NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Christmas Advent Calendar Ideas


As a child, Advent calendars were one of my favorite traditions with my family. We typically had two calendars, a hanging Santa with pockets full of candy, and a nativity Christmas storybook. Of course, we rotated the days throughout the family so each person had equal opportunities to enjoy the candy or open the door for the next part of the nativity story. I recall those cozy nights with fondness as we gathered together as a family with warmth and merriment. 

Whether your children are anticipating Santa Claus or learning about the nativity story — or both — an Advent calendar is a wonderful way to make the holiday extra special! In this post, we have a guide for purchasing pre-made Advent calendars as well as how to make DIY Advent calendars! Regardless of your preference for the holiday, you’ll find several Advent calendar ideas here!

  • The History of the Advent Calendar
  • 10 Fun Advent Calendars
  • Exciting Ideas for the Holiday Season

The History of the Christmas Advent Calendar

Advent originated as the season between the last Sunday of November and the following three Sundays in December for the Church to prepare for baptism after the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle (Allen, 2010). The time of Advent, derived from the Latin word for “coming,” has been a marked season of celebration since the 4th century.

In the 19th century, German protestants would burn a candle each day immediately preceding December 25th or would mark a chalk line on the wall to signal the days. They eventually began hanging a daily devotional image, which led to the creation of physical Advent calendars (Wakelam, n.d.).

In the 1900s, the first cardboard printed Advent calendars gained popularity after the design of Gerhard Lang. However, a shortage of cardboard in World War II caused the production of the calendars to cease. After the war, Advent calendars became wildly popular once more when Eisenhower was seen opening an Advent calendar with his grandchildren in a circulated newspaper photograph (Allen, 2010).

Through the years, Advent morphed into preparation for celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25th. For non-religious families, Advent was enjoyed as a countdown to Christmas or other holidays, usually with an emphasis on gift-giving and Santa Claus. However, many religious families still light candles during Advent, often in church services. Traditionally, four candles are used, three of the same color and one different (for example, three purple and one white). A new candle is lit each day until all four burn brightly on Christmas Eve.

  • Advent was observed as long ago as the 4th century.
  • Advent was originally a season of preparation for baptism.
  • Over the years, Advent has progressed via German Protestants.
  • Lighting candles or marking walls with chalk
  • Hanging devotional images
  • Finally, creating the first wooden Advent calendar
  • The first printed Advent calendar originated in the 1900s by Gerhard Lang.
  • Eisenhower was a major influence on Advent calendars becoming a Christmas tradition.

Advent Calendar Ideas for Your Holiday

10 Fun Advent Calendars

Advent calendars are a wonderful way to build anticipation for the holiday season. Children love opening the little doors or digging candy out of pockets. Many calendars are unique these days; for example, you can easily create our DIY paper bag Advent calendar at the end of this post with just a few household items! An Advent calendar can be purely for fun or to tell a story, such as the stories of the nativity or St. Nicholas.

Whether you choose DIY Advent calendars or pre-made Advent calendars, we have something here for every family. But, if none of these quite tickle your fancy, feel free to browse Amazon or Pinterest for more ideas! (These links will take you away from Homeschool.com.)

The Story of Christmas Advent Calendar

Christmas Advent Calendar
Amazon: $12.70

Illuminated Revolving Musical Wooden Advent Calendar

Illuminated Christmas Advent Calendar
Amazon: $37.99

Wall Hanging Burlap Bags Advent Calendar

Wall Hanging Christmas Advent Calendar
Amazon: $22.99

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar
Amazon: $11.99

Red Wooden Advent Calendar

Red Wooden Christmas Advent Calendar
Amazon: $44.99

Large Felt Santa Advent Calendar

Amazon: $26.59

Wooden Gingerbread House Advent Calendar

Amazon: $42.98

Stockings Advent Calendar

Amazon: $18.99

DIY Woodland Animals Advent Calendar

Amazon: $24.90

Light Up Wooden Advent Calendar

Amazon: $38.99

Advent Calendar Ideas for Your Holiday

Bonus: DIY Advent Calendars

While some of us prefer pre-made options, DIY can be fun and extra special in the end because you can put your stamp on the project! Pre-made Advent calendars are, of course, still special, but certain families prefer making decorations themselves. Plus, a DIY Advent calendar can be a fun holiday craft! It’s something to help keep the kids entertained and serves a purpose, too. Win, win!

Brown Paper Bag DIY Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Ideas for Your Holiday

Advent Calendar Printable
Click for our free printable page!

What you’ll need:

  • Our free printable Advent calendar cards
  • Small brown paper bags
  • Advent calendar gifts/candy
  • Mini clothespins

Instructions:

  • Print our daily calendar cards
  • Cut out the cards
  • Fill 25 brown paper bags with a small gift or candy
  • Fold over the bag opening and secure it with both a clothespin and one of the cards!

DIY Cookie Cutter Christmas Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Ideas for Your Holiday

What you’ll need:

  • Small brown paper bags
  • Cookie cutters
  • Sewing needle
  • Sewing thread
  • Scissors
  • Marker

Instructions:

  • Use a cookie-cutter to trace a shape on the bag. Shape ideas:
    • Stockings
    • Mittens
    • Candy canes
    • Christmas trees
    • Bells
    • Stars
  • Place a gift or candy in the paper bags.
  • Stitch together along the traced cookie-cutter outline.
  • Neatly trim off the extra around the stitching.
  • Write daily numbers on the Advent gifts from 1 to 25.
  • Open & enjoy one per day!

Additional Exciting Ideas for the Holiday Season

Homeschool Holiday Gift Guide

References

Wakelam, A. (n.d.). The history of Advent calendars. Doing History in Public. WordPress. https://doinghistoryinpublic.org/1-advent-calendars/#:~:text=Like%20many%20others%20aspects%20of,line%20of%20chalk%20each%20day

Allen, S. (2010, December). A brief history of Advent calendars. Mental Floss. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/26522/brief-history-advent-calendars

Courtney Newman

Courtney Newman is a homeschool graduate with a love for writing. She is also currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Health Science at University of the People. Other than writing, her hobbies include reading, yoga, visiting the beach, and meditating. She lives with her husband and pets in Virginia.