How to Make an Easy DIY Christmas Advent Calendar Gift Ideas

by | Holidays

Looking to make Christmas extra special for your family this year and add extra Christmas magic? Our family looks forward to our easy DIY Advent boxes every holiday season!  Keep reading to see how our family celebrates Advent in about 5 special minutes every morning in December and how you can make DIY Advent calendar ideas for a beautiful holiday tradition too!


Why easy DIY Advent boxes for the Christmas season?


Well, when I was a little girl, we had a felt Christmas countdown calendar with velcro pieces.  It hung on the freezer in the laundry room, right beside our back door.  I remember racing to try and beat my big brother to get to move the piece first each day.

Since then, I’ve come to love the season of Advent and the intentional meaning behind why we celebrate.  Because I wanted to pass this importance along to my own family and create a special holiday tradition, we started our easy DIY calendar boxes several years ago.

My kids have already been talking about them for weeks and everyone is excited for the first day of December to roll around!

Which means…I’m already behind.  I need to start shopping SOON for favorite advent calendar fillers.  One time saving tip?  Creating boxes like these makes for reusable advent calendars so I don’t have to redo them every year!

I hope this post inspires you to start your own Advent calendar tradition with your family members.  It is a great way to bring everyone together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  At the same time, it is so much fun!  I hope the fun ideas in this post will spark creativity for your and your family as you get into the holiday spirit!

small advent boxes arranged in a cream metal cubby

Why do we celebrate the Advent?

Traditionally, Advent has been celebrated in churches around the world.  In the Latin language, advent means “coming”.  Celebrating Advent literally means celebrating the coming of Jesus into the world as a Baby in the manger.

Advent is observed as the four Sundays and weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  At the same time, it is often observed as December 1st through Christmas Day.

Because the Christmas holiday is so meaningful to our faith, our family observes Advent with a daily devotional reading and opening of an Advent box.

This tradition has become one of our family’s favorite things about Christmas.  Does it take some extra planning and effort on my part, as the mom?  Of course.  But everything good about parenting requires intentionality.  The meaning of Christmas is certainly worth my efforts!

Bonus: These easy DIY Advent boxes actually don’t require a ton of time or work.  They are easy to make, easy to fill with small gifts, and oh-so-fun to open each day during the month of December!

Double Bonus: our kids actually get excited every morning to sit down together as a family and do our Advent reading!  That makes the time and effort more than worth it!

What are the four Sundays of Advent?

In order, the four Sundays of Advent are observed as:

  • First Advent candle: Hope
  • Second Advent candle: Love
  • Third Advent candle: Joy
  • Fourth Advent candle: Peace

Aren’t these very words, in themselves, so beautiful?  Christmas is so much more meaningful when it is approached from a perspective and heart of hope, love, joy, and peace.

set of cubbies filled with deconstructed books and advent boxes with real-touch garland strung across the

How can we do Advent at home?

Do you celebrate Advent as a family?  Or perhaps it is a special thing you do on your own?  Whether you celebrate it in large or small ways, it can be a really meaningful time to keep your focus on true meaning of Christmas.

For our family, things that are too complicated tend to just not happen at all.  Or we start, with great intentions, but just can’t keep it going during the entirety of the busy season.

So, here are 5 tips to celebrate Advent as a family:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Set aside specific, intentional time to celebrate Advent as a family.
  • Create small Advent gifts throughout the month.
  • Create a DIY Advent tradition that works for your family.  That could be your own Advent calendar tradition or some other type of meaningful celebration.  (In this post, I’ll show you our family’s favorite!)
  • Take a brief minute each day to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas as you celebrate Advent with the whole family.

You can read all the details about how we incorporate these easy tips into our busy December month.  I have it all written out to hopefully help you!  Find the details on THIS post!


How do we celebrate Advent meaningfully?

For our family, two specific things have made our Advent Christmas activities more meaningful as we celebrate together.  First of all, taking intentional time each day, even just 5 minutes, is something we really look forward to.  It isn’t always easy and requires some extra effort to make that happen each morning.  However, because everyone loves doing it, it is a tradition that we are all willing to make the effort for!

During that time, we read a special book.  THIS BOOK has become the second thing that has made our Advent so much more meaningful.  I highly recommend purchasing this for your family, no matter the ages.  It also makes a great gift for grandchildren, nieces and nephews, neighbors, and friends.

Truly, I cannot recommend “The Wonder of the Greatest Gift” enough to you.  The interactive tree and ornaments are beautiful and add a fun element.  The readings are meaningful, easy to read, and brief to allow you to make it happen every day during the season!


view of small cardboard advent boxes styled in a cubby

How to Make Easy DIY Advent Boxes for a Special Family Christmas

Our favorite DIY Advent idea was actually born out of my realization that my vintage French postal sorter had over 25 holes.  I was thinking how I could decorate it for Christmas and thought that it could make a really fun Advent calendar display and include sweet treats and tiny toys too.

I’ll be honest that I wasn’t trying to be overly spiritual or even had grand expectations that it could work.  I just wanted some way for us to try and be more intentional about celebrating Advent as a family.

