20+ Advent ideas: simple ways to count the days


20 Advent Ideas

Note:  there are affiliate links in this post. This list has been updated for 2013.

Today I”m talking about Advent and some simple ways to count the days before Christmas.

It doesn’t take too many days of using an Advent calendar for even young kids to start to understand the idea of a count-down.  The simple, repeated act – be it opening a drawer on an heirloom calendar to reveal a surprise or tearing the next link on a paper chain every day – is a fun way for kids to mark the passage of time.

Are you looking for some ideas for observing Advent this year?  I”ve rounded up more than 20 of my favorite ideas for you to choose from. 

One reminder:  keep it simple!  Pick the single idea that speaks to you this year.  This is a time to let go of the excess and keep things sincere and focused, not overwhelming.  So this is me formally giving you permission not to do it all.

20 Ideas for Advent (for kids and for parents)

  1. The Martin & Sylvia Audio Advent Calendar ::: Sparkle Stories (new for 2013)
  2. Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar printable ::: Christmas Your Way
  3. Christmas Street: Printable Christmas Advent Calendar ::: Mr. Printables
  4. Charlie & Noel: An Advent Calendar Story by Franziska Macur ::: kindle ebook
  5. Free Printable Personalized Christmas Advent Calendar ::: Living Locurto
  6. The Greatest Gift:  Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp ::: I”ll be reading this in 2013 and am really looking forward to it after hearing Ann speak at Allume this past fall. 
  7. Christmas Countdown for Slackers ::: Filth Wizardry
  8. Seeking the Light and the Warmth with Advent (and instructions for a neat Advent calendar) ::: Our Big Earth
  9. Adverbs of Advent: Daily Devotions for Children and Their Families ::: Kindle edition by David Mead online casino I”m using this with Jillian, my sixth grader, in 2013.
  10. Wall Pocket Advent Calendar Tutorial ::: The Crafty Crow
  11. Printable Christmas Activity Chain ::: Life As Mom
  12. Santa”s Beard Christmas Count Down printable ::: Inviting Printables
  13. Books (and more books!) for Advent and Christmas ::: In the Heart of My Home
  14. Envelope Advent Calendar ::: Martha Stewart
  15. The Truth is in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands ::: use coupon code SIMPLEKIDS20 for 20% off ebook.
  16. An Easy No Frills Advent Calendar ::: Simple Mom
  17. A Child in Winter: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany with Caryll Houselander
    ::: devotional book I”ve used over the years
  18. Ali Edwards” December Daily Project
  19. Advent: Lighting a Path to Christmas ebook ::: Seasons of Joy
  20. 24 Christmas Books and Activities to Go With Them ::: The Crafty Crow
  21. Advent Spiral ::: In these Hills
  22. An Artful Advent Calendar ::: The Artful Parent
  23. 25 Christmas Books for Kids ::: Here Come the Girls
  24. An Advent Reading Plan with The Jesus Storybook Bible ::: Adriel Booker This is what we”ll be following with the youngest kids in 2013.

And if you”re looking for some more ideas for sharing this season with your children, but the idea of a daily activity is a bit daunting, I have a few suggestions for that as well …

Celebrations of Light Collage 2

Simple yet sweet seasonal ideas that don”t have to be done daily:

If the thought of coming up with 24 different ideas or activities is overwhelming just pick one thing, like reading a book together or eating dinner by candlelight, and do that one thing for 24 days.

Again, friends, I strongly encourage you to keep it simple.  Being mindful of your time with your child, being grateful for the season isn”t something that needs bells and whistles.  It just calls for mindfulness and your presence.  Let the rest just be the icing on the Christmas cake.

Every year how our family observes Advent seems to vary depending upon what season of life we”re in.  Have a new baby in the house and zero free time on my hands?  Those years usually find our family with a purchased Advent calendar or maybe even no daily Advent calendar at all.  Have a little extra time and energy on my hands this seasons?  Then we have a pretty crafty Advent. (Hello, Pinterest!)

