'Tis The Season

These advent calendar activities are perfect for celebrating Christmas.
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110 Advent Calendar Activities, From Books To Read To Cookies To Bake

Celebrate a little bit of Christmas every day as you count down.

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The holidays sneak up on you fast, and one of my favorite ways to slow down all of the noise surrounding Christmas and actually focus on the memories I want to make with my girls is an advent calendar. Not only is it a tangible way for them to see how close we are to Christmas Eve, but it gives me a chance to use an advent calendar as a holiday bucket list with advent calendar activities. Whether your kids have a chocolate advent calendar or you have some gorgeous wooden Christmas tree advent calendar, having a tiny seasonal-themed advent calendar activity waiting inside the little box or found along the candy is such a sweet way to make sure you and your family make all of the holiday memories.

What is an advent calendar?

Advent calendars date back to 19th Century Germany, and are a way for people to count down to Dec. 25. By the early 20th Century, calendars were being produced and marketed towards children. Now, advent calendars are hugely popular, and can include everything from toys and building sets to chocolate and tiny jams. But many parents love to put a little advent calendar activity inside their advent calendar, especially if it’s one that has pockets or openings, like little doors or windows to open.

Advent Calendar Activities for Adults, Toddlers, & More

Trust me — advent calendar activities don’t have to be super elaborate. You can do a mixture of activities, or you could focus on one type for the entire 24 days. The fun is just that when your kids open their advent calendar window or hang their advent calendar ornament, they find a little activity to do that day to spread some extra joy. Maybe every advent calendar activity for your family is watching a different Christmas movie before bed, or reading a Christmas book. Maybe you guys are big on cookies, and you save big advent calendar activities for the weekends where you can make all of your favorite Christmas desserts, and during the week, your kids find recipes inside their calendar. Or maybe, like me, you have a list of things you want to do with your kids during this season — write a letter to Santa, paint ornaments, wrap Christmas gifts together — that you can spread them out as advent calendar activities all through December.

Pro-tip from me: Don’t get too precious about the dates on these things. Life happens. Sometimes you have big plans to watch The Grinch after soccer practice and it just doesn’t work out. Feel free to swap it in with something super small and easy (I’ve got ideas for you there, too!) and pop The Grinch activity into another date. Also think about the days as you plan out your activities. If you know the kids are going to be wiped on a random December Thursday, maybe don’t make that the night to make a centerpiece for your Christmas table and use it as one of your “let’s read a Christmas book” advent calendar activities instead.

Crafty & Creative Advent Calendar Activities

You could go as simple and broad as “make a Christmas craft” here if you want and then use it several times throughout December, or you can get specific with some of these ideas.

Cooking & Baking Advent Calendar Activities

You can absolutely just make an advent calendar activity for “bake cookies” or “make Christmas candy,” but if you want to get specific and spread the ideas out, try some of these. Bonus: you can make one Christmas baking activity span several days if one advent calendar activity is to choose a recipe, followed by another day of actually making the cookies, and then another for decorating. (Delivering cookies to neighbors could be the fourth advent calendar activity in that lineup.) You could do the same for gingerbread houses or any other elaborate Christmas baking project.

  • make cookies for Santa (a great one to save for Christmas Eve)
  • research and find a new cookie recipe to become part of your family’s Christmas traditions
  • make snickerdoodle cookies
  • make chocolate chip cookies
  • do a trial run on one of your Christmas dinner sides (super fun for kids who are really into cooking)
  • make gingerbread cookies
  • make buckeyes
  • go on a shopping trip to pick out everyone’s favorite Christmas snacks
  • make a Christmas tree cake
  • make Chex mix
  • go get a snowman cookie at Starbucks
  • make crockpot Christmas candy
  • make something with crushed candy canes
  • make Oreo truffles
  • make cinnamon rolls to give to neighbors
  • plan the Christmas Day breakfast
  • make homemade whipped cream
  • make hot chocolate
  • make fudge
  • make Christmas crack
  • do a Sweetology holiday baking kit
  • make and decorate sugar cookies
  • make eggnog
  • make a gingerbread house
  • set up a hot chocolate bar with different toppings
  • decorate a Christmas tin and fill with cookies for neighbors
  • bake cookies for teachers
  • write out and decorate a Christmas Day menu

Christmas Book Advent Calendar Activities

Of course the advent calendar activity can be to “read a Christmas book,” but you know I’m going to get specific to jazz things up a bit and make it easier for you to plan.

