Countdown to Christmas: Best Advent Calendars

Printable Advent Calendar
Courtesy of Amy Locurto from www.livinglocurto.com
Keep your kids excited about the holidays with a calendar filled with sweet surprises for every day in December.
Dane Tashima
Dane Tashima

Hanging Advent Calendar

With this handmade Advent calendar, the excitement starts now! To make, use low-tack masking or artist’s tape to create the outlines of trees, 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.

Sweet Surprise

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

Ornament Coloring Book

Your kids will love coloring in a festive ornament each day as their way of counting down to Christmas!

Toilet Paper House

Upcycle your empty toilet paper rolls to make a creative advent calendar house.

Photograph by Laura Johansen
Photograph by Laura Johansen

Clever Countdown

With its 24 openings, a mini-muffin pan makes a perfect base for a treat-filled Advent calendar. Because the numbered coverings are held on by magnets, you'll be able to bake with the pan again after Christmas.

1. Cut 24 circles 2 1/4 inches wide from a 12- by 24-inch adhesive magnetic sheet. Adhere them to patterned paper, then cut them out.

2. With a 1-inch circular punch, make 24 paper circles. Number them and use a glue stick to attach them to the magnetic circles.

3. If you'd like to hang the muffin pan with a ribbon, make two holes (see tip below).

4. Fill the muffin wells with tiny toys, stickers, bite-size candies, notes, and activity suggestions.

Crafter's Tip: To hang the pan on a wall, set one rim on a block of wood and use a hammer and a nail to make two holes. Loop a ribbon through them and tie.

Meaningful Messages

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.

Courtesy of Elsie Marley
Courtesy of Elsie Marley

Clothesline Craft

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.

What you'll need: 24 socks, number stickers, ribbon or rope, clothespins

Make it: 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.

Marty Baldwin
Marty Baldwin

Stacked Up

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

Michael Partenio
Michael Partenio

Santa Hats

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.

Blaine Moats
Blaine Moats

Pop-Up Calendar

Build up to Christmas with this stacked Advent calendar.

What you'll need: 25 small tins, number stickers, blue cardstock, scissors, glue, foam board, wrapping paper

Make it: Cover a piece of foam board in festive wrapping paper to serve as your background. Then, paint 25 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.

Watch this video to learn how to make an advent calendar that your family can use every Christmas.

Kids can punch through tissue paper-covered cups to find tiny treasures every day in December.

Adam Albright
Adam Albright

Advent Organizer

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

Jason Donnelly
Jason Donnelly

Present Pouches

Line up your holiday treats and hang them on you wall.

What you'll need: natural canvas, fabric paint (red and green), paintbrush, ribbon, needle and thread or fabric glue, thumbtacks

Make it: Cut out 36 ovals from your fabric, about 3" 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.

Kim Cornelison
Kim Cornelison

Advent Envelopes

Seal your kids' presents and let them open one envelope every day.

What you'll need: envelopes (in red, green, white, and pink), number stickers, hole punch, string, bulletin board, thumbtacks

Make it: 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.

Aimee Herring
Aimee Herring

Advent Ornaments

Each day, your child can pull out a tiny sweet treat or a mini ornament to stick on the tree.

What You'll Need: 17-x-17-inch piece of green felt, scissors, 22-x-35-inch piece of light blue felt, glue gun, four 2-x-15-inch strips of red felt, white adhesive felt numbers, 26-x-3/8-inch wood dowel, assorted colored felt, hook Velcro, ribbon

Make It: Enlarge the tree template (see below) by 300 percent. Fold the green felt in half, then place the template flush against the folded edge. Trace and cut through both layers of fabric; unfold. Hot-glue the tree to light blue felt. Center the strips of red felt below the tree and hot-glue only the bottom edge of each strip to the base. Create 6 pockets by gluing the left edge of strip to base felt, then adding a vertical line of hot glue every 2 1/2 inches until you reach the right edge. Label the 24 pockets with felt numbers. Fold base felt back 1 1/2 inches at top of calendar; secure edge with hot glue, and pass dowel through channel. Then, make 24 holiday icons from assorted colored felt and adhere a small piece of hook Velcro to the back of each ornament; tuck one into each pocket. Tie ribbon to each end of dowel to hang.

Alison Miksch
Alison Miksch

Christmas Cards Calendar

Make this tree by tacking 25 decorated envelopes to a corkboard -- a month full of surprises!

Magnetic Advent Calendar

Stick this reusable Advent calendar to your fridge.

What you'll need: 25 small 41 mm metal tins with clear tops, Advent calendar downloadable PDF, magnetic sheets, craft glue, scissors, Bone Folder, 1 4/8" craft punch

Make it: Download and print the Advent Calendar PDF, and then cut out the circles on the outside line. Make small slits along the outer rim, from the edge to the colored circle every 1/2-inch apart, and then using your bone folder, fit the circles inside the lids of your metal tins with the number facing the clear top. Use your craft punch to cut circular discs from magnetic sheeting and glue them to the bottom of your tins. Fill tins with small candies and treats, and then arrange them on your fridge.

Countdown Calendar

Recycle some toilet paper tubes into this snowy Christmas countdown.

What you'll need: 24 cardboard tubes, acrylic craft paint, security envelopes, snowflake hole punch, sewing machine, cork board, mini clothespins, ribbons or lace, stamp pad and numeral stamps

Make it: 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.

Courtesy of Crafty Nest
Courtesy of Crafty Nest

Origami Box Calendar

Wrap up your holiday treats with this fold, crease, and box origami craft.

What you'll need: craft sticks, spray paint, hot glue gun and glue, 25 sheets of letter size paper, Origami PDF template, scissors, red ribbon and red baker's twine, number stickers, double-sided foam tape

Make it: Make the tree trunk by gluing together 6 craft sticks end-to-end, overlapping about 1/2-inch. Glue the 5 horizontal arms to the trunk in graduating lengths and spray paint your tree green. Then, glue four sticks together in the center in a star shape and spray paint silver. For the boxes, download and print the Origami PDF template onto 25 sheets of letter size paper and cut along the solid lines of the template. Visit Crafty Nest for full origami instructions. Once your boxes are folded, add numbered stickers and tie a bow to each box to hang them from the tree. Attach the whole tree to your walls with double-sided foam tape.

Courtesy of The Paper Pony
Courtesy of The Paper Pony

Christmas Village

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.

Courtesy of A Subtle Revelry
Courtesy of A Subtle Revelry

Santa's Sacks

Whether they're on the naughty list or the nice list, your kids can open one present from Santa's bag every day.

What you'll need: paper bags, twine or string, number stamps and stamp pad

Make it: 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.

Courtesy of Julie Ree
Courtesy of Julie Ree

Starry Trees

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.

Courtesy of Amy Locurto from www.livinglocurto.com
Courtesy of Amy Locurto from www.livinglocurto.com

Printable Advent Calendar

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.

For more fun ways to make the holiday extra-magical for your family, click here.

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