Our Simple Advent Calendar

This year we are beginning to use an Advent Calendar for creating fun, meaningful, creative, and gift giving activities through the Advent season. I have seen a ton of amazing Advent Calendars across the web, but knew I had to put together something very simple in order for this to be manageable. I purchased this set of muslin stamped bags to fill with our daily activities, and hung then on a simple branch from our backyard with a ribbon to hang it on our wall. Each day we will add a piece to our children’s Nativity Set as well as we await the arrival of Baby Jesus. I also have purchased a few new Christmas books to be opened throughout the month to add to our collection.

Here is our list of activities for this year:

Buy a new Christmas album and listen to it
Open and read a Christmas story book
Go to the mountain and find a Christmas tree
Make pumpkin bread and give to the neighbors
Sing Christmas carols around the tree
Make a fun Christmas ornament
Open and read a Christmas story book (Legend of the Christmas Stocking, Legend of the Christmas Tree, etc)
Wrap Christmas Gifts for our stockings
Make a popcorn/cranberry garland
Make Candy Cane Playdough – give some to neighbor friends
Make reindeer candy canes
Dance to Christmas music
Make a memory Christmas ornament – record memories from the year
Color a Christmas picture
Make coconut hot chocolate and stir with candy canes
Watch a Christmas movie and eat white chocolate peppermint popcorn
Build a Gingerbread house
Drive around and look for Christmas lights
Go visit Santa Claus
Make a Jesus Gift basket and deliver to a family in need
Have a camp out in front of the Christmas tree
Call grandma and grandpa and sing a Christmas song
Sing Christmas carols at senior citizens home
Watch The Nativity Story about the birth of Baby Jesus
Make a birthday cake for Jesus.

Merry Christmas!!!

Another idea we’d like to do throughout the month as we receive various Christmas cards from family and friends is to read/look at the cards together and pray for the families in turn.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

40 Responses to Our Simple Advent Calendar

  1. kelly cogswell December 14, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    we are so enjoying our daily Bible readings and activities. Its a great way to be intentional with our kids during such a busy season

  2. Dana December 10, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    I love your ideas! I will always remember the Advent tree we had when I was a kid. My grandma had made it- it was a felt Christmas tree with ornaments that tiny notes could be stuck in. My mom put the numbers in each one at the beginning of December, and overnight she would put in the note of what we were doing each day (I think she put in the activities one day at a time so that she could be flexible). Every year I looked forward to my favorite activities: putting together the Nativity puzzle we had, going to see the Nutcracker, and making fudge! When I have kids, I think it will be so fun to plan Advent tree activities for them.

  3. Erica December 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm #


    I just felt compelled to chime in on the Santa issue. Noel Piper included a snippet from her book, Treasuring God in our Traditions, in her recent blog post here:


    I have to agree with her, and I think she makes some excellent points. We do enjoy the book from Voice of the Martyrs on St. Nicholas, but the St. Nicholas of history is a far, far cry from the commercialized version these days.

    God’s blessings on your Advent season!

    • Lindsay December 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

      I wholeheartedly agree! Thanks for sharing the link. We also have chosen not to include Santa in our household reading or decorations during the season.

  4. Julia @ PaperCrank December 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Love your ideas, Lindsay! So much better than tiny chocolates in thin boxes! I’m making a list for this year as well – do you mind if I use some of your ideas and link to your post as well?

  5. jess December 1, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Hi Lindsay,

    I really appreciate your blog greatly. My husband and I want to raise our kids in a Christian mission-minded home but this is different than either of us were raised so I am relying heavily on blogs like yours for hands-on examples of how to do this in day-to-day life. Thank you!

    One thing we are trying to figure out right now is which Christmas traditions we would like to focus on. Our extended families do the whole typical Santa tradition. We are not sure what to do since we will be celebrating with our extended family but our hearts are more focussed on the giving aspect and Jesus as the reason for the season. I was just wondering if you could share what your family does in regards to Christmas eve/day traditions and how you handle the “Santa debate.” Thanks so much!

