket Advent calendar, with felt pockets sewn on a fabric backing. Tags are put in the pockets.
This burlap pocket banner >> is what inspired me to look for more “different” types of Advent calendars. Walmart carries this printed burlap ribbon. It’s quite inexpensive.
Use clothespins or ribbon to hang all kinds of pockets to ribbon or twine. Little paper bags (colorful or mini brown ones) or this one with little decorated bags hung with little clothespins.
Or baby socks, or small felt stockings, or these fabric ones, (or several others on my Pin board) or toddler mittens, or even pockets from men’s shirts.
This vintage pocket garland Advent calendar is a little more elaborate, but I included it for inspiration for those that want a calendar design to go with their vintage decorations. If you’d like to make it simpler, don’t transfer to fabric, just print vintage images out and put your Scripture or activity on the back.
No room to hang a banner? Put your little decorated pockets on a binder ring or these cute ones on a board.
These little muslin tea/spice bags are stenciled and then hung by push pins on covered cork board. Decorate with small trinkets or ornaments, if you want.
The cute pocket banner is made with homemade decorated envelopes. >>
Make your pockets even simpler by using pre-made envelopes. This one uses plain white envelopes (with pretty insides) on a bulletin board. Or brown coin envelopes; this one includes a free printable. Or use various colored envelopes of various sizes and just use washie tape to attach them to the wall. If you don’t have wall space, just line your envelopes up in a small, low box.
3. Make a box or other 3 dimensional decoration to hold your numbered tags in order.
Ideas for inspiration:
<< I love this little box (not so much the tags) you can make that would hold 25 manila tags, in order, that you could decorate as much or little as you’d like. Simple, and small for those that don’t have much room for a wall hanging or banner. It isn’t meant as an advent calendar per se, and the directions here are for using an envelope punch board. But you could replicate it easily (if you don’t have a punch board–but they really are wonderful!) Or you could make 25 of these and hang them from a ribbon or twine.
Cover each “hole” in a mini muffin tin >> with a pretty paper covered magnet. Put your activity slip inside.
This pretty jar is filled with 25 decorated mini matchboxes. Need simpler? Just place colorful strips of paper with your activities in a jar.
<< Brown paper star pouches, hung from a pine bough, are made of 2 layers sewn together, with a treat (activity) inside. I saw a really cute version of this hung with a poster of the lyrics, “Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. This is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.” Downside to this one is your stars disappear, one by one, each day. Upside, you don’t have to store them.
These 25 ornaments are easily made from a free printable. Hang them on a ribbon as garland, from a hanger, or… Put slip of paper with your activity written on it inside.
Recycle those toilet paper rolls into this snowflake pockets calendar or use 25 “tubes” to make this simple house shape. Super simple and since it’s just TP rolls, you could throw it away rather than store it, if you’d like. (But you could decorate it a bit.)
I’ve tried to not include many ideas that have 25 containers that you’ll need to store, take up more room, usually take more time and cost, (and are unnecessary if you aren’t putting gifts in them). But this one was cute and not a gift holding one. Wooden spools >> with paper wrapped around them, with the number on the outside and Scripture/activity inside. Unroll one each day. Free number printouts included – that you could use for any of these ideas.
These would require buying 25 little storage containers, but they’re cute and small and easy, so I included them. They require 25 little round tins that you add a magnet to the back of each and a paper circle with your number on the lid. Dress them up a little more and put them on a backing board, like this.
I’ve given you nearly 50 ideas for making an Advent Calendar, and I have several more I didn’t link to, on my Pinterest Advent board. You could spend a lot of time on Google or Pinterest finding multitudes more.
Perhaps one of the simplest Advent Calendars you could make is a plain ol’ paper chain, using decorated paper (that shows on the outside of the rings) and writing your activities on the inside. Tear off a ring each day to read the activity.
The best one for you to make will be the one that you will get made and use this year. You’ve got a week. Get started. But whether you make an Advent Calendar or not, purpose to spend the next 30 days preparing your heart to celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.