One of our favorite December traditions (besides hitting all the East Bay Christmas lights) is an advent calendar that helps us count down the days until December 25. But advent calendars don’t have to be used for Christmas. They can be modified for any occasion! Here are some favorites from this category.
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Many of us have a longstanding tradition of LEGO advent calendars. (Heather is partial to LEGO Star Wars, while my household was more interested in LEGO Friends, because pets.) We do use them as a Christmas countdown, but if the packaging doesn’t suit your needs, remove all contents and place in a less thematic container. (Read on for examples.)
During December, we usually have a couple of advent calendars going at the same time. Last year, I purchased the Bonne Maman calendar (24 adorable jam samples!) for myself and for my stepmom who does not celebrate Christmas. I did some crafty modifications to the holiday-themed art on the package and turned it into a birthday countdown calendar for her, placing colorful tape strategically over the holiday messaging. This year’s design appears to be much more Christmas-y, so I’m not sure I could tackle that.
Last year, I also bought the Trader Joe’s advent calendar for cats, and I do not recommend it. The treats were not enticing to my treat-obsessed cat. Do better, TJs! (Dare I try this one, that brings a new cat toy into our home each day?)
KiwiCo Advent Calendars
The advent calendars I think are most inspiring for this year are the two offered by KiwiCo, which is known for delivering engaging DIY projects for kids that stretch their imagination and problem-solving skills.
The Santa’s Railroad project comes with 24 envelopes. Inside each one is the materials for a mini-construction project. You’ll build a stop sign, a train car, or a track until eventually there’s a North Pole scene — all built by your family.
The Christmas Village project is similar. All the envelopes are included and you’ll have a different tiny project to work on each day.
Other ideas for DIY advent calendars
My daughter needed her spirits lifted last month. I had purchased a Taylor Swift advent calendar on Etsy, and it had 12 days of small items, each in a colorful envelope. Instead of waiting for December, I pinned all of the envelopes to a bulletin board and added a few of my own with some intangibles such as “redeemable for a ride to school” (she takes the bus) and “redeemable for takeout from Mezzo” (her current fave). So, although it’s November, we’ve already been through one countdown calendar!
Another flexible style of daily countdown that can be used as a birthday countdown or anything else to which you are looking forward is a set of tiny drawers into which you can put a piece of candy or a description of an activity, such as “make fancy hot chocolate”.
I love this one that you can decorate yourself, but you’ll find plenty of decorated ones on Amazon. I have searched high and low for a similar item with eight drawers for Hanukkah, but have not found one. A 24-drawer box could be used for the whole family, however, by assigning three drawers per night and placing a piece of gelt or a money gift in each drawer. (Can you cram socks in these drawers? IYKYK.)
🔔🎅🎁🎄Holiday Fun Quick Link🔔🎁s🌟Where to Get Santa Photos
🌟Holiday High Teas
🌟Bay Area Nutcrackers
🌟Best Christmas Lights
... and our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Fun For East Bay Families ---