Christmas Countdown: Creative Advent Calendars

‘Tis the season! It’s officially time to get all the holiday decorations out of storage and start decking the halls.

One tradition we keep in our family is counting down the days to Christmas with an Advent calendar. My kids love having something to look forward to each day as we wait for Santa Claus to come to town. My family is Swedish, so our tradition is also to leave out something on Christmas Eve for Tomte, an elf from folklore.  Tomte has even been known to stop by with gifts for the kids on Christmas even (while Grandpa “holds the reindeer outside”) so we really have to start planning early.

If you want to involve your kids in making this year’s Advent calendar, here are a few ideas I found online. Click on the links for the full instructions.

Advent calendar muffin tip tops!

 

Muffin Tin Advent Calendar: Great for kids (and mamas!) with a sweet tooth. You can buy these muffin tin covers on Etsy for under $10. Then you just fill the tin with small treats and trinkets, and each day your kids get to take off one cover and enjoy that surprise. You can use them year after year with different items as your kids grow.

 

 

 

Santa's beard advent calendar.Santa Beard Advent Calendar: Add a cotton ball each day to fill out Santa’s beard by Christmas morning! You print out the pattern and let the kids color in Santa’s face, and then all you need is some craft glue and cotton balls to create the beard. If you want, each of your kids can have their own.

 

 

 

Good Deeds Advent Jar: The holidays are a perfect time to teach your kids about giving back and helping out.  To that end, use the advent calendar to your advantage, Moms!  You can decorate a jar together and then write down 25 “good deeds” that are easy for your kids to accomplish. Things like: clean up the playroom, make a thank you card for your mailman, help set the table.  Each day your child pulls out one item to do that day.  Who knows, once your kids get in the habit, they might have to turn helping out into a New Year’s Resolution!  One the jar is empty, you can fill it with cookies to leave out for Santa, plus tell your kids they must be in pretty good shape for gifts given how “nice” they’ve been…

Merry Early Christmas!

 

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30 Responses to Christmas Countdown: Creative Advent Calendars

  1. anna November 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    love these ideas! we go to the zoo every year on christmas day!

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      That sounds so fun and such a great tradition — you also always need little plans and trips even on holidays, at least I do! A whole day at home with all of them is too long, even Christmas!

  2. Jennie November 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Wow, I LOVE all your ideas! And, thank you for posting them in time for me to use this year! One side of my family is Swedish too and we love our Spinning Angel Chimes Candle Holder and look forward to lighting another candle each week.

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      I need one of those candle holders — do you celebrate Santa Lucia Day? We do! I am going to start a bit of baking next week, this is my favorite month of the year!

  3. Anitha Kuppuswamy November 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    “Every year Santa left one big unwrapped gift under the tree along with wrapped gifts. The big unwrapped gift could be anything from a teddy (when I was a kid) to a vacuum once I was in college.”

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

      Vacuums become really good gifts once you get a bit older!!

  4. natali November 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    The advent calendar is without a doubt my favorite tradition. I’ve been sewing one for months now and I’m almost finished, can’t wait to take it out and use it every year with my boys :). Another fun tradition is making gingerbread men, just love chrismas cookies!

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

      I love Christmas cookies too — what kind of advent calendar do you have?

  5. Katy November 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I love that muffin tin advent calendar idea, but I think we’ll do the cotton ball Santa beard one because it’s easier for now! As for our favorite traditions, we like to go to the city tree lighting, and the night time light parade. Each year I trace my daughter’s hand print onto our tree skirt. Eventually it’s going to look so great! For breakfast on Christmas morning we always have Cinnabons. Yum!

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      I love Cinnabons, yummy! I love that hand tracing tradition — did you see the Thanksgiving decorations we did with hand tracing and foot tracing where you make a turkey? Thanks for commenting!

  6. Chris November 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    This is the first year for us aa family, time to start a new tradition. Think we are going to start it of right by showing giving is more fun than receiving!

  7. lace November 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    My favorite tradition is sharing a large breakfast on Christmas morning and then giving gifts afterwards.

  8. ToCo November 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Stockings! Those were always fantastic when my sister and I were growing up and I made sure to do the same. My sis and I were allowed to get uop anytime as long as we didn’t wake the folks, and that time together was special! :D

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

      That is really nice!

    • Melissa Lawrence November 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      My mother made our stockings too – I will post a picture of them, I have some really nice ones that I ordered online for the kids with their names on them, they pretty much do the trick!

  9. Janice November 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    We always go to Opryland Hotel in Nashville to see the Christmas lights. My grandson looks forward to this every year. We always go on Christmas Eve driving around listening to Christmas music on the radio. I love the season too, because I love to bake! I love making Christmas cookies, chex mix and finding good recipes to try

    • Melissa Lawrence November 28, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      I’ve never been there but I’ve heard so much about it and am dying to go… I love baking too and how cozy it makes the house!

  10. Kathy November 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    When I was growing up, we were allowed to open 1 present on Christmas Eve ( it just couldn’t be the biggest present) Me and my cousins would look at the presents and study them and try to figure out what our granny had got us.
    Now, I continue this tradition with my son and daughter. We also make the Christmas chain and last year we wrote down a Christmas themed thing today so each day we had a new activity! We really liked do this! ( we never got any snow to play in but we pretended w/ Kroger plastic bags and threw them at each other for our snowball fight)

  11. caligali November 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    How Cute is the Muffin Tin Advent Calendar? And I’m definitely going to incorporate the Good Deeds Advent Jar this year! Thanks a Million!!

  12. Christine November 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    We’ve done some different things from making the Jesse Tree to short Advent readings from the Bible. I’m looking forward to adding some crafts that will help the children anticipate Christ’s birth.

    Thanks for your ideas!

  13. OrganicCents November 29, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Our biggest tradition is simply putting up our Xmas tree. Each year we invite family over make hot cocoa and apple cider. We have ornaments going back 2 generations. when we unpack them someone shares the ornaments history and a memory. The best is to see my daughter participate. I die to hear her Christmas memories – incredibly precious!

  14. sharon November 30, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Well we are Jewish so our traditions are different for Chanukah…..we cant go a year without homemade potato latkes…..so much better then you can find in any restaurant. I tried one year doing a healthier version using zuccini and sweet potato and baking them….huge fail. Indulge on the real kind of potatoes and frying for holidays. The only time I will fry at home is for traditional holiday food.

    • Melissa Lawrence December 5, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Congrats sharon, you’re the winner of this giveaway! We’ll be in touch about your prize. I think you’re so right — there are some dishes that just don’t work when you try to do a healthy version. I say for a special treat during the holidays it’s ok to indulge!

  15. Sharon November 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Thank you for all your ideas!

    As a kid growing up, we had the usual traditions of looking at lights, baking and drawing names for each other but we also went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. It was a candlelight service and we would sing Christmas songs. I would always look forward to going

    • Melissa Lawrence December 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

      Sharon, we did the same thing! Midnight candlelit mass (I grew up Catholic) — honestly, it was the only mass of the year I really loved!

  16. Brad November 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    My parents divorced when I was young so one thing I loved about the holidays was getting together with my family. Both my parents remarried and I had a brother with my mom and 2 sisters and 2 brothers through my dad and my step mom. We would all go to my grandmother’s house ( I called her mema) and there would be at least 50 people under one roof. It was great, getting to see all the family that I didn’t get to see every day. I think having an extended family is great

    • Melissa Lawrence December 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

      Brad, I loved reading your comment and wish you a wonderful holiday season with your family!

  17. Melissa Lawrence December 5, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments — I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. We’ve chosen our winner for this giveaway but we have more running on the site so check them out! Happy holidays!