So here I am, the Christmas countdown has begun and I still don’t have my daughter’s Advent calendar sorted. How hard is it to figure out Advent calendar ideas for kids? Turns out, pretty hard if you’re me. So I put my elf cap on and texted my teacher friends who have ALL the great ideas. Here are their best suggestions.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Kids
Of course it’s easy enough to buy Advent calendars. But this year is special. We all could use a fun Christmas – and one that starts as early as possible. Because I have a flexible work schedule, I have the time to think about and shop for these Advent calendar ideas for kids. But most years, it’s one chocolate calendar for our family. This year I’m upping my game.
With no further ado, here’s some easily procurable gift ideas that work just as well for stockings, too.
Food and drink
You know you’re probably going to put a few chocolates in you calendar, but you can go beyond the usual suspects and cater to your kid’s tastes. Here’s some suggestions:
- Sprinkles – for decorating cupcakes or other holiday treats. I found some silver stars at Michaels for only $1.50 a pack.
- Recipe for a new holiday dessert. You’ll want to have all the ingredients at the ready because you know they’ll want to make that treat ASAP.
- Mini hot chocolate packet
- Tea – peppermint is nice and there’s no shortage of seasonal holiday flavours.
- Mini candy cane
- Hard maple candies in the shape of a maple leaf, natch.
- Nutcracker. Kids think it’s a hoot to crack nuts themselves.
- Individually wrapped chocolate. If you have a Lindt store nearby, they often have December specials along the lines of $35 for 100 chocolates which you can also throw into stockings and gift bags. Or stash in your night table….
- A few “liberated” Halloween candies. I often pick out liquorice and hard candies to supplement what you get in those gingerbread house kits.
- Mini packets of fancy salt – my teen loves these.
Holiday themed ideas
It’s nice to keep some holiday traditions going year after year. Why not incorporate them into your Christmas calendar?
- Christmas ornament. When they’re set to leave home for college or work, they’ll have a nice start for their own Christmas tree.
- Mini snow globe.
- Dreidel. We’re not Jewish, but who cares. It’s great introduction to Hanukkah and is a fun game to boot.
- A gift certificate for a local toy shop. Then as a family, go buy a toy to donate to a local charity.
- A sprig of mistletoe or holly or a snippet from an evergreen tree.
- Christmas cards for kids. It’s a craft and a holiday experience!
One friend of makes a point to include several activities and experiences in her kid’s calendar. She details the activity on a piece of festive paper and slips the note into the appropriate day. Getting the day right is key. You may have to shuffle days around because of the weather. Her notes read something like: Tonight we’re going to….
- Have an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows
- Make reindeer food
- Go to a holiday concert – handy if you’re buying those tickets anyway
- Bake holiday cookies
- Visit the Sugar Plum Fairy. Yes, you’ve got tickets to The Nutcracker!
- Go ice skating outdoors
- Go sledding (don’t forget the thermos full of hot chocolate)
- Eat dinner in front of the TV while watching a Christmas movie
- Have an indoor picnic for breakfast – right beside the Christmas tree
- Drive to the best Christmas light display in town
- Decorate the Christmas tree. Now your kids may groan because that’s something they expect to do anyway, but you could get them a mini tree of their very own and decorate it with the next item on this list….
- Origami paper to make paper decorations out of. Not sure how? Check out this book.
Easy peasy Advent or stocking stuffer ideas
Let’s face it, often times, a little trinket is all that’s in order. For that, head directly to the Dollar Store. Pick up some:
- Comic book
- Silly putty
- Mini post-it notes
- Hand warmers like HotShots
- Hat (doesn’t have to be a winter one, anything fun!)
- Reindeer headband
- Glow sticks
- Note pad
- New markers
- Glitter glue
- Little playing cards
- Mini games like Dominos
- Fuzzy sox
- Hair accessory
- Mini cars
- Fridge magnets
- Plastic figure toys
- Temporary tattoos
- Fidget spinner
More substantial Advent additions
Every once in awhile, you might want to gift something that’s going to occupy more of their time. For that, consider including the following gift ideas. Some items may be too large to physically put in that little advent slot, but you can screenshot the item and print it out or draw a picture of the gift and present it to them.
- Magazine – it’s never too early to get kids more interested in a subject
- Books – I recommend a gifting a few of these – especially for the younger set. If you’re on a tight budget, you can find holiday themed stories at second hand stores or garage sales.
- Crafts – there are sooo many holiday crafts out there I can’t possible detail them all, but check out a store like Michaels and pick up a few packets. Stuck at home? You could make beautiful snowflakes or make a Santa portrait gluing cotton puffs onto his beard.
- Grass growing heads
- Playmobil mini packs
- Rubber stamps and ink
- Mini sewing kits
- Photos on a USB stick – this one will take up some of your time, but not as much as trekking out to a mall…
- Wish paper
Advent calendar ideas for teens
Some of my go-to stores for the older set are: Canadian Tire, Eddie Bower, Chapters Indigo, Sephora and Lush. Easy Advent calendar ideas for teens include:
- Little or thin candles
- Hand cream
- Lip balm
- Make up
- Nail clippers
- Fancy nail file
- Nail polish
- Nice pen (there’s some really cool gel, fine tipped or Japanese ones)
- Buttons, pins or those iron on patches
- Sticky notes in cool colours
- Gift cards for: iTunes, coffee shop, Subway, etc….
- Hand sanitizer
- Pillow spray to ensure sweet dreams
- Room mist – often comes in mini sizes
- Roll on essential oils
- Allen key tool
- Bath bomb or salts
- Glasses case
- Cable organizer
- Daily planner for the upcoming year.
- Cool looking soap, like from Lush
- Travel-size toiletries or make-up. Sephora has some gorgeous (albeit pricy) ones.
- Scent samples. I nab these from the drug store.
- Beauty samples. Beauty counter staff are all too happy to distribute these AFTER you’ve purchased something. Little packets of moisturizer, cleanser, eye cream, etc… are fun to try.
And there you have it. Do you have any suggestions that I have included in this list? I’ll happily add them if you leave your ideas in the comment section below.
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