Advent calendars are a fun holiday tradition, and even though we usually think of them as being filled with chocolate and sweet treats, I wanted to create one that combined the fun of receiving gifts with the joy of giving them.
Instead of chocolates and other sugary treats (because we all know there’s going to be enough of those in the coming weeks!) I wanted to do something that the whole family would enjoy, including little gifts, and activities that we could enjoy doing together leading up to Christmas. I didn’t want it to become too expensive or over- the- top, but something I’d have fun putting together and we’d all look forward to each morning.
While there are a few gifts mixed in, the main idea behind this advent calendar is to bring the family together, get into the holiday spirit, and teach our kids about kindness and giving- not just at this time of year, but all year. If you’re looking for fun ideas for the family going into the holiday season, I hope this candy- free advent calendar gives you some ideas!
For mine I’m using a wooden box I picked up at a thrift store, and used a picture frame for the numbers; nothing too complicated but something that the kids can open- like a traditional candy advent calendar- and that will be big enough to fit small items in. The fun thing about advent calendars is that there are so many styles and ways to put them together, the hardest part is deciding what to put in them.
For ours I’ve rounded up a few little gifts to open throughout the month, items/ materials for activities (ie sprinkles for cookie decorating), and good deeds to do leading up to Christmas, along with 12 random acts of kindness to perform each month throughout the year ahead. For some days there will a note or envelope with an activity or good deed written on it, for others there will be little gifts the kids can open. While I love the advent calendars with candy, I liked the idea of trying out this style and may include some sweet treats in future years (plus we all know there will be plenty of candy and chocolate over the holiday season!). This is my first year doing this (Will did something similar last year and I give him credit for giving me this idea) and I hope it becomes a tradition we continue.
If you like this idea and want to try it with your own family, here are some ideas to get you started with your own advent calendar:
- decorating cookies (Dainty Sprinkle Co has some cute ones for the holidays!)
- making salt dough ornaments
- kid- friendly crafts (we’re going to be trying out this Fantastic Spinner from Kaboodles)
- holiday baking day
- festive family events (check out this giveaway to enter to win tickets to Bright Nights in Stanley Park!)
- small gifts for each member of the family
- Christmas pjs
- hot chocolate station items
- snowman kit (carrot, scarf, hat, etc)
- picking out a toy and donating to a local charity/ toy drive*
- putting together a care package for a family in need
- shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway
- baking banana bread for a local homeless shelter
- making dog biscuits/ donating food to a local animal shelter
- walking a neighbor’s dog
- 12 random acts of kindness- 1 to perform each month of the year
*Purchase a gift for the Kaboodles Annual Toy Drive and receive 10% off the price + they’ll deliver it for you. All toys donated to the Kaboodles Toy Drive go to the Vancouver Christmas Bureau.
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