Last year (2012) I created a simple paper bag Advent calendar for the children.  I used brown paper lunch sacks and doodled the days with a green felt tipped marker.  Inside of each bag was either a small treat (x4) or a piece of paper with a little note suggesting an activity.

My list had things on it like:

  • make paper snowflakes
  • drink cocoa from our Christmas mugs
  • read The Tomten and the Fox
  • bake cookies
  • participate in our local charity toy drive
  • call Grandma and Grandpa and sing Jingle Bells
  • go for a drive to look at holiday lights
  • take a picture in our Santa hats (the sillier, the better!)
  • make real eggnog
  • feed the birds
  • color a picture using only red and green crayons
  • watch A Charlie Brown Christmas

Does your family have any Advent traditions? If you observe Advent, what will these days look like for you and your kids?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace


  1. I can’t decide if I want to do an Advent calendar or not this year but I think I’m going to give in! :)

    Stephanie Precourt´s latest post: Oh this day

  2. Robin from Frugal Family Times says:

    I just wrote about the same sort of thing, Kara! This year we’re doing a family activity each day of Advent. I’m so excited! I’m going to poke through all those great resources you’ve listed and see what more ideas I find. Thanks!
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s latest post: Countdown to Christmas with Family Advent Activities

  3. Just in time!
    Going to read through all of the ideas. Glad that you wrote to keep it simple.

    My son turned 2 yesterday so this year so I can start with all those fun traditions and he will truly enjoy and appreciate them.
    On the other hand our baby daughter means my “craft time” equals zero.

    I will make something anyway! :)
    (plan B: we got a purchased one from my mother- in- law…)
    Adrienn´s latest post: Renovating

  4. We did advent growing up with the candles being lit and everything. We mostly got a calendar with chocolate from our relatives in germany. That is what I got for my son this year. Last year I bought little stockings and filled them each day. I bourght christmas tags to write an activity on and hang in the shape of the tree but haven’t gotten to the writing this year :)

  5. We’ve decided to do the “25 books of Christmas” thing this year (thank you, Pinterest!), with the nativity story on the morning of the 25th. Oh, my, that was a lot of money to put down at once! But I’m looking forward to the togetherness of read-alouds and building a warm, fuzzy family tradition this year.

    I went ahead and purchased the Eric Carle advent calendar you recommended, and I’ll be looking at the others as well. Thanks (as always!) for the resources!
    Jeni´s latest post: How to Feature Your Most Pinterest-Worthy Posts in Your Sidebar

  6. Elizabeth Kane says:

    Oh, I really like your paper bag calendar idea! It’s interactive with the whole family. And it mimics that excitement of surprise behind the door. A perfect way to inject small moments of Christmas joy into the day, without the pressure of making plans for one big event where all fun “must” take place on the weekend.

  7. I also just wrote about this on my little blog. I’m excited for Advent! (The post is the one before my most recent.)
    Nicole @ Wonderful Joy Ahead´s latest post: how they’ll remember Daddy

  8. Oh I love this list… lots and lots to read and do… well done on this fabulous resource!!!! I am reading and reading through the links!!!
    se7en´s latest post: Se7en’s Complete Christmas Collection and Gift Guide…

  9. A couple of years ago I bought a Fisher Price Little People wall hanging Advent calendar and it has worked so well for my kids. So far we have only stuck the little characters into the Nativity scene (velcro) and said a quick word about the story – it hardly took any time, it was enough for my squirrely kids, and it helped get us into the Christmas story. This year I’m doing a little bit more by adding Bible verse readings for each day – I wrote a verse on a slip of paper and stuck it in the pocket, so we’ll stick the character in the scene and read a verse from Matthew or Luke. This works for my little ones right now, and I look forward to doing more for Advent in the future when they are older (such as a Jesse Tree).


  1. [...] Simple Kids posted a great round-up of advent ideas earlier this week: 20 Advent Ideas: simple ways to count the days [...]

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  5. [...] If you are looking for a few ideas for activities and projects to do with your children when they are out of school for the Christmas holidays, Kara Fleck over at Simple Mom has an incredible list of links for Advent activities. [...]

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