// DIY Advent Calendar + Activity Ideas (Perfect for Kids!)

DIY Advent Calendar and Activity Ideas for Kids
When it comes to holiday traditions, I really wanted to try and set some in place for Toby as he grows older. I don't want to dictate what will or will not become a tradition, because that's a little weird (right? Just me?), but I'm hoping this one will stick. Who knows if it'll even be successful! Despite the fact that we're not a religious family, I wanted to do an advent calendar of sorts for Toby so he could experience the magic that is the holiday season. I wasn't sure how to balance the little treats and learning actual lessons, so we opted to do an activities-based calendar. Each day in December Toby will unwrap one of the little "treats" and there will also be a piece of paper with an activity on it. The treats are just meant to be little rewards for awesome behavior (and if we're being totally honest, something to tide him over until Christmas is actually here. Have you ever tried explaining time/dates to a 4 year old?!). The activities are meant to promote kindness, selflessness, and family memories. We have everything from "donate toys" to "ride around to look at christmas lights in our pjs". It's something he'll get to look forward to each day and I'm excited to play a part.
Handmade Activity Advent Calendar - DIY - Kaelah Bee
Handmade Activity Advent Calendar - DIY - Kaelah Bee
Handmade Activity Advent Calendar - DIY - Kaelah Bee
For our calendar we opted to use both wrapping paper and canvas tied up in twine to wrap his treats. I was super inspired by this pin and wanted to do something similar. I nabbed this perfect wrapping paper from Target because I loved that it wasn't holiday-specific. We grabbed a bunch of little trinkets, candy and art projects from the Target "Dollar Spot" bins, as well as a few toys from the Dollar Tree. We don't go crazy at Christmas in our house because 1) 4 year olds have a non-existent attention span and 2) we don't want Toby to grow up spoiled or unaware of his privilege. Toby, like a lot of children, tends to get more play out of smaller items than he does a big ol' roarin', chuggin', loud gadget. (Seriously... this is the kid who carried around the bottom half of Mike's phone case for weeks pretending it was some sort of Samurizer or something.) We thought this was the perfect way to ease into Christmas and treat him for all of December, all the while going easy under the tree. Everything we included in his advent would be suitable for a child's stocking. We spent less than $30 on the whole advent calendar! Of course some of the activities will require extra purchases (movie tickets, etc), but you're able to pick and choose as you please if you decide to set one up for your kiddos! 

It's hard to believe Sunday will already be the 1st of December... and since this is so last minute, I'm sharing our Advent Activities with you in case you want to whip up your own version before the end of the weekend! Here are the activities we laid out for Toby:
  • Make popcorn garland for the Christmas tree
  • Go through our toys and donate to a local food bank
  • Make DIY ornaments (Dollar Tree has a great faux stained glass set for kids! $1)
  • Make gifts for Toby's pre-K teachers
  • Attend the local Christmas parade
  • Send Santa a letter
  • Make hot cocoa
  • Visit Santa
  • Invite family over for dinner/cake (Toby's birthday!)
  • Make a gift for dad (with help from Mom)
  • Make our own holiday cards (Target has a DIY card kit for kids for $1)
  • Make little favors for Toby's class party
  • Watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (Toby's favorite movie)
  • Make a 2013 ornament (I'll share that on the blog!)
  • Go see a holiday movie in theaters (Frozen!)
  • Make/Paint/Create gifts for others (grandparents, especially)
  • Make homemade dog treats for Pip + Georgia (+ the cats, too)
  • Bake cookies to give to family and friends
  • Make a gift for mom (with help from Dad)
  • Wrap presents to put under the tree (gifts for grandparents/aunts/etc)
  • Do at least one random act of kindness (but shoot for 5!)
  • Make a gingerbread house (we put this on a card with a clue for Toby to find the hidden kit)
  • Hop in the car in our PJs and go look at Christmas lights together
  • Bake Santa a fresh batch of cookies (and put out carrots for the reindeer!)
  • Give/receive gifts with a grateful heart
Overall I am so excited for December! I know it'll be a lot of work to get all of these done, and there may be some days where we have to move things around or adjust to life's plans, but I can't wait. Toby told us in a very matter-of-fact tone the other night that he knew Santa wasn't real... his 7 year old cousin told him that guys just put on costumes and pretended. He wasn't upset, but my heart broke into a million pieces. I want so badly for him to believe. I want the magic of Christmas to stay alive for a few more years... so we've got some plans in the works. We'll make a believer out of him! Even if he chooses to remain skeptical, I know he'll truly love the advent calendar and all of the fun activities we have planned together.

Do you do anything like this with your kids? I'd love to hear how it's worked for you in the past! If you have any great activities or charitable suggestions to add to next year's list, that'd be great! I can't wait until he's old enough to volunteer somewhere (and actually be of service).

