I grew up in a family that loved Christmas and everything about it no matter how cheesy. We had our own traditions that we created over the years like sending personalized cards to relatives, decorating the Christmas tree together while listening to carols, waiting for Santa, having dinner together after opening the presents and so on.
Now that I have my own family, I have continued some of the traditions from when I was young but also started new traditions like doing an advent calendar for my kids. This is a relatively new tradition, we have only started it last year but it was a success and I can’t wait to do it this year as well.
I know that it can sometimes be tricky to find so many Advent calendar filler ideas for the kids, especially if you are a busy parent. So, I thought that a helping hand might be in order with some fantastic advent calendar ideas for kids, both with ready-made calendars and some DIY ones.
I have divided the post into 4 sections: advent calendar ideas for babies, for toddlers, for preschoolers and for grade school kids.
But before we move on to see the ideas, perhaps the term of an advent calendar is new to you. Allow me to explain briefly.
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What is an Advent Calendar?
An advent calendar is, as the name suggests, a special calendar used to count down to the 25th of December, the birth of Jesus Christ. It has been around since the 1850s (or so it is believed) and the tradition is gaining more and more popularity today. There are different types of calendars, some very simple with just a background image and tiny flaps others more sophisticated made out of different materials like felt, cardboard that contain toys and gifts.
Whatever the material and design, all Advent Calendars have one thing in common, the 24 doors/flaps/pockets that need to be opened in order, one for every day leading to Christmas Day.
Why should you adopt the Advent Calendar tradition?
Of course, this is more of a personal choice and it’s up to each family whether they want to do this or not. From my point of view, I love Advent Calendars for several reasons:
- they are immensely fun
- they build up a sense of anticipation
- They teach kids patience ( the struggle is real not to open all the flaps in one day)
- It is a wonderful opportunity to tell kids about Jesus Christ ( for those who choose to do so)
Some Advent Calendar filler ideas
Some Advent Calendars come complete with little gifts so you don’t have to worry about that. Others have empty pockets so you can fill them with whatever you want. Of course, if you are a crafty person, you can make your calendar start to finish.
Here are some Christmas Advent calendar ideas for kids that you can use:
- Pull back toy cars
- LEGO/DUPLO pieces
- Uninflated balloons
- Tickets (for the movies, Zoo, a concert, theatre etc)
- Finger puppets
- Little toy characters (for example, my son loves Paw Patrol)
- Treasure map leading to a bigger object
- Clues (each day has a clue that leads to an object hidden around the house)
- Accessories for dollies
- Puzzle pieces
- Play Doh
- Craft materials (like pom poms, glitter, googly eyes, pipe cleaners etc)
- Playing cards
- Fidget spinner
- Pocket board games
- Cristmas ornaments
- Bracelet charms
How cute are these ready-made Advent Calendars? They come with small gifts in each of the 24 compartments so you don’t have to worry about and spend time coming up with things to put in the drawers. Pretty and convenient.
Then there are beautiful calendars that don’t include the little gifts. A good, sturdy Christmas Advent Calendar will last you for many merry years so it might be worth investing in a quality one.
There are so many options out there that it’s impossible not to find something that you like. And if you are a crafty person, making your own Advent Calendar is the way to go.
If you opt for buying a calendar without the presents or making a DIY one and wondering what to fill it up with, here are some great Advent Calendar ideas for kids of all ages.
Advent Calendar ideas for babies
This is our first Christmas as a family of four. Our baby girl was born this summer so she will be 6 months old in December. This is so exciting.
So, I’ve been thinking of how I could include her in this Christmas tradition considering that babies put everything in their mouths so small presents are out of the question. Well, tricky as it may be, there are several options out there for babies.
Most of my baby’s toys at the moment are teethers, fabric books, stuffies and a few toys that have lights and sounds. Other baby-appropriate toys include: stacking toys, sensory toys, blocks, rattles, walkers. So, these would be good Advent Calendar ideas for babies but you will have to wrap them individually as these are not small enough to fit in the little drawers (at least not in the ones that you’d find on Amazon).
