12 adorable DIY Advent calendars for your family

Easy homemade touches to remind your children of the beauty of Advent.

Sean Locke | Stocksy United

Advent is a special time of hope and anticipation. But sometimes commercials and to-do lists threaten to bury that meaning. Keeping an Advent calendar can help you and your family focus on the wonder and generosity of the season instead of getting caught up in the stress of keeping up with the Joneses. Together you can tick off the joyful days until an even more joyful occasion arrives—Christmas!

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Some of the more elaborate Advent calendars you’ll find in department stores and gift shops are gorgeous but expensive. And the ones you come across at the drugstore? They may be more economical, but many of them aren’t beautiful enough to keep in tone with the season. Others are simply too flimsy to last the ravages of your children’s excited hands. (Can you blame them? There’s chocolate in there!) So instead of buying an Advent calendar, consider making one. You’ll have a chance to personalize it as you wish, save some money to cover other holiday expenses or donate to charity, and maybe even create something sturdy enough to be reused next year.

Here are 12 Advent calendars that you can make for your little ones—maybe even with their help—as you embrace the spirit of the season with your family.

1. Adorably adorned boxes

These teeny brown paper boxes are delightful inside and out. Helena Schaeder Söderberg of the blog CraftandCreativity decorated them with extra craft supplies like buttons, felt and markers, all in a red and white color scheme. Inside, the boxes can fit small treasures, like a chocolate or a quarter.

2. Reimagined toilet paper rolls

Steal this low-cost idea from Swiss craft blog Mama Skram. All you need is 24 empty toilet rolls (not hard to collect in a large household), some festive string, and stickers (or good handwriting).

3. Bitty bags of good will

Instead of chocolates to count down the days, consider giving your kids the gift of good will with this simple DIY advent calendar from Between You and Me blogger and etsy craft wizard Tara Lowry. “I sat down with the kids and made a list of 25 acts of random kindness that we could use to serve others with this month,” she says. “It was so much fun coming up with really easy, doable ways to daily serve.” Then she put their great ideas in little paper bags and strung them up on a chalk board.

4. Paper Christmas lights

Making these Christmas light bulbs might sound familiar if you’ve ever made its paper craft summer cousin: the similar string of “chili peppers.” Each festive bulb contains a new advent treat. Just follow the simple instructions from craft blog The House That Lars Built. Want to take it one step further? You can write favorite bible passages, prayers, or saint factoids inside the bags, along with each treat. Almost like a Christmas fortune cookie!

5. A cozy recycled house

Who knew empty toilet paper rolls could come in so handy around Christmas? This craft, from Decoholic covers the ends of each tube and stacks them like a little house for fun. The best part about this advent calendar is that it needs no embellishment: just a sweet humble home, counting down the days until December 25th.

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6. Rudolph rewards

Line up these red noses as a whimsical advent calendar for your kids. This craft from Craft and Creativity is so easy (and fun!) that they might even want to help you design the bags!

7. A fine felt tree

You can’t go wrong with an advent calendar shaped like a Christmas tree; it’s a classic. But we’ll be honest—this project won’t be a cinch to complete, unless you’ve got a knack for quilting (and even then, it will take time.) Andy of the quilting blog, ABrightCorner.com, says it took her about a month to complete. Of course, those with nimble fingers and enough hands-off time, say, this weekend, could possibly finish it much sooner. And if this calendar can’t happen this year, maybe you can add it to your list of summer projects and have it ready for next year.

8. Precious envelopes

Believe it or not, this Advent calendar is full of tea! What a brilliant idea from CraftAndCreativity.com: Each envelope contains a different type of tea for your child to enjoy. A hot cup of contemplation is the kind of Christmas treat that can easily be experienced as a family. Have your child open the calendar every day at breakfast or teatime (depending on the types of tea or your family’s schedule) and have a tin of biscuits ready for dunking as you chat.

9. A squeal-worthy matchbox

Itty-bitty things aren’t just for Santa’s elves. They’re for curious kids, too. Whether your kids are fans of The Indian in the Cupboard or The Borrowers, they’ll will love picturing themselves shrinking and entering the world of super-small things like this matchbox Advent calendar from Martha Stewart.

10. One branch & many brown bags

Bring a little nature into your home this December with a branch culled from one of your backyard adventures or forest hikes as the base for your Advent calendar. (Or maybe even a faux deer antler painted festive colors.) Label one brown paper bag for each day of the liturgical season in your cutest handwriting and string the bags onto the branch. Then hang it up and ta-da! Kudos to Babble for this forest fairy-inspired idea.

11. A muffin tin filled with surprises

Baking is often at the center of families’ Christmas fun. And why not? Eating yummy treats with your loved ones is always a ‘do.’ This muffin tin Advent calendar by Heartland Paper is perfect for a family who loves to gather in the kitchen. If you wrap them up just right, you might be able to put a couple baked goods inside the calendar.

12. A mini pine forest

When you think of Santa’s Workshop, don’t you picture it nestled in a frosty forest? Delight your child with a pine forest all her own. This Advent calendar by Erin of Earnest Home Co. is a nice reminder that the beauty of Christmas really is for all living things, including plants!

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