The holidays are my favorite time of the year because it means spending more time with the people that matter most in my life.
It’s definitely a joyful time of year. Still, it can also be very hectic (especially as a parent — am I right?!). That’s why I LOVE advent calendars. Each day, they remind me to take a moment to pause and take in the moment. Plus, I’ve created 25 days of family activities in advance, so I’m basically a supermom now.
I’ve come up with a giant list of advent calendar ideas to choose from, and I thought I’d share the wealth! I included ideas for babies, kids, tweens and teens, adults and partners, and for the whole family! Scroll to the section that's relevant for you!
The best part is that advent calendars aren’t just for Christmas (Jewish Mom here 🙋🏻). You can use them for any holiday and at any time of year. They’re a fun and thoughtful way to bring your whole family together, and there are so many different kinds to choose from.
25 Days of Qeepsake Giveaway
Qeepsake has collaborated with talented digital artist MadiLovesKiwi to create a beautiful Advent Calendar for her shop! As you open each day of the Advent calendar, there’s a sweet surprise waiting for you.
The best part is, if you use Qeepsake to capture your daily advent adventures for 25 days in a row, you’ll be entered to win a giveaway. Enter to win a free year of Qeepsake Premium, a $50 book voucher, and a refund on your advent calendar from MadiLovesKiwi! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter.
Use this list as inspiration. Mix and match ideas. Take what excites you and ditch what doesn’t.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Babies
Even the teeniest members of your family can enjoy an advent calendar. It’s so fun to watch the newest member of your family enjoy their very first holidays. Here are some advent calendar gift and activity ideas for your sweet bundle of joy.
Ideas for Holiday Activities for Babies
- Sing songs
You can use this activity for multiple days. Start with a piece of paper and divide it into sections. Put a song you love to sing to your little one in each section, cut out each song, and tuck them into your advent calendar. Older babies can even help open and pull out the note!
Get festive with your little one and sing Christmas carols, Chanukah prayers, Diwali songs, or Kwanzaa blessings. Choose lullabies or your favorite melodies (my kids know Bob Marley by heart). No need to worry about singing off-key. Your voice is the sweetest sound to your baby, and they’re still too little to judge.
- DIY foot and handprint gifts
Your baby’s tiny feet will never be this small again. As an activity, create ornaments or holiday cards with their adorable foot and handprints. They make great gifts for grandparents and other close relatives. What better way to be reminded of this precious stage of baby’s life?
- Craft baby’s first stocking, dreidel, or other holiday keepsake
Have fun choosing your baby’s very first Christmas stocking. If you’re crafty, there are so many different patterns you can make yourself from Etsy, Pinterest, and even YouTube! If you’re not the DIY type, there are so many buying to suit your family’s personal style.
- Create a floral garland for baby’s first Diwali
Decorate your baby’s nursery with colorful floral garlands for their first Diwali. Baby will LOVE the bright colors, and a little bit of nature goes a long way for happiness.
If you want the floral garlands to last longer, you can always purchase faux flowers at your local craft store.
Don’t forget to take daily pictures to add to your Qeepsake baby book and digital journal. There’s nothing better than looking back on all the firsts!
Ideas for Holiday Gifts for Babies
- Teething toy
Baby’s gotta teethe! Soothe those sore gums with a cute, holiday-themed teething toy you can tuck safely into your advent calendar.
- Cozy wear
Keep your little one warm with a cute new pair of mittens or a new beanie. Your little cutie will be both warm and stylish. You can find holiday-themed ones to keep things festive. If they’re too big to fit into your advent calendar (although babies do have teeny tiny hands), put in a small note or picture!
- Finger puppets
Finger puppet shows are a great way to keep your baby entertained. They’re incredible for eliciting those sweet little giggles we all live for. And they’re sized perfectly for small advent calendars!
- Baby’s first Hanukkah gift set
Gift your baby with an interactive, plush Hanukkah gift set. Fill each day with a different small plush gift, including a musical dreidel, menorah, and candles. This way, your baby can safely “light” their first menorah.
- Something for you
Gift yourself something special from baby, and involve them in the advent unwrapping. You deserve it.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Toddlers
It’s an absolute joy to witness the magic of the holidays through your toddler’s eyes. You can see the wonder and awe each time they experience something new and special.
Ideas for Holiday Activities for Toddlers
- Read holiday books
Read books to your toddlers with Christmas or holiday themes. Picture books and books with textures are wonderful options for this age. Print a picture of the book cover or write a little note with the book title to place inside the calendar.
- Color holiday-themed coloring books together
Watch your toddler’s inner artist come out with crayons and holiday-themed coloring books.
- Visit Santa
Bring your toddlers to visit Santa. As a toddler, there’s nothing quite like the excitement of meeting Santa. Don’t forget to add pictures and the inevitably hilarious story to your Qeepsake Journal.
- Plan a day or evening of favorites
Your toddler gets a full day (or evening) of doing their absolute favorite things with you. In my house, this would be some combination of snacks, swings, and watching the Blippi Raspberry episode on repeat.
- Share favorite holiday stories or traditions
Revisit memory lane as you share your favorite holiday memories from your childhood. Share stories and traditions. Let them know what some of Mama & Daddy’s first Christmas gifts were.
