Use this free printable set of Advent Calendar ideas & activities to inspire time together for a Christmas Countdown with your kids!
One of my favorite memories from childhood was our Advent Activities! It was a Christmas tradition to hang our Advent Calendar in the kitchen — a simple felt calendar with 24 small red pockets and some jingle bells on the top.
Each day, my brother, sister or myself placed a candy cane in one of the pockets — boy, did we fight over that honor 🙂
Good thing that 24 is easily divided by 3 so my Mom could quickly swoop in on any disagreement (along with a fast reminder that “Santa’s watching”).
And now we have a similar calendar in our house — 24 small pockets with a stocking of candy canes hanging nearby (and even a few arguments about whose turn it is will still occur 🙂
In addition to the candy canes, we also like to include an Advent calendar filler with a fun Christmas activity for each day. Some of the activities are pre-planned such as getting the tree or attending a holiday show. Others are surprise activities for our kids (like impromptu family movie nights or a holiday scavenger hunt we do together).
Every year, our activities change and we have amassed quite a list of festive holiday ideas so I thought I would share them with you. All of our Advent activities are family-focused because life goes by too quickly and the holidays are already so hectic — these tiny slips are a wonderful way to make sure we connect a little each day.
And to make things super easy (because like I said, the holidays are busy enough) we have 2 options for you!
- I’m including FREE printable slips for 50 of the BEST Advent activities — you can get yours below!
- Or choose from 140+ Advent Activities & printables, all your favorite holiday movies, traditions, books & activities!
Advent Calendar Ideas
If you don’t have an Advent Calendar, here are a few that we really like!
Each of these countdown calendars has small pockets that can hold activity slips (go to our full list of Advent Activity Ideas page to find more!).
Advent calendars double as a wonderful holiday decoration and will be one of the first things your kids will want to pull out each year. We’re including affiliate links so you can learn more about the items on our list!
I also love these options:
Plush Santa Christmas Countdown (long & thin so easily fits on any door!)
Or browse this huge assortment of Advent Calendars to find one that fits your family!!
Another option is to use our FREE printable Advent Calendar Numbers — just tape the advent activity slips to the back of them!
Advent Calendar Activity Ideas
It’s great to have a large list for a Christmas countdown that you can pick and choose from every year — it always helps to have a few back-up activities in case the weather or our schedules don’t cooperate with one of our original items.
We’re including special links to help you with planning some activities, free printable slips for your countdown and affiliate links for items we’ve used during our holidays. If your short on time and need more, you can get a full printable list of ALL the ideas + Holiday planning page and Christmas activities in the Advent Pack too!
Advent Activities for Families
So many Christmas traditions surround holiday outings at this time of the year. Browse this list of family-focused things to do and be inspired to get out and enjoy the season!
- Attend a holiday-themed story time your local library or bookstore
- Visit Santa
- Go cut/choose a Christmas Tree
- Attend a Tuba Christmas concert (held all across the US)
- Attend a special Advent church service or event
- Go pick out a special ornament for the tree
- Visit a historic site to explore Christmas Past
- Take a sleigh ride
- Attend your city’s tree lighting
- Go out for cocoa together (with marshmallows on top!)
- Hunt for Jingle Bells (easy outdoor activity to do near home!)
- Get into your holiday pj’s & drive around to see the light displays
- See a local Christmas show or play
Christmas Ideas & Games for Your Advent Countdown
If you’d like to avoid the crowds and enjoy some time together, these are great Advent activities to do at home!
- Play a game of Holiday Charades with this set of printable cards!
- Help with the holiday cards (put on stamps, draw pictures, sign your name)
- Pair a book with each of your holiday traditions (try these 30 Christmas books for inspiration)
- Visit Santa’s reindeer online
- Play a holiday game — these make fun family gifts too!
Christmas-opoly for Monopoly fans
Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Operation (put the Bumble together 😉
or a rousing game of Santa Cookie Elf Candy Snowman
and this *NEW* one this year — The Santa Claus Game!
- Write a letter to Santa with these free printable Santa Letter pages!
- Sing Christmas carols & have the kids play along with some fun instruments
- Explore a little science with this free printable Holiday Experiment!
- Decorate your room for Christmas
- Read a new book for the holidays
- Look through old photos & family movies (and share memories of holidays past!)
- Learn about Christmas around the world with this free printable Christmas Geography activity!
- Put up your Nativity together
- Host a Gingerbread Hunt with these free printables!
- Have story time under the tree with the lights
- Help decorate the front porch or put up the lights
- Trim the Tree
- Do a puzzle together (a holiday puzzle is a bonus!)
- Or try a few of these — 25 Ways to Slow Down & Enjoy the Holidays Together
- Visit one of these 14 Festive Christmas websites for kids
- Get more ideas for your family at 100+ Ideas & Activities for your Christmas Countdown
Nature Activities for Your Advent Calendar
- Try a few of these nature-themed Christmas play ideas
- Enjoy an afternoon ice skating
- Go sledding together
- Take a winter walk and scout out the animals – use this FREE printable Holiday Walk in the Woods activity when you go!
- Make a bird feeder for our feathered friends
Ideas for Advent Activities that Help Others
Blessing others during the holidays is always high on our list — find inspiration with these easy volunteer and service activities!
- Deliver cookies to someone special or a community helper
- Donate food items to your local pantry
- Collect old towels & blankets to bring to the animal shelter
- Do some Random Acts of Kindness
- Choose outgrown toys and donate to a local charity
- Donate winter coats, hats or mittens to a shelter
- Sign up to ring bells for the Salvation Army as a family
- Adopt an angel from the Angel Tree
- Sing carols at a local nursing home
Looking for more ideas? Browse the FREE printable list of 30 Service Ideas & Gracious Giving tracking sheet to bring the spirit of the holidays to others this year!
Family-friendly Christmas Movies for Advent
We love cuddling up with a good holiday film together. Our entire movie list can be found in the Advent Activity printable pack which will make planning your Christmas countdown SO easy!
Try a few of these traditional holiday movies and newer favorites:
Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas(one of our family’s favorites!)
And if you like classic vintage Christmas movies, here’s a few of my FAVES!
March of the Wooden Soldiers (one of my favorites as a kid!)
Christmas Activities in the Kitchen
The holidays are always the perfect time to invite your kids into the kitchen more!
- Light an advent candle before dinner each night
- Bake cookies together
- Make hot cocoa and add your favorite toppings
- Have Grinch kabobs for an easy holiday snack
- ‘Bake’ a holiday mix that will make the house smell yummy
- Make snowman pancakes or Rudolph pancakes
Easy Christmas Crafts for Advent
- Make a paper bag stocking ornament (it’s a fun place to hide the Advent slips too!)
- Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them on your windows
- Make your own DIY Advent Calendar together
- Make your own ornaments
- Create your own wrapping paper from the Nuture Store
- Draw a picture for out-of-town relatives
- Make a pomander
- Create a Craft Stick Christmas Puzzle from Fireflies & Mudpies
- Put together some Reindeer Food
- Make a holiday card for your teacher or favorite neighbor
Free Printable Advent Calendar Activities
We’ve included 50 of the BEST ideas for Christmas activities to include in your Advent Calendar!!
Grab a copy of these free printable fillers below — choose your favorites, tuck them in the small pockets and watch your kids’ eyes light up as they discover what fun ideas await them each day!
And be sure to pop over and see the FREE printable Christmas Countdown Numbers that you can use for December too!
I hope this brings a little fun into your season —
Enjoy the Holidays!