18 DIY Advent Calendars for Your Christmas Countdown

Get your kids excited about Christmas by making DIY Advent calendars filled with sweet surprises for every day in December.

DIY Christmas Advent calendar and young child

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For many families, the magic of Christmas spans throughout the month of December. Keep kids in the holiday spirit by using an advent calendar, which lets you count down until Santa makes his arrival. Each day, kids "open" the corresponding door (or box, envelope, bag, etc.) to receive a small treat—and the knowledge that they're one day closer to December 25!

Plenty of big-box stores carry advent calendars in the months before Christmas, and you can also find them at online retailers. But for a festive family craft, consider making your own DIY advent calendar! We rounded up fun options for kids and families; most of them can be created with materials in your craft drawer.

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Colorful Envelopes

Envelope Advent Calendar
Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh. Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

Gather colorful envelopes, and use pushpins to stick them onto a piece of corkboard. Number each envelope and place a small treat or a slip of paper with a fun holiday-themed to-do inside. (Psst ... save the candy for the last few days, since anything other than that may register as a disappointment once your child has gotten one piece! Unless you want to create a full-blown chocolate advent calendar, that is.)

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Stacked Up

Stacked Up
Marty Baldwin

Convert old boxes, wooden drawers, and coffee cans into a fun Christmas countdown calendar for kids. Fill each can and box with a treat, and then paint red, orange, and white stripes. Cut out numbers 1 through 24 from construction paper, attach to each of the boxes and cans, and then stack on your desk.

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Countdown Calendar

Toilet Paper Advent Calendar

Recycle some toilet paper tubes into this snowy Christmas countdown. Close your toilet paper tubes by running the bottoms through a sewing machine. Then, paint your tubes white and let them dry. Punch out snowflakes from blue security envelopes, and glue them on the tops of your tubes. Use a blue stamp pad to add numbers to the bottom edge. Wrap your ribbon or lace fabric around the corkboard and tack them in place—make four rows to fit all 24 days. Using clothespins, hang your tubes onto the corkboard.

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Hanging Advent Calendar

Handmade Hanging Advent Calendar
Dane Tashima

With this handmade Advent calendar for kids, the Christmas excitement starts now! To make, use low-tack masking or artist's tape to create the outlines of trees on paper bags, then paint with acrylic paints. Let dry completely, then add vinyl number stickers (available at office-supply stores) for each day. (Note that you'll need 13 1's and 8 2's.) Finish with clothespins in a variety of sizes for stumps and to hang on the tree from strings. Instead of putting in the usual tiny treats, stuff each paper bag with a love note or a prompt for a fun family activity.

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Ornament Coloring Book

Christmas Ornament Advent

Your kids will love coloring in a festive ornament each day as their way of counting down to Christmas! Create the outlines yourself (or find them online) to serve as a daily coloring page.

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Santa Hats

Santa Hats
Michael Partenio

Your kids will flip over this upside-down Christmas craft. Using holiday fabrics, cut and sew (or glue) pieces of fabric into cone shapes. Hot glue a white pom-pom to the bottom of each cone. Finish off each hat by sewing or gluing a thick band of fabric to the top of the cone—add a red button to each one and then hang a numbered tag by wrapping string around the button. Line up your Santa hats and attach them to twine with clothespins.

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Starry Trees

Starry Trees
Courtesy of Julie Ree

Hang your Advent calendar Christmas trees from a branch over your mantle. No one will even know there's a present hidden inside these beautifully designed boxes!

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Toilet Paper House

Toilet Paper Advent

Upcycle your empty toilet paper rolls to make a creative Advent calendar house. Here, we cut a circle from patterned scrapbook paper for each roll, slightly bigger than the opening. Then we pasted a white circle over top of the patterned paper, added numbers, and attached to the toilet paper rolls. We fit all of the decorated toilet paper rolls into a DIY house.

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Sweet Surprise

Muffin Tin Advent

Quickly convert a muffin tin into an Advent calendar! All you need is a 24-cup muffin pan (or two 12-cup pans), decorated card stock squares, scissors, and double-sided tape!

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Meaningful Messages

Ribbon advent calendar

This Advent calendar doubles as wall decor and provides a fun treat daily. Have the extended family write notes to celebrate the season. Roll them up and then attach the scrolls with safety pins to decorative ribbon.

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Pop-Up Calendar

Pop-Up Calendar
Blaine Moats

Build up to Christmas with this stacked Advent calendar! To make, cover a piece of foam board in festive wrapping paper to serve as your background. Then, paint 24 small tins white and let dry. Cut circles from the blue cardstock to match the size of your tins, and attach number stickers to the center of the lids.

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Advent Organizer

Advent Organizer
Adam Albright

Convert a small craft organizer box into this DIY Christmas Advent calendar. Just cover each box with a different piece of patterned scrapbooking paper and number them 1 through 25. Place them back into the box in random order, and then fill each draw with fun treats.

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Present Pouches

Present Pouches
Jason Donnelly

Line up your holiday treats and hang them on you wall. To make, cut out 36 ovals from fabric, about 3 inches tall. Paint the front of 24 of your pieces of fabric—outlining with a thick band and then adding a number in the center. Alternate red and green for the numbers. Then, cut the remaining 12 ovals in half. Sew or glue the half-ovals to the backs of your numbered tags, leaving the top open to form a pouch. Sew or glue on a ribbon loop to the top of your numbered pouches, and then hang on thumbtacks from your wall.

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Advent Envelopes

Advent Envelopes
Kim Cornelison

Seal your kids' presents and let them open one envelope every day. Fill your envelopes with little presents, candies, or loving notes and seal them closed with the number stickers—making sure to number them 1 through 24. Once all your envelopes are full, punch a small hole in the top, left corner, and thread a piece of string through to hang. Attach lines of string across a bulletin board with thumbtacks, and then tie your envelopes across the string.

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Clothesline Craft

Sock Advent Calendar
elsie marley. elsie marley

Don't stress when the laundry bandit steals one of your kids' socks. Turn the lonely leftovers into a fun Advent calendar to countdown the days to Christmas. Just hang a piece of ribbon or rope on your wall—you can make any shape you like, just make sure it's long enough to hold all 24 socks. Then, add the number stickers to your socks and attach them to the ribbon with clothespins. Place a special trinket or piece of candy inside each sock and let your kids pick a present every morning before Christmas.

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Christmas Village

Christmas Village
Courtesy of The Paper Pony

Get in the holiday spirit with an entire crafted town that doubles as an Advent calendar. Cut out different house designs from bright colored cardstock—cutting a number out of each one as you go. Add your designs to the front of white party bags, and stuff them with fun holiday surprises.

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Santa's Sacks

Santa's Sacks
Courtesy of A Subtle Revelry

Whether they're on the naughty list or the nice list, your kids can open one present from Santa's bag every day. Stamp numbers onto the front of 24 paper bags, and tie off the tops with pretty twine—don't forget to add a treat inside each bag. Fill a suitcase, a bigger sack, or send each package in your child's lunch box in the countdown to Christmas.

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Printable Advent Calendar

Printable Advent Calendar
Courtesy of Amy Locurto from www.livinglocurto.com

Your kids will love opening a special message from you each day! Create personalized notes with this free printable Advent calendar from craft blogger Amy Locurto. Slip in merry missives that say things like "Make cookies for Santa" and "Watch The Polar Express on movie night!" Each day you'll build excitement and create special holiday memories. All you need is a printer, a few sheets of scrapbook paper, tape and a circle punch.

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