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Making a Fun & Meaningful Advent Calendar

I love making a custom advent calendar for my kids so I can put in a mix of activities that are both fun and meaningful…

Oh Joy! Advent Calendar

Since December of 2020, when I got the Gathre advent calendar wall hanging, my family has done a home-made countdown to Christmas. I like for my kids and all of my family (myself included) to be reminded of the fun of the holiday, but also of the great time and opportunity to help others, to focus on more than just “gifts”, and to spend quality time together.

I typically break down my 24 days into three large groups: fun and small giftables; community service or ways to connect with others; and quality time with family. Each category gets around 8 days, although that can vary depending on how many items I can think of or are available depending on our family’s schedule. Here are some thought-starters for you!

Fun and Small Giftables
In some ways this is the easiest category! Because I am using this particular wall hanging, I narrow down options to things that can fit in a pocket. For about half the days, I have fun treats for the girls – hot chocolate bombs, candy canes, popcorn bags to pop later, etc. For the other half, it’s small little trinkets and fun items. I give myself bonus points if the gift is actually useful (hair ties, pencils, etc.) and try to avoid plastic throw away toys.

Community Service and Connection
This is the time of year when there are so many opportunities to give back and help your community. Some schools do food drives, which is usually a day in our calendar. There are lots of other drives this time of year, too – bagged lunches, hygiene items, socks, etc. I recommend you reaching out to your school, a local shelter, or even churches, temples, synagogues or mosques. They usually are involved in the community and know of needs. Beyond giving items, you can serve meals, find red Salvation Army buckets for change donations, or even go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood or at a local nursing home to spread cheer. Writing letters to imprisoned people, the elderly or deployed military is also a fun activity to do together. Anything in this category that helps to remind all of you to spread kindness this holiday season – and beyond! For some of the options, I’ll have a few days where it might be connecting with someone they know…like choosing a friend or relative to send a letter to for no reason at all!

Quality Time with Family
This is my favorite! The days are numbered with how long our kids want to hang out with us and think we’re still cool. So any holiday-themed (or not!) activity you can all do together is the best. Turn on your favorite holiday album, go look at neighborhood lights, watch your favorite holiday movie, bake cookies together, or string popcorn and cranberries for festive garlands on your tree. You can also make them about giving kids one-on-one dinner or “coffee” with each kid and each parent. With so many activities already on the books for the rest of the year, it’s important to make this intentional time to be together.

What are your holiday traditions? Do you do an advent calendar or another fun way to count down? Share your favorites below!

P.S. See my calendar from this year in action right here.


  1. Last year we made advent calendar bags and sold them to neighbours and donated the money to charity


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