Advent calendars are a great way to count down the days until Christmas. These are fun for adults, but they are really great for children. When most people think of advent calendars they think of chocolate or even small toys. After all, that’s what you’ll find most of the time when shopping stores. However, this holiday season I want to challenge you to think outside of the box. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 unique non-toy and non-candy advent calendar ideas. I hope these inspire you to try a new twist on this Christmas tradition.
Pay it Forward Advent Calendar
Unfortunately, the Christmas season has become very commercialized and now focuses on gifts. Many children spend the holiday season focusing on all of the things they want to receive on Christmas morning. Don’t get me wrong, gifts are great! However, it’s important to remember that Christmas is about so much more than presents.
This advent calendar challenges children to shift their focus from receiving to giving. In each day of the calendar you’ll put a slip of paper with a specific task written on it. Each of these tasks will be a different challenge for your child to pay it forward. Here are a few different ideas to get you started.
- Give a friend a compliment.
- Help mom set the table.
- Make cookies for the neighbors.
- Buy a present for a chid in need.
- Volunteer at the soup kitchen.
Musical Advent Calendar
I don’t know about your family, but my daughter is obsessed with music. A good song means way more to her than a piece of candy ever could. That’s why I decided to create an advent calendar for all of the music lovers out there. I think it’s so fun to have a calendar tailored specifically to their interests. It makes it so much more fun to open each day.
For this advent calendar, write all of your children’s favorite Christmas songs out on slips of paper. Then, put one slip of paper in each calendar day. When your child opens up their calendar each morning they will discover their song of the day. In our house, the song of the day means they can listen to it as many times as requested. Although, you are more than welcome to put limits on that if you’d like. Here are some song ideas to get you started.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- Frosty the Snowman
- Jingle Bells
- I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas
- You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Nativity Scene Advent Calendar
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is setting up the nativity scene. It’s a great way to teach children about the true meaning of Christmas. Using the props in the nativity scene helps children understand it a bit better. For this advent calendar all you need is that traditional nativity set you’ve been using all these years.
Instead of setting your nativity scene up all at once, you’ll need to do it a little bit each day. Every day when your child opens up their calendar they will find a new piece of the nativity scene. When you go place that prop in the scene you’ll explain to them what it is and their part of the story. Here’s a few examples.
- Wise Men – Traveled to the birth place of Jesus to worship him and bring him gifts.
- Donkey – Carried Mary to Bethlehem.
- Baby Jesus – The reason for Christmas Day.
Christmas Activities Advent Calendar
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is all of the fun family activities. I love all of the events, crafts, programs, food, and more. It’s just the best. That’s why I created an advent calendar centered around the best Christmas activities.
To start, make a list of all of the Christmas activities you want to do this Christmas. Write each activity on a separate slip of paper. Each day when your child opens up their calendar they will find their Christmas activity for the day. Be sure to carefully coordinate the activity with the day. For example, you’ll want to save big activities like decorating the tree for a weekend when you’ll have more time. This is not only a great non-candy advent calendar, but it’s also a good way to get organized this holiday season and make sure you check off all the activities on your list. Here are a few activities to get you started.
- Make salt dough ornaments.
- Decorate the Christmas tree.
- Set up the nativity scene.
- Go see Santa.
- Go caroling.
Story Time Advent Calendar
If you’ve been around here for a while, then you know that I have a real passion for books. I really enjoy reading to my daughter and sharing my love of books with her. It’s something that I try to incorporate into our everyday routine. If you have a book lover too, then this advent calendar is for you.
The first thing you will want to do is select 24 children’s books and wrap them up. You can purchase all new books, use books you already have, or choose a combination of both depending on your budget. Some people choose to do all holiday related books and others choose to incorporate all subjects. Personally, I will be choosing a variety of options. After you wrap all of the books, set them out in the house where all the kids can see them. Each morning let your kids choose one book to open up and read with you that day. The advent calendar will end on Christmas Eve with ‘Twas a Night Before Christmas”. Here are some other book suggestions to help fill the other days.
- The Pout Pout Fish
- The Gruffalo
- Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice
- Bear Stays Up For Christmas
- The Rainbow Fish