Handmade Activity Advent Calendar - DIY - Kaelah Bee


  1. I love this advent calendar. Seems like a good balance between items and activities. I also like the most of the activities seem very achievable things to me, and balance out of home and in-home activities well. Good luck!

  2. This is so cute! Thanks for all of the ideas, that's the part I always have trouble with when wanting to make an advent calendar.

  3. This is such a great idea, I have two boys but I may try and put together something like this for both of them :) thanks for the inspiration x

  4. I LOVE that you're going to try to make a believer out of him! He will have the rest of his life to be a skeptic, these years are the time for magic! I always rolled my eyes at Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy etc. until a friend described them as guardians of innocence (I think it's from the movie Rise of the Guardians?) and I just loved that. I'm glad I was able to think of it that way while my little guy is still young and we have some magical years ahead of us. Happy holiday season to your cute family!

  5. I love this, and just wanted to let you know the link to Target DIY cards isn't the right one--it links to newegg.com!

  6. This is a great idea. In a few years when my daughter is a little older I'm definitely doing something like this for her! xo

  7. Hey Kaelah, this is a fab idea. Definitely gonna try it out!

  8. I love your blog! It inspired me to try blogging ON blogger again. Thank you for the re inspiration. Do you have any advice on blogspot html and layouts? I'm not even sure if this is the correct place to ask. :)

  9. i don't have a child but this is a wonderful idea! i can also see customizing this for couples and making a romantic/charitable one where it's a mix of volunteering together and doing activities with the other person for a month.

    i'm imagining something where you have x amount of volunteer stuff (going through clothes and donating to a shelter, choosing a recipient from the angel tree together, etc.) and then split the rest of the days in half— each person fills out a fun holiday thing to do and then you alternate each persons ideas throughout the month so it's still a surprise to the other person.

    i hope that makes sense. also i have no clue why i just went into that much effing detail on a comment but whatever, i guess i got excited about the idea of spending a month of fun with someone instead of secretly trying to find out what they want for xmas hahaha.

    okay love you bye!

  10. Awwww, this is so cute! Toby is definitely going to love this! Whenever I have kids (way in the future!) I definitely want to do something like this!

  11. LOVE this. We do Yule and Christmas around here and last year started a little tradition of 13 days of Yule and since Darius was only 1 1/2 last year (and it was our first year trying to do something new and special) it was a bit of a struggle. He got several books (Dollar Tree was my best friend) and I wanted to include more activities this year since he's getting older and this list is fabulous!!! Definitely going to sit down and plan ours out a little more. I know that last year we did the whole "golden ticket" to stay up late and see Christmas lights but I think he got bored kind of early. Haha. This year he's much more... I dunno how to describe it, but I think he'll get more of a kick out of it this year. Or maybe I'm just hoping. ;) Again, fabulous list and I'll definitely be gleaning (er, stealing) some of your ideas. I was worried it was going to end up all about the presents because there wasn't much else I could think of that he could do so thank you bunches!!

  12. "Toby, like a lot of children, tends to get more play out of smaller items than he does a big ol' roarin', chuggin', loud gadget. (Seriously... this is the kid who carried around the bottom half of Mike's phone case for weeks pretending it was some sort of Samurizer or something.)"

    Sounds EXACTLY like my son. He knows he's super super special when we get him a toy though (birth of our second child, Christmas, birthday, etc).

    And I am totally doing the advent calender for my two boys next year, so its pretty awesome that you added this list so I can have a start on what to do when making the advent calendar for them.

  13. I checked out a bunch of Christmas books from the library and wrapped them each individually; each night we move the candy cane in our little Target advent tree calendar and then open and read a book. Totally easy and fun for my two year old, while letting us have some extra time reading a special new book at night!

  14. This is so SPECIAL!! Great ideas and what a loving family you have. Happy Holidays!

  15. I heard the parade got cancelled. Do you know when they plan to reschedule?

  16. I LOVE your advent caledar! SO creative! This year we opted for a simple chocolate advent calendar, but usually we like using one that we handmade together a few years back. We always hide candies and other little treats in there for one another. Happy Holidays, sweet lady! xo

  17. Wow, this has got to be the best list of advent ideas I have seen! Especially love the last one about having a grateful heart... great last minute reminder for kids before the big day. Given it's only January 28, I can hopefully pull off something like this in time for next Christmas - thanks!

  18. Thanks for this! This is probably the best Advent list I've seen, and I'm always looking for new ideas. I especially love the last one about having a grateful heart... great last minute reminder for kids (even adults!) before the big event. Thanks :)


HEY! Thanks for dropping by. xo KB