    • Morgan December 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

      I just wanted to reply with how we do things b/c we are in exact same boat as you. This is what we do and it may not be what you want to do but…we don’t tell them Santa isn’t real b/c of all the extended family that does the typical Santa tradition. I feel like it is harmless fun. But in our house, there is no Santa. No Santas sitting around, on the tree, in our books we read in Dec, in our discussions, etc. They get one or two gifts from santa on christmas morning but we don’t call him at north pole or write letters to him. If my mom or my hubby’s mom does that, it’s fine. If they talk to them about Santa, it’s not awkward b/c my kids (ages 6, 3, and 1) know who he is, but in our house, the focus is on Christ and Christ alone. Does that make sense? We have done things this way for past 2 years and it flows fine. It keeps us from having to explain to the kids who are really too young anyway to get it and to our family who wouldn’t understand either.

  6. Jessica Lynette November 30, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    Great ideas – and I’ll be checking out that cd!! :)

    One thing we started last year that we will be continuing each year is when we go look at lights we take along prizes with a note attached saying they were “voted house #1 for beautiful lights by xyz age x.”
    The boys LOVED doing it and it was a wonderful opportunity to get them to think about others and celebrate the efforts of others.

    This is what we make for our prizes; http://www.jessicalynette.com/holidays/snowman-chocolate-bars-christmas-traditions/

  7. Jolene (Homespun Heritage) November 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    ~Darling, indeed~ We do a Jesse Tree but I love your idea!

  8. Lacey Wilcox November 29, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Ok–this should be my last question…hopefully! Do you have any idea how long the cranberry/popcorn garland should last? I watched the video but didn’t notice where the man said how long it would stay fresh.

  9. Linda November 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    I have never seen anyone use the little bags to create an advent activity for their children. I love the simplicity and manageability of this idea! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Nicole November 28, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    Love this post and all things Christmas!!

  11. Chrissy November 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    What a wonderful and lovely idea. I love it. Great list of activities.

  12. Pamela November 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    We just started the tradition of advent in our home last year and it was a HUGE success. For each day they “open” we start with a scripture reading/verse that deals with this time of year and then they get an additional note which tells them of the special thing we will do that day. Many of the things Lindsay has mentioned is in ours. I like to focus on giving of ourselves, not in just “things” but ourselves, being a blessing. Doing things like sing carols at a local retirement/nursing home, call (or visit) a shut-in from church and sing to them over the phone. Our most very favorite is the drive-by’s!! This requires some time but our kids were so excited to do this….it is a HUGE rush!! We take 2 nights to do this b/c of the number of people we choose to be a blessing to. Make a manger scene with these wonderful nativity scene cookie cutters ( https://www.thelearningparent.com/products.asp?cat=4&product=12 ) and decorate them, arrange them on foiled covered cardboard. Attach a special note telling the recipient you love them/the reason for the season, your family is praying for them, etc. (anything you want really). Drive to their home at night (just after dark/after dinner), one adult and one child (alternating each time) runs/SNEAKS up to the door, rings the doorbell and runs away like crazy to where the car is (the car doors should be left open for ease and quickness) and you “speed” off so they can’t see who did it. BUT the cool thing is they see no one there and they ALWAYS look down! We have watched some open the door (our vehicle was hidden and so were we! SUPER FUN!!) and they are soo perplexed as to what “just happened”! Oh our children go nuts over this!! We emphasize to our children the fact that we wish to remain annonymous. It teaches them to be a true blessing to others while not receiving the credit for the deed. No bragging, no high-fives. It’s between our family and the Lord. We did 10 families last year and to this day, no one knows it was us. It’s a teaching tool for our kids in many ways and can be an evangelistic/ministerial/witnessing tool as well. All around good, clean fun!

    • Lindsay November 29, 2011 at 8:12 am #

      What wonderful ideas! I would love if you could email me the verses you use. I’ve been wanting to add something like that and would love to add them to this post.

      • jess December 1, 2011 at 11:59 am #

        Yes please share your advent calendar verses!

        • Pamela December 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

          I just use something I found online one year and felt it was a pretty good way to incorporate scripture. I tweek it alittle but it is really handy and takes the load off me to figure it all out. I just use the scripture part and do my own activities with it. Hope this helps!


  13. Jennifer November 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Lindsay- I love the idea- thank you so much for sharing. But my question is- what if you can’t get to the activity on the day the kids open it. For example- building a gingerbread house just won’t fit in between naps and guests coming over for dinner? Do you save it for the next day? -Are your kids OK with a change of plans? Or do you strategically make sure that you can complete it when you plan out the month? Sorry to be so specific- but I would hate to disappoint my three year old!

