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Child looks at the advent calendar. Baby girl in a Christmas hat and pajamas shows on first gift.

Advent Calendar Alternatives

APRIL 10, 2023
Child looks at the advent calendar. Baby girl in a Christmas hat and pajamas shows on first gift.

We just finished Thanksgiving at our house, where we ate until our stomachs hurt and then had pie for breakfast the next day. We are diving into cookie season and we still have two jars full of candy left over from Halloween.

My point is, that we have enough sugar and junk food in our house without adding it to the advent calendar we fill every year. If you are in the same predicament, here are some ideas we, and other people we know, have used to celebrate the season without sugar coating it.

1. 24 things I love about you. I used a template for business cards on my computer to write up different things I love about our daughter. These included her sense of style, that she still liked to snuggle with me, that she accepted that I was probably going to move to college with her some day (I did add “just kidding” at the end of that one) – simple things to let her know she is always special to me.

2. 24 Acts of Kindness. We did this one last year. I wrote up 24 different things we could do to make someone else’s day. (There are plenty of calendars of these online if you can’t think of any on your own.) We tried to keep it simple – smile at a stranger, send a note to a friend, leave an inspiring message where someone will find it. The fun was in telling how it went at the end of the day.

3. Puzzle Note. I bought an inexpensive do it yourself puzzle kit and then wrote a Christmas note to my children. Every day they found a new piece of two of the puzzle that they put together to reveal the message. It was like a wheel of fortune game at the begining with everyone trying to guess what the message was from only a few pieces.

4. Treasure Map. A riff on the puzzle note is to hide some gifts in the house and make a map of where to find them. Rip the map into 25 pieces that the kids have to put together each day to try to figure out where the treasure is. Note: I’d keep the x marks the spot for the last day or it could be a short advent.

5. Activity Coupons. A friend did this one, where she made activity coupons – one for each day. Good for a dish of ice cream. Good for one back rub. Good for a trip to the dollar store…Just little things, but the kids had a great time getting a new one every day and mixing and matchign with their brothers and sisters.

6. Calendar of Laughs. Grab a joke book and write out 24 of the best Mom jokes to read out each morning for a festive giggle. Here, we’ll start you off: “What do elves learn in school? The Elf-abet!” Boom-tish.

Headshot of Kim Hoey Stevenson freelance writerIn her professional life, Kim Hoey Stevenson is a freelance writer who has written for such media outlets as American Online, Money Talks News, Gannett, Delaware Today, PARADE Magazine and Delaware Beach Life. She traveled extensively both personally and professionally. Most notably, she was in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope to cover the change over from US to United Nations forces. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Kim used her degree in psychology to help co-author the book, “Overcoming Misfortune: Children Who Beat the Odds,” a book that explored the positive side of psychology. Kim is married and is mother to one child at home, six grown step-children and grandmother to 15.