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

Who wouldn’t want to jump out of bed every day in December? (Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)

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.

homemade advent calendar

If you make your own Advent calendar you can customize the size. (Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)

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:

  1. Sprinkles – for decorating cupcakes or other holiday treats. I found some silver stars at Michaels for only $1.50 a pack.
  2. 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.
  3. Mini hot chocolate packet
  4. Tea – peppermint is nice and there’s no shortage of seasonal holiday flavours.
  5. Mini candy cane
  6. Hard maple candies in the shape of a maple leaf, natch.
  7. Nutcracker. Kids think it’s a hoot to crack nuts themselves.
  8. 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….
  9. A few “liberated” Halloween candies. I often pick out liquorice and hard candies to supplement what you get in those gingerbread house kits.
  10. Mini packets of fancy salt – my teen loves these.
German chocolate Advent calendar

Not that there’s anything wrong with a purely chocolate Advent calendar… (Credit: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)

Holiday themed ideas

It’s nice to keep some holiday traditions going year after year. Why not incorporate them into your Christmas calendar?

  1. Christmas ornament. When they’re set to leave home for college or work, they’ll have a nice start for their own Christmas tree.
  2. Mini snow globe.
  3. Dreidel. We’re not Jewish, but who cares. It’s great introduction to Hanukkah and is a fun game to boot.
  4. A gift certificate for a local toy shop. Then as a family, go buy a toy to donate to a local charity.
  5. A sprig of mistletoe or holly or a snippet from an evergreen tree.
  6. Christmas cards for kids. It’s a craft and a holiday experience! 

Experiences

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….

  1. Have an outdoor fire and roast marshmallows
  2. Make reindeer food
  3. Go to a holiday concert – handy if you’re buying those tickets anyway
  4. Bake holiday cookies
  5. Visit the Sugar Plum Fairy. Yes, you’ve got tickets to The Nutcracker!
  6. Go ice skating outdoors
  7. Go sledding (don’t forget the thermos full of hot chocolate)
  8. Eat dinner in front of the TV while watching a Christmas movie
  9. Have an indoor picnic for breakfast – right beside the Christmas tree
  10. Drive to the best Christmas light display in town
  11. 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….
  12. 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:

  1. Balloons
  2. Bubbles
  3. Comic book
  4. Whistle
  5. Silly putty
  6. Stickers
  7. Mini post-it notes
  8. Glitter
  9. Hand warmers like HotShots
  10. Gloves
  11. Hat (doesn’t have to be a winter one, anything fun!)
  12. Reindeer headband
  13. Glow sticks
  14. Note pad
  15. Crayons
  16. New markers
  17. Glitter glue
  18. Little playing cards
  19. Mini games like Dominos
  20. Fuzzy sox
  21. Bookmark
  22. Hair accessory
  23. Mini cars
  24. Fridge magnets
  25. Plastic figure toys
  26. Temporary tattoos
  27. Marbles
  28. 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.

  1. Magazine – it’s never too early to get kids more interested in a subject
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Grass growing heads
  5. Lego
  6. Playmobil mini packs
  7. Rubber stamps and ink
  8. Mini sewing kits
  9. Photos on a USB stick – this one will take up some of your time, but not as much as trekking out to a mall…
  10. 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:

  1. Little or thin candles
  2. Hand cream
  3. Lip balm
  4. Make up
  5. Jewelry
  6. Nail clippers
  7. Fancy nail file
  8. Nail polish
  9. Journal
  10. Nice pen (there’s some really cool gel, fine tipped or Japanese ones)
  11. Buttons, pins or those iron on patches
  12. Sticky notes in cool colours
  13. Gift cards for: iTunes, coffee shop, Subway, etc….
  14. Hand sanitizer
  15. Pillow spray to ensure sweet dreams
  16. Room mist – often comes in mini sizes
  17. Roll on essential oils
  18. Carabiner
  19. Allen key tool
  20. Bath bomb or salts
  21. Glasses case
  22. Cable organizer
  23. Daily planner for the upcoming year. 
  24. Cool looking soap, like from Lush
  25. Travel-size toiletries or make-up. Sephora has some gorgeous (albeit pricy) ones.
  26. Scent samples. I nab these from the drug store.
  27. 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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Advent calendar filler ideas

If you’d like to keep these ideas for future reference, simply pin the image above to Pinterest. I hope you’ll also follow me, Travels with Baggage on Pinterest, too!

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