    • kelly cogswell December 14, 2011 at 5:22 am #

      I tried to intentionally structure mine so that BIG activities were on days my husband was home and not on school nights so bedtime would not be a big deal. But life happens so right now we have two activities to make up, so today is super easy supper and we will just do our activities from afterschool until bedtime and I will deal with the mess later! I thought they would be very upset about missing an activity but they have been totally ok with making it up, as long as we get to do it !

  14. Jessica Allen November 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    How do you explain Santa to your children? What traditions do you have that involve Santa?

    • Lindsay November 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

      We have talked about the history of Santa Claus mainly with its roots in St Nicholas. Voice of the Martyrs has a wonderful book on the story of his life for children. Aaron’s family grew up visiting Santa every year at the mall, so it has been fun to carry on that tradition. That’s really the only tradition we have including him. We have explained that he is not real and simply just a fun thing to do during Christmas time.

  15. Stephanie November 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Thanks for the idea. I was just thinking today that I didn’t want my kids to get candy or trinkets to count down the days until Christmas. Love the activity based calendar.

  16. Autumn November 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Very cool. I just decided to do this this year. We have many of the same things on our list. I just ordered those bags. I’m not a crafty person and I’ve been wracking my brain the past few days trying to figure out how to be creative with our list of 24 things.

  17. Julie Edmonds November 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Okay, can I do the gingerbread house with the kiddos? I already bought one to do with them! Love the ideas. – Grammer Julie

    • Lindsay November 28, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

      Sure thing Mom! We’ll just have to make sure it happens on the day in the calendar.;)

  18. Heather November 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    …but why Santa Claus?

    • Aaron November 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

      Mostly tradition. Plus it’s a fun way to start a conversation about St. Nicholas.

  19. christine November 28, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Hi, i am making some of these bags myself, but love the ideas you have given me on the notes inside each bag, i was going to include a tiny gift but incorporating notes is awesome.

  20. Alana of Intentional Womanhood November 28, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Thank you for including your list of activities. I keep seeing examples of really cute advent calendars but no one has thought to include a list. I am not really a creative person and need more direction than most when it comes to things like this. Thanks!

  21. Rachel O'Neill November 28, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    Love your ideas! And i love the simple and elegant look of it. Very clever! Can’t wait for my daughter to be big enough to do these sorts of things!

  22. Sarah M November 28, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Thank you for all these wonderful ideas. We have an advent calendar but it really needs to be updated as my children have grown older. Some of these ideas are perfect matches!
    Sarah M

  23. Lisa Grace November 28, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    I love this!!! So great … we are totally snagging some of these ideas in our home.
    Would you mind if I linked to your post in one of my blogs this week? I think you have so many great ideas here (if you don’t want me to, would you consider linking up yourself?). Thanks for sharing them. I think my favorite is going to be camping in front of the Christmas tree, although that candy cane playdough sounds might fun, too!

    • Lindsay November 28, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      Sure thing! You are more than welcome to link to it.

      • Lisa Grace November 28, 2011 at 10:41 am #

        Thanks :) We are totally doing this idea … I had the bags for verses for each day, but after sharing with with hubby, we’ve decided to do the activity instead … it’s so wonderful :)

  24. Lanai November 28, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    This must be a god thing. You’re the second person I’ve seen today post something about an advent calendar. I’m going to research this nifty idea and see he I can incorporate it into our family’s traditions each year! These ideas are great & inspiring! :) thanks for opening up your heart to share with us apart of your home!
    Such a blessing

    • Lisa Grace November 28, 2011 at 6:37 am #

      We *love* our Advent traditions … it was a new idea to me, too, last year that I discovered out in the blog world. But these ideas are some of the best I’ve run across!

  25. Lacey Wilcox November 28, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    I love this! Thanks so much for sharing! Will you start it today? Or did you start yesterday?

    • Lindsay November 28, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      We’ll start it on December 1st.

  26. Jennifer P November 28, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    What a great idea to intentional enjoy the Christmas season.

  27. Cary November 28, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    This is brilliant!!!! I was going to do a little treat, but the activity suggestions are so much better!!!! Thank you!