It seemed like a statement display with fun little family gifts might be a way to help get everyone on board.  At the same time, it could be a way to make sure we actually stopped to spend these few minutes together each day to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Our own DIY advent calendar has ended up being a wonderful tradition for our family.  Our children look forward to it every year and down the road, I already plan to make DIY Christmas Advent boxes for our children to take with them when they leave home.  (Not that I’m anxious for that to happen. Thankfully, we have a few more years!)

How We Make Our DIY Advent Boxes

There are a lot of different ways that you could create your own easy DIY Advent boxes to use with your family.  I came up with this idea based on the space I had to display it and fun treats I wanted to use.  However, you do not need a large cubby to enjoy a fun tradition!

You could line your boxes up on a shelf or console table.  Try incorporating them into Christmas decor on a bookshelf!  These boxes could even make a great display in a playroom space or on a mantel and hold perfect Advent calendar fillers!

Here’s how we made our boxes:

close up of small cardboard boxes numbered for advent

Materials Needed for Easy DIY Advent Christmas boxes:

close up of an advent box numbered 25 for Christmas Day

Ideas for Gifts to Put in the Easy DIY Christmas Advent Boxes:

Non-gift Advent Calendar Filler Ideas and Activity Ideas:

  • Coupons for an easy family outing, like driving around to look at Christmas lights or attending a Christmas concert together (perfect for the Christmas spirit!)
  • Notes for acts of service: We try to have at least one day where we deliver Christmas donuts and Christmas cards to a few people in our community
  • Notes for Random Acts of Kindness within our family
  • Coupon for a Christmas pajama and movie night
  • Coupon for a sleepover at grandparents (this one is really great about mid-way through the month when you need a little break and some time to finish up your shopping!
  • Do a scavenger hunt if there are larger items, such as new Christmas pjs or a Christmas DVD that might not fit in the box

Small gift ideas

(The craft store and dollar store has lots of fun and creative options for Advent calendar gifts, so just shop around! One year I found mini Uno games that were the perfect size for small presents!)

view of sitting room with Christmas decor and a white cubby with advent boxes

How to Decorate Advent Boxes

There are lots of ideas and many ways to style and decorate your easy DIY Christmas Advent boxes!  Since my postal sorter has more than 25 cubbies, I put some old books in a few for some extra texture and then leave others empty.

On the top of the postal sorter, I add a simple Christmas touch with this realistic winter cedar garland.  I love how it falls so naturally and looks so pretty in this space!  It really does look SO REAL!

If you are lining your DIY Advent boxes on a shelf, try giving some variety in the heights.  Vintage, thrifted books work great for that.  Also, you can add some touches of your Christmas colors with the books.  At the same time, you can also use neutral books or turn the spines around so that the neutral pages show.

Tuck in some bits of small Christmas greenery stems or even a few small bells, like these, for a festive touch!

Pro Tip: Visit your local Christmas tree stand and ask if you can pick up some of the cuttings off the ground.  They always give them to me for free and you can’t beat free decor!


What are 5 different ways to celebrate Advent?


There are so many ways to celebrate Advent with your family.  To me, the most important part is setting aside intentional time to do so.  Otherwise, to be honest, the busy activities and rush of the season can leave us breathless and empty when it’s all said and done.  The point of celebrating Advent is not a Pinterest-worthy performance.  Rather, it is a simple, intentional act of reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas time.

Here are 5 other ways that I think are both fun and meaningful to celebrate Advent as a family:

  • Attend a local Christmas event at a church, such as a concert, Christmas Eve service, or Living Nativity.  One year, we took our children to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  It was so fun and special, yet incredibly meaningful.
  • Listen to Christmas hymns while your family drives around to see Christmas lights.  Sing along!
  • Read a Bible verse each day and have the children take turns moving the Nativity piece on this simple Advent calendar.
  • Make Christmas treats together and deliver care packages to special people in your community.
  • Host an Operation Christmas Child party with your friends and their children.  Samaritan’s Purse makes it easy to partner through HERE on their official Operation Christmas Child Shoebox site.

On Christmas morning, make a big deal about opening the final gift of your homemade advent calendar together. The daily surprises can culminate with something extra special, like a family gift or even a trip!

advent boxes in a white cubby with a Christmas garland

What should YOU do during Advent?

The great news is that Advent is about reflection and relationship.  You can celebrate Advent as elaborately or as simply as you want to do with your family.  At the same time, you can celebrate in a fun way with little gifts or look for completely free ways to recognize the season with a personal touch.

Advent is all about reflecting on preparing our hearts and homes for Jesus.  That is truly the best part of all.

Traditional Advent calendar preparation won’t look the same for each family, nor should it, necessarily.  I hope that this post gives you some creative ideas with different things to try.  If you’ve never celebrated Advent, it’s not too late to start.  In fact, there are some simple and easy ideas here to help you get started with everyone from little kids to older kids and even adults.

However, if your family does celebrate Advent together already, I hope this post simply inspires you to keep doing what you do!  Mix it up, add some fun, or keep it the same.  Traditions are a great idea as well as a beautiful gift.  I hope this inspires you to find one that you can stick to next year and every year after!

Most of all, I hope this post gives you a moment to pause and consider how you will prepare your own heart and home for Christmas during this amazing season!


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