I am a huge fan of having reusable advent calendars. There are some really nicely crafted hand painted wooden ones out there, but most of them are out of my budget. I've made several different kinds of DIY advent calendars over the years, and I adjust each one to suit my family's changing needs. With 3 children who are now almost 10, 10, and 13, what we fill the advent calendar with has changed. I've included a list of fun and creative ideas for filling your advent calendar at the bottom. Be sure to check it out!
Since we now have two dogs, we try to have hanging advent calendars, so our dogs can't get to the treats (often chocolate) inside. This advent calendar craft was super-easy to make, and I was able to enlist my daughter to help with the artwork. She happily obliged, of course. This turned out to be a very fun holiday craft to make together. I love how this advent calendar turned out to have sort of a rustic, Americana style to it. Check out the short list of supplies needed below, all of which I found in Oriental Trading Company's Christmas crafts, stocking stuffers, and Christmas decorations sections.
DIY Hanging Advent Calendar Craft . . .
(2) Dozen Mini Stitched Christmas Stockings
(4) 6pc Burlap & Jute Gift Tags
Fabric Markers (Red, green, black)
(2) Poinsettia Garlands (optional)
Large Colored Candy Canes (optional)
Step 1. With a black fabric marker, write one number (from 1 to 24) on each burlap tag.
TIP #1: It might be a good idea to order one additional set of 6 burlap tags in case you make any errors.
Step 2. Using your fabric markers, decorate each tag with a festive and colorful design. We stuck with red, green, and black (and occasionally yellow). Invite your children (school-age and older) to help you!
TIP #2: Although fabric markers usually require to be set by heat, we skipped this step since our advent calendar would not likely be getting wet, nor will it be handled extensively.
Here is a sample of what my daughter and I came up with. We are quite proud of ourselves for coming up with 24 different designs.
Step 3. Tie each burlap tag onto one stocking, creating a neat bow with the twine ties.
TIP #3: If you are using stockings in different colors or designs like I did, then it will be worth it to take a couple of minutes to plan ahead by stacking the stockings in the order in which you would like them to appear. This is a great way to avoid having two of the same color or design next to each other.
Step 4. It's time to hang your advent calendar up! We chose to hang each stock on a separate nail, which are hidden under the poinsettia garland, but you could tie each stocking (evenly spaced apart) to one long length of sturdy twine. Then you could hang the twine up like you would a garland. I personally think it's more fun to be able to take one stocking down at a time to hand to the children to discover the contents.
Step 5. Fill your advent calendar! As far as candy goes, I like to vary what I put in there from day to day. Some days will have something chocolaty, and other days will have a surprise, like these flavored candy canes. But, what about the non-candy treats? Check out some of the fun and creative ideas I've listed below for filling your advent calendar . . .
5 fun ideas for filling your advent calendar . . .
- Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces - Choose a jigsaw puzzle that fits your child's skill level. Then assemble the puzzle, so that you can disassemble it in an orderly fashion. Place a handful of puzzle pieces in each day's advent calendar so that your child will have completed the puzzle by Christmas Eve.
- Lego Mini Figures - Instead of putting whole Mini Figures in each day of the advent calendar, only put one or two parts (hat/hair, head, body, legs, or accessory). Then, as each day goes by, your child will be able to mix and match the pieces to build some cool figures.
- Fun Coupons - Print or hand write a fun perk on a coupon for each day, such as a trip to the mall or the ice cream shop, having mom do your nails, getting to choose the restaurant next to the family eats out, etc . . .
- Collectibles - For a young collector of anything, it would be fun and exciting to receive a new item to add to his or her collection each day. Some examples might be die cast cars, marbles, buttons, seashells, or stamps.
- Beads - Include a handful of beads in the advent calendar each day. By the 24th day, your child will have enough beads to make a necklace or a couple of bracelets. If needed, be sure to include nylon thread to string the beads on, on the last day of the advent calendar.
What fun ideas do you have for filling an advent calendar?
Share them with us in a comment here.