DIY Christmas advent calendar and festive bingo for the kids

DIY Advent calendar in beach white house with Christmas decorations on mantel and stockings

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And that means one thing, it's time to get out the advent calendars.

While most people opt for store-bought ones packed with chocolates or other treats, the last few years I have made a DIY Christmas advent calendar that also doubles as a Christmas decoration for the house.

The benefit of making your own advent calendar is that you can pick what goes inside, make the lead up to Christmas a little bit more magical, inspirational and fun for your little ones and, the biggest bonus, gifts can be whatever that means to you. Think the gift of your time like a movie ticket where you will take your child out for some special bonding time.

And more than just making the festive season magical for little ones, this year I really want to encourage my little ones to give back to others. On one of the days the advent calendar asks them to get a present and wrap it up and take it to one of the giving trees at Target or a supermarket and leave it there for someone in need. On another day, I encourage them to make a card or something else crafty for someone in their life they are grateful for.

DIY advent calendar in white modern house with mantel with Christmas decorations and stockings

What is a Christmas advent calendar?

A Christmas advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent from December 1st to 25th in anticipation of Christmas.

How to make a DIY Christmas advent calendarDIY Christmas advent calendar with drawstring bag for gifts movie ticket

There are so many ways you can make your own Christmas advent calendar but what I've chosen to do this year is incorporate the calendar into how I decorate the house for Christmas.

We have used a wicker wreath and then made handbag cotton drawstring bags for the 25 advent days and sewed numbers onto them. Then I fill them each with different gifts for the kids. Rather than the usual chocolate or sweet-treat surprises, I have tried to opt for more meaningful, imaginative and magical things this year.

If you don't have time to make drawstring bags or can't find them in your local craft or art shop, other options for creating your DIY advent calendars include using brown paper bags and ribbon or simply wrapping things and numbering them. The brown paper bag one looks really effective and pretty when you hang the bags along a piece of string with pegs (much like you would hang cards up) - and you can decorate the bags with number stickers or even get the kids involved to help decorate them by painting the numbers on.DIY advent wreath calendar wreath and drawstrings bag to house gifts

Some DIY advent calendar gift ideas include

  • Set your little one the task of choosing a present and wrapping it up and take it to one of the giving trees at Target or a supermarket and leave it there for someone in need.
  • Supplies for your little to make a card or something else crafty for someone in their life they are grateful for.
  • Movie tickets that give the gift of your time to your child for a special day out just the two of you - or for the entire family
  • Christmas PJs, as we like to get festive before Christmas Day 
  • Christmas activities to do in the lead up to the big day
  • A Christmas story book
DIY Christmas advent calendar with drawstrings bag with ballet dancer Christmas ornament

Downloadable DIY Christmas advent calendar

Want to download the Willow Swim DIY Christmas advent calendar kit? Just follow this link where you can download and print off a PDF of the Christmas advent calendar you see in these pictures.


Downloadable DIY Festive Bingo Game

Looking for a festive way to get the kids in the spirit of the magic of Christmas in the lead up to December 25 (or a crafty way to keep them busy on the day)? Look no further than our Downloadable DIY Festive Bingo Game.

Downloadable DIY Christmas bingo game
Little girl playing DIY festive bingo downloadable game wearing Willow Swim floral kids swimwear