  • read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and have everyone practice a Grinch voice for his dialogue
  • read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (another great advent calendar activity for Christmas Eve)
  • read a Jan Brett winter-themed story
  • read Christmas in the Big Woods and make gingerbread man pancakes like Ma
  • read a chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (this can span several nights)
  • read a chapter of A Christmas Carol (another that can span several nights)
  • read The Snowy Day and do the same things out in the snow as Peter did
  • read The Gift of the Magi

Family Fun Advent Calendar Activities

If you have a Christmas bucket list in mind of things you definitely want to do this holiday season as a family, write them down as advent calendar activities. Everything from decorating the Christmas tree to driving around to find Christmas lights and singing Christmas music together counts. Here are some broad and specific family advent calendar activity ideas to get you started.

  • go on a drive to see Christmas lights
  • go pick out a Christmas tree
  • decorate the Christmas tree
  • decorate your bedrooms with Christmas decor
  • hang garland somewhere in the house
  • walk through your neighborhood and rate the Christmas lights
  • go help a family member decorate their Christmas tree
  • go caroling in your own house and have family members swap out being carolers and the ones opening the door for carolers
  • make a Christmas playlist together as a family
  • play the Christmas playlist over breakfast
  • find a Christmas movie playing in a theater and go out for a movie night
  • go see Santa
  • go walk around Home Depot and look at all the Christmas decorations and trees
  • write letters to your Elf on the Shelf
  • go to Target and take pictures of gifts you want to receive or give
  • watch the I Love Lucy Christmas special
  • watch the Modern Family Christmas episodes
  • watch one of the claymation Christmas specials on TV as it actually airs
  • watch the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas! TV special
  • watch the 2000 Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie
  • watch the 2018 The Grinch movie
  • And then rank all of the Grinch movies and vote on your family’s favorite to watch again
  • watch Pluto’s Christmas Tree before bed
  • circle the gifts you want in the Amazon toy catalog
  • write letters to Santa
  • deliver your Santa letters
  • do a Christmas puzzle
  • buy a set of bells and learn how to play “Jingle Bells”
  • hang a new set of twinkle lights somewhere
  • family dance party to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”
  • everyone wear their matching family Christmas pajamas
  • gather around the piano and play and sing Christmas songs together
  • go Christmas shopping for siblings
  • put Christmas sheets on everyone’s bed
  • have a night of Christmas karaoke
  • play The Grinch version of Clue
  • put on a Christmas performance with the figurines in a Christmas village
  • sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the way to school with antlers on
  • have your own candlelight Christmas Eve service
  • write a letter to your elves
  • watch The Snowy Day
  • decorate your car with a Rudolph kit
  • watch a Christmas movie with popcorn and hot chocolate (this can be several advent calendar activities if you want to write out the specific Christmas movie for each night)
  • watch the Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special
  • do a Christmas-themed Where’s Waldo? book before bed
  • create a family Christmas cookbook with all of your family’s favorite meals and desserts to make this time of year — even if they’re store-bought (This is a great time to call the grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. in the family for their input)
  • take a picture in front of the Christmas tree and write about what’s happening this year
  • go shopping for gifts and toys to donate
  • go shopping for ornaments that represent 2022 to each family member
  • donate Christmas cookies, candy, turkeys, and other seasonal food items to your local food pantry
  • eat a weeknight dinner off of Christmas plates
  • watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and discuss what Christmas means to you
  • sit by the Christmas tree and talk about each of the ornaments and where they came from
  • look through old Christmas photos
  • look through this massive online collection of Christmas wishbooks from the ‘50s through the ‘90s
  • host a neighborhood Christmas get-together
  • wear Christmas-themed accessories all day long (kids will love watching you grocery shop with antlers on, trust me)
  • use the photo timer to take pictures of your family in front of the Christmas tree

No matter how specific or broad you get with your advent calendar activities, the most important part is having fun together and building some sweet holiday memories. Think of these advent calendar ideas as a way to squeeze in all of the must-do Christmas activities for your family. If the most important things to you are baking cookies, donating to a toy drive, and watching The Grinch, then make those a priority. The rest can just be fun, easy Christmas fillers.

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