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The buildup to Christmas is one of the best parts of the holiday season, especially when there’s an advent calendar involved! Use the ideas below to get your kids even more excited for Christmas!

Go the traditional route with chocolate, or fill your advent calendar with treats like these:

  • messages
  • ornaments
  • candy
  • LEGOs
  • money
  • a treasure map
  • riddles
  • beads and buttons
  • stickers

1. Hide treats in a mini muffin tin.

Here’s a fast and easy project that starts with magnetic sheets. Cut out circles using patterned paper and glue them to the magnetic sheets. Most mini muffin pans already have holes, making it a cinch to string ribbon through if you want to hang your advent calendar.


2. Design a giant grab box.

Tape a box closed then use a spray adhesive before wrapping it in festive paper. Cut a hole in the top of the box, fill with 24 surprises, and use a big bow to cover the hole and hide what’s inside.


3. Fill plastic capsules decorated as snowmen.

Gather some frosted capsules with different colored lids (you can get 50 for under $13 on Amazon). If the capsules you get are see-through, try spray-painting the bottoms white or filling with white crinkle paper. Decorate, then drill holes in the lids to string a cord through and hang.


4. Keep things simple with a shoe organizer.

Pick up a 24-pocket shoe organizer and some card stock for the numbers. Use colored clothespins to attach each number, and fill every pocket with a treat.


5. Insert activities in recycled toilet paper tubes.

Gather toilet paper tubes, some crepe paper or ribbon, string, and paper. Start by cutting colorful crepe paper into strips. Firmly squeeze one end of a tube shut, and attach crepe paper tails with a stapler. Hang tubes from a string using mini clothespins.


6. Create a photo banner.

Use shipping tags designed with a holiday theme for the date. Place a photo behind each tag, and when all the tags are removed, you’ll have a photo banner of your favorite images.



7. Turn matchboxes into gift holders.

These are basically miniature drawers and perfect for the tiniest of gifts. Tape them together or onto a tray and hang on a wall. You’ll find a set of 30 craft matchboxes on Amazon for under $14.


8. Attach ornaments to shipping tags.

Attach ornaments to shipping tags.


Use tacks or metal cup hooks to hang the tags and ornaments directly onto a wall or on a corkboard. The best part is, each day kids can look forward to removing an ornament and putting it on the tree.


9. Create an advent-calendar tree with a ladder.

This is as simple as it gets, and it looks so pretty. Insert treats into wax bags and use washi tape to attach a daily bag onto the rungs of a ladder. Hang ornaments to make your ladder look even more like a Christmas tree.


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10. Fill toilet-paper-tube elves with daily surprises.

Follow Carolyn Creates’s hat template, which gets you two bodies and a hat per paper. Apply the bottoms and hats with glue to recycled toilet paper tubes, then draw on a face. Add numbers on the hats or attach them separately. You’ll also want to cut out a 2 x 2 inch square and tape it to the bottom of each elf to keep treats from falling out.


11. Use mini burlap sacks for a rustic look.

Go rustic this holiday season by filling mini burlap sacks with small trinkets leading up to Christmas. A stencil kit for the numbers adds to the rustic look, as does hanging the burlap garland from twine and clothespins.


12. Hide treats in empty K-Cups.

Here’s one way to feel less guilty about your used K-Cups piling up in a landfill. Collect and clean out 24 K-Cups. Then, cut a Christmas tree shape out of cardboard and wrap it in gift paper. Cut tissue paper into circles and apply numbers. Fill cups with treats, and attach tissue paper “lids” with glue. Finally, hot glue the K-Cups to your cardboard Christmas tree.



13. Pack daily surprises in decorated takeout containers.

Insert surprises into takeout containers and label each with numbered decorative paper.


14. Use a corkboard and festive cards to count down the days.

Use a cork board and festive cards to count down the days.


Frame a corkboard yourself, or buy one like this and decorate the frame. Hang ribbons from pretty cards, and glue on buttons or hang with tacks.


15. Give empty tin cans new life.

What a great way to use up those tin cans! Paint the cans, drill holes in the sides, and add wire handles. You can add numbers any way you like.


16. Build an advent calendar from magnetic tins.

Decorate tins like these with holiday-themed paper using a 2-inch circle punch. Print or hand-write your advent calendar numbers before cutting them out, then cover each circle number in Modge Podge; lay them on each tin lid to dry. Cover a metal sheet with scrapbook paper before arranging your advent-calendar tins.


17. Decorate a gingerbread house with numbered cookies.

Make things easy on yourself by using a gingerbread house kit, then create your advent cookies using this classic recipe while you wait for the gingerbread house’s icing to harden. Stick the cookies to the gingerbread house with melted chocolate chips.


18. String together a paper-plate advent calendar.

Gather 24 paper plates and fold them in half like a calzone. Staple each shut leaving enough space at the lip to fit in treats or gifts. Decorate each one with the kids, and hang them up anywhere and anyway you like.


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