It is true that buying 24 toys may get somewhat expensive. A solution to that is to buy a toy with more pieces and give one piece each day. This will significantly reduce the costs as you will only have to get 2-3 toys, depending on the number of pieces. Such toys are blocks, stacking toys, sets of bath toys etc.
Baby’s first Christmas is so exciting, albeit more for the parents than the little one who has no clue what’s going on. Let’s be honest, it’s another excuse to buy cute stuff for the little human. I am all in for that!
Advent Calendar Ideas for Toddlers
Toddlerhood is a great period. They are old enough to understand what Christmas is all about and get all excited about the presents. Plus, at this age, they start having favourite characters so choosing an Advent Calendar is easier as you will most likely find the themed calendar online.
For us, my little had the Peppa Pig period, then switched to Paw Patrol which he still likes. Another TV show he was hooked on when he was between babyhood and toddlerhood was Thomas the train (I recall it as the choo-choo period). Luckily, there are great ready-made calendars on Amazon with little toys that encourage open-ended play which is an important part of childhood development.
If you already have the calendar and only need filler ideas here is some inspiration:
- finger puppets are great for role-play thus encouraging the child’s communication skills and imagination. This pack, for example, has 38 pieces, so you could give one or two/ day, and includes family puppets, marine animals, farm and wild animals.
- Lego Duplo and Playmobil. Do I need to list all the reasons why these type of toys are great for kids? Even though they are not the cheapest, they are high quality and almost indestructible so they can be passed on after the child has outgrown them. Playmobil and Duplo sets are a perfect Advent Calendar filler idea for toddlers as the pieces are big enough not to pose a choking risk. If you prefer, there are also ready-made Playmobil Advent Calendars.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Preschoolers
The preschool age gives us even more cool options regarding Advent Calendars. We can include arts and crafts supplies, literacy and numeracy materials, puzzles and smaller toys since they don’t tend to put everything in their mouths anymore.
I absolutely love these Christmas trees either made of felt with detachable ornaments and 24 pockets or one made of thick, durable carton with 24 magnetic ornaments.
My son is a preschooler now and has just started to show interest in Lego so I am planning on getting him some nice sets. There are some awesome Lego Advent Calendars out there that are fit for this age. This one, for example, comes with 349 pieces and a play mat.
Advent Calendar Ideas for 6+ Kids
There are some great Advent Calendar ideas for Kids in grade school out there. Girls will surely love the Barbie-themed calendar and the accessories calendar while boys will enjoy the Hot Wheels Advent Calendar and the Military Army men one.
If your child loves science experiments and has an innate curiosity about how things work, then the Crazy Scientist Advent Calendar will be perfect. It comes with 24 fun experiments from the fields of biology, mechanics, chemistry, optics and magnetics.
Although I have mixed feelings about slime I know that kids are crazy about it. If this is the case in your house, the “Fantastic Slime” Advent Calendar will be a hit. It contains 12 cups of different coloured slime, 11 cups of sprinkles and a little toy Santa.
If you are a crafty person, you might want to create your own Advent Calendar. Here are 20 DIY Advent Calendar ideas that look great and will brighten up your home. These beautiful, fun ideas make me want to grab my scissors, glue and DIY materials and start crafting even though I’m one of those people who have two left hands when it comes to such activities. However, these ideas seem simple enough for anyone to make. I especially like the “acts of kindness ring” and the “metal buckets” ones.
We have been discussing Advent Calendar ideas for kids and I am sure that your little one(s) will get a fantastic calendar but after all that effort mommy (or daddy) deserves a treat as well, right? Feast your senses with these Advent Calendars. You’ve earned it!
Which Advent Calendar will you get for your child? Let me know in the comments section below and also don’t forget to share this with your friends.
Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!
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Mom of two wonderful children, dedicated teacher and book lover.