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75+ Ideas for Advent Calendar Gifts, Fillers and Activities

by - Wednesday, November 20, 2019

It's almost December 1st which means, if you plan to create a DIY Advent Calendar or Christmas Countdown Calendar for your family for the holiday season, now is the time to do so! The holidays always go by way too fast and having an Advent calendar ensures you make the most out of every day. It's a fun way to feel that Christmas magic and guarantees you get to spend more time together.

But a whole month of activity can feel daunting to plan so today I'm sharing 75+ ideas for Advent calendar gifts, fillers, and activities. With these in your back pocket, you'll feel prepared to deliver on all the daily surprises for your loved ones.

Note: affiliate links have been used in this post for shopping convenience.

Types of Advent Calendars:

There are many cute and adorable ways to countdown to Christmas Day. From sweet paper houses with little doors to open, to simple tags with handwritten messages strung up on the Christmas tree,  you can be very creative with your homemade Advent calendar display. 

If you want to keep it super easy, opt for mini envelopes, numbered with a note tucked inside, or buy a pre-made Advent calendar kit. Whatever format you choose, it's a great idea to create a Christmas Advent calendar that you can reuse year after year. You will enjoy the tradition of seeing the Advent calendar each season. 

2021 Advent Calendars

And if you're not the crafty or DIY type, you can always use pre-assembled Advent calendars which have gifts ready to go for every day. Here's my favourites for the 2021 Christmas season:

I've been making an Advent calendar for my daughter Chloe since she was 2 years old and it's our favourite way to make the most of the festive season. This year, I'll continue to use our Advent calendar made from small cotton bags

ideas for advent calendar gifts, advent calendar fillers, advent activity ideas, advent activities for families
Our 2018 Advent calendar. See more of the craft room HERE.

No matter what your calendar looks like though, you'll need to put something inside it. What do you put in an Advent calendar? My favourite kinds are ones that have an Advent activity for the family to enjoy together plus little gifts. 

There's lots of gift ideas for filling Advent calendars below - remember, you only need 24 to get to the big day! As a bonus, I've included some FREE downloads too to save you time and effort in putting together your own Advent Calendar so sign up for those at the end of this post!

ideas for advent calendar gifts, advent calendar fillers, advent activity ideas, advent activities for families

Advent Calendar Activities for Families:

For our Advent calendar ideas, I like to assign a task or activity each day. Assigning daily activities is a great way to ensure you spend time together as a family and get out and do things (despite the wintry weather!). But before you create your list of Advent calendar activities, here's a few tips:
  • Look at what you already have scheduled for the month of December. Are you going to watch The Nutcracker, visit a tree farm with a family member, or watch a school play? Assign those activities for those dates - just don't tell the kids beforehand and it will still be a surprise ;)
  • Be aware of which days are weekends and which are weeknights. Weeknights tend to be busy so you might want to avoid assigning a time-consuming activity like "watch a Christmas movie" for those nights
  • Think about gifts you were already planning to give, such as Christmas pajamas, hot chocolate mixes, or the Twas the Night Before Christmas book. Could you incorporate those gifts into the daily activities somehow? One gift I give each year to my daughter is a Lego Advent Calendar. Now, I assign it as the first Advent activity "Open a Gift!". It's a tradition she looks forward to.
If you're in need of activities, here's 48 Advent Calendar Activity ideas that you can use in your calendar. There are 24 days to plan for so I've tried to include a balance of short and quick activities to longer ones that you can enjoy over an afternoon or a few hours. From outdoor winter fun to indoor activities and simple kind tasks, these are activities both kids and adults will enjoy.

ideas for advent calendar gifts, advent calendar fillers, advent activity ideas, advent activities for families

ideas for advent calendar gifts, advent calendar fillers, advent activity ideas, advent activities for families
Christmas activities are just one part of the Advent calendar. You can include a "filler" - a small gift or treat - inside the day's package too. 

Advent Calendar Gifts and Filler Ideas:

Advent calendar fillers don't need to be expensive or elaborate - it really is the thought that counts! But you can heighten the surprise by incorporating a variety of gifts that are cute, funny, or unique. You can certainly buy gifts but consider bringing a personal touch and make your own DIY Advent calendar gifts and special treats. You can shop for fillers at craft stores, dollar stores, toy stores, and even the grocery store.

Don't feel pressured to include a physical gift every single day. I look at the daily activity as the "main" item and any gift or treat is a bonus. I include only 5-6 gifts in my calendar and most of the gifts relate to the day's activity. 

For example, if the day's activity is "make a craft", I might include dollar store art supplies as the gift. But sometimes, the gift is unrelated and is purely just for fun (side note: Chocolate is ALWAYS appreciated, lol!). If you are intent on giving small items every day though (and want to keep it budget friendly), consider "splitting up" a gift and spread it out over several days. Perhaps you gift a box set of books and there's one book each day.

Here's 30+ Advent calendar gifts ideas and fillers. These are great Advent gift ideas for kids but older kids and adults will enjoy most of these as well:

  1. Individually wrapped chocolate or assorted candy
  2. A holiday joke
  3. A Christmas ornament to hang on the tree
  4. Gingerbread house kit (edible, cutters, toy, or craft variety)
  5. Handwritten poem, love note, or quote
  6. Beauty products like Lip balm or hand sanitizer (holiday scents are fun!)
  7. Hair accessories, hair clips or hairbrush (we love this 'no tangles' hairbrush)
  8. Homemade coupon for something fun like "Stay up 20 mins late". Check out this post for more coupon ideas
  9. Non-toxic peelable nail polish
  10. Handmade drawing or doodle
  11. Christmas craft kit
  12. Silly bandz, Rainbow looms, or beading kits
  13. Art brushes or canvases
  14. Puzzle erasers
  15. Crayons or pencil crayons
  16. Bath bombs or bath toys
  17. Temporary tattoos
  18. Journal or sketch book
  19. Family picture or photo album
  20. Keychain
  21. Fun socks
  22. Novelty game or puzzle
  23. A book 
  24. Fun school supplies
  25. Washi tape
  26. Kid's apron
  27. Christmas pajamas
  28. Mini flashlight
  29. Playing cards
  30. Cookie cutters
  31. Stickers
  32. Glow sticks
  33. Money
ideas for advent calendar gifts, advent calendar fillers, advent activity ideas, advent activities for families
One year I strung the Advent bags on a mitten garland with numbered tags

With these activity ideas and Advent calendar gift ideas, you'll be all set for December. But just in case you're strapped for time, I've put together some FREE Advent Calendar Printables to help you put your own Christmas countdown together in no time.

Sign up below to receive:

  • A PDF of the 48 Advent calendar activities. Just print, cut on the lines, and assign one task for each day
  • Printable modern number tags
  • Printable iron-on bag numbers. Use these files to print on t-shirt transfer paper and then iron on to small 4"x6" cotton bags. Note: the images print out reversed. See this post for a similar process.

Download your FREE Advent Calendar Printables

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    I hope you feel encouraged to enjoy each and every day this holiday season. These small moments, when we spend time with those we love, are really what we will remember and hold on to.


    For more Christmas fun ideas, please check out these posts:

    How to Make a Grinchmas Tree

    Cricut 3D Gingham Tree Ornament

    DIY Hand Warmers

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