Advent, the period preceding Christmas, begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and covers four Sundays. We tend to start opening our Advent calendars from December 1st however, peeking behind one of 24 doors each day up until Christmas Eve as a countdown to help build excitement to the big day itself. Whether you’re patience is rewarded with seasonal pictures or chocolatey treats depends on which calendar you choose to buy – but print your own and its contents are entirely your choice...
Would you like to find out who lives on Christmas Street? Mr Printables Christmas advent calendar includes every house on the street from number 1 to 24. Cute decorations or play sets, children can visit these easy-to-make match box size houses and buildings everyday until Christmas. “Display them neatly in one long line along a wall or shelf, create your own little village, hang them on the tree, or scatter them around the house! There’s a black and white only version too so you can color and decorate each one as you like. Make them as colorful as you want! Hide little treats or activity ideas of the day inside. Or place inside little people or animals who live in the houses. Every house has a story.”
Need something that will be a bit quicker to make? Mr Printables has another suggestion with its Easy Home-Made Christmas Advent Calendar where “you just need to roll each treat inside the paper strip and let children unroll it to discover the treat. They end up as nice Christmas bunting when you’re through them.”
For a forest rather than a street of boxes download Tell Love & Chocolate’s DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendar. And Sara definitely has to be ready with hers by December 1st – “We all know kids looooooove their treats,” she writes, “Starting Oct 1st till January I feel like my son has this weird candy sixth sense and can feel its presence.”
Kate at Minieco was also in a triangular mood when she designed her Advent Calendar too – “These models are pretty versatile; you can hang them in your tree, make a garland from them or you can stand them on your windowsill”.
If boxes are the way to go for you but you’d rather have one big tree than 24 little ones then head over to Powerful Mothering and check out Nicolette’s DIY Boxes Advent Calendar with Free Printable post that could even see your Advent calendar double as your Christmas tree. Not only are the boxes big enough for chocolate and/or a mini toy, “The best part of this free printable is that it it has 2 sides and once the day has come and gone you can just simple rotate the box to display the side without the numbers! This also gives a good countdown overview for the younger kids by having the numbers “disappear”. The empty boxes do stack well but I recommend that you use a pebble in the empty boxes to keep them weighted after opening just in case of some major bumping from the kids. (this happens to me all the time!)”
There are more boxes available from designer SJ Dowsett on Papercraft Inspirations. The download kit of templates and images for you to print out will help you to create the cute mini Advent gift boxes to fill with sweets or tiny gifts – “Click to download the whole kit, then you’re ready to start crafting with your favourite patterned papers and embellishments.”
Or for a more monochrome, goemoetric look, download the DIY Christmas Calendar boxes at Hey Look.
A more traditional wall hanging design, Amy at Living Locurto’s Free Printable Christmas Advent Calendar is still customisable “so you can keep what I have typed, or re-type your own treats” and also comes which three different banners to choose from – Santa, a nativity scene or Star Wars.
Mibo’s Madeleine has particular cause to “have a slight aversion to the chocolate filled, cartoon based versions that cram the shops” “ever since a hungry mouse, in an apparent act of frenzied cannibalism, devoured the contents of days 3, 11 and 18 of my Dangermouse one (this was back in the 80s), leaving behind, ahem, plenty of evidence)”. Her Free DIY pdf Advent Calendar “which bravely aims to provide a wholesome alternative” features a bold penguin front and a choice of inside images – either a finished or a colour-in-your-own version.
Simply not enough choice to suit all your family’s tastes? Then don’t miss Mein Lila Park’s round-up of 30 + Free printable Christmas Advent Calendars for even more suggestions.
Searching for ideas to put behind your doors, securely rolled up or stashed in your boxes other than chocolate or toys? Adriel Booker offers a printable version of her Ultimate list of family Advent activities & Christmas countdown fun on her blog. She splits down the more than 150 activity ideas into categories including fun at home, outings, serving others, faith-based and movies and even include winter-specific and summer-specific suggestions depending on which hemishpere you’re choosing to celebrate in this year.
Caroline wiriting on Mum’s Grapevine also gives a lovely list of 20 ways to fill your advent calendar (without chocolate!) which includes a fabulous treasure map idea (although you’ll have to create it yourself).
Yellow Bliss Road’s Kristin combines both calendar and inserts in her Free Printable Advent Calendar Treat Bag Kit that includes not only the template for the bags, available in red or green, but also some printable activity cards – “The cards are blank so you can fill in your own activities that apply to your family. Some suggestions would be: Bake Christmas cookies, buy a toy for a child in need and donate to a charity, sing Christmas carols, watch a Christmas movie, have a snowball fight, etc.”
Just a Girl and her Blog’s Abby uses pre-made white paper sacks for her Advent bags in her post Our DIY Advent Calendar but provides her readers with printable numbers to decorate the outside with and daily verse cards to fill the insides with.
One of the family traditions that Sarah at Hip Homeschool Moms enjoys every year is one carried over from her own childhood – “counting down to Christmas with a needlepoint Advent calendar that my mother made. My family now uses the very same calendar that I used when I was growing up”. However as her family grew, having one Advent calendar just wasn’t enough: “As the number of kids in our family grew, so did the number of Advent calendars we had going each December – chocolate ones, Lego ones, nativity ones, ornament ones, just to name a few. Last year I decided that it was getting to be a little too much – keeping track of all the Advent calendars and remembering whose turn it was to do which calendar – so I decided to make an Advent calendar that was all about spending time together as a family, allowing us to make the tradition more meaningful and even more memorable.” Her Printable Advent Activities Calendar combines container and insert in one by just using cards that you flip over the reveal the different family activites including make a gingerbread house, read your favourite Christmas storybook, make a bird feeder and have a picnic dinner by the light of the Christmas tree as well as cards that are blank on the back so you can write in your own activities.
Opened the door, unlifted your box lid or rifled through your goody bag and now need something to fill the rest of each Advent day? Take a look at Activity Village’s Advent Printables which include a banner, countdown display and poster, good deed chart, lunch box notes, paper chain, reward chart, worksheets and wreath printables as well as a Santa Advent Calendar which you glue a cotton wool ball on to the correct number on the beard each day to build up his fluffy facial hair ahead of his epic annual international journey.
And, for a real international outlook, download some of the resources from Lessons from Africa: Send a Cow and its African Advent Tree (Jesse Tree) – “A great resource for Christmas/Advent, these sheets help make a fantastic acacia tree that will create a colourful wall display. During Advent, your children will learn about Christmas in African countries and do something kind at school or home as hangings are added to the tree.”
Do you love finding printables on internet? Do you have particular favourites? Or have you featured some on your own blog? Email karen.malpass @ inkfactory.com with your links and we may be able to feature them in a future post.