This activity could last many days! Try including questions for the parents to answer on notes tucked into the advent calendar.
Ideas for Holiday Gifts for Toddlers
Place one puzzle piece into the advent calendar, and gift them the rest of the puzzle after they open it up. Better yet, find a 25 piece puzzle, and gift your toddler one piece per day. At the end of the 25 days, they’ll enjoy the magic of a completed puzzle and the daily moments spent with you creating it.
Place a key to a playhouse or dollhouse inside the advent calendar.
- Play furniture
Dollhouse furniture is super cute inside of an advent calendar. Complete your dollhouse slowly with a different and exciting new item each night.
- Hot chocolate bomb
Put a wrapped hot cocoa bomb in your little one’s advent calendar, and watch the swirls of chocolate and milk blow their little mind! Yummy!
Advent Calendar Ideas for Kids
Holidays are endlessly exciting for kids. Here are some ways you can create the memories they’ll never forget.
Ideas for Holiday Activities for Kids
- Have a movie night
Have a relaxing movie night with the kiddos. Let this be the night they get to choose the movie.
- Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are endless fun for kiddos. Creating riddles and hiding things can be just as entertaining as watching your children look for the items. Make the scavenger hunt festive by hiding holiday-themed items.
- Decorate holiday cookies
Get an assortment of holiday-shaped cookie cutters. There are so many fun shapes available, from candy canes and reindeer to elephants and menorahs. Bake cookies together and then have fun decorating them with different colored frosting and toppings.
- Make play-doh gingerbread people, Maccabees, and any other fun shapes
Creative, fun, and doesn’t make a giant mess.
Pro-tip, make a tiny hole in the top of your finished design, and leave it out to harden. Voila! Your little one made a gingerbread ornament for your tree or window decoration.
- Print out Christmas gift clipart
Print out Christmas gift clipart to use as decorations throughout your home. Try folding them and placing them in your advent calendar.
Have your kiddos cut out the clipart and laminate them to make them more durable. Then your kids can hang them and help decorate your home. They’re perfect for clinging to windows!
- Make Star of David crafts
For Hanukkah, Star of David crafts make lovely decorations for your home. They are super easy to make with popsicle sticks. Paint them blue and create two triangle shapes using this guide.
- Create Rangoli crafts for Diwali
There are so many beautiful Rangoli designs. You can print them out for your kids to color or create patterns using construction paper or paper plates. Here are some designs you can print out.
Ideas for Holiday Gifts for Kids
- Classic Hershey’s Kisses
This may seem basic, but there’s nothing like opening an advent calendar and seeing a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate kiss inside.
- Fidget toys
Give multiple different types of fidget toys and keep your kiddo happy for days. Kids LOVE fidget toys. From pop-it toys to fidget spinners, the options are fun and unlimited!
- Small stuffed animals
Gift your little one miniature stuffed animals or squishy toys for a new cuddly friend.
Similar to the puzzle idea for toddlers above, place one LEGO in each advent calendar triangle, and help your kiddo build a cool set!
- Bouncy balls
Super bouncy balls make unique advent calendar gifts. Find different colors, light-up balls, and balls with different bounce abilities.
Don’t ask me what it is about erasers, but kids just love them! They come in all different shapes and colors, so go nuts!
Advent Calendar Ideas for Teens & Tweens
This can be a tricky age to keep kids interested in family activities. Here are some fun ideas that should help keep teens and tweens somewhat engaged in holiday fun.
Ideas for Holiday Activities for Teens
- Play holiday-themed cornhole
Keep it interesting with chocolate gelt or other types of prizes.
- Play board games
Make it teen choice. Family game night is the BEST. This is a perfect activity to keep everyone together and laughing.
- Make a gingerbread house
Turning this into a competition between family members can increase the stakes. Consider offering a prize to whoever creates the best gingerbread house.
- Have a dance party with holiday music
Turn down the lights and let loose! Make a playlist of all the best holiday music to dance to. Don’t forget to add classics like Jingle Bell Rock and The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler.
- Teen’s choice holiday movie night
It’s their turn to pick the movie and snack!
- Wrap presents for kids in need
Foster generosity in your teens and tweens by working together on wrapping gifts for families in need.
Ideas for Holiday Gifts for Teens
Don’t underestimate how tricky yoyos can be. Give your teen a yoyo in their advent calendar and challenge them to learn some tricks.
- Scrabble pieces
Add Scrabble letters each day, and challenge your teen to come up with as many words as possible using the Scrabble letters each week. For the last day, gift them a special Scrabble set.
- Favorite candy
Add a different variety of their favorite candy each day, and surprise your teen with all the different flavors.
If you have a teen who is into makeup and beauty, fill your advent calendar with mini lip glosses, eye shadows, and tiny nail polishes!
- Gift cards
Surprise your teen with a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Adults & Partners
Advent calendars should be enjoyed by family members of all ages. It’s fun to include a little something special for yourself or a spouse.
Ideas for Holiday Activities for Adults
- Make spiked hot cocoa
Put your to-do list aside for a moment. Take some time to relax by pouring a little booze in your hot cocoa. Decompress and slip away from any holiday stress. You deserve the delicious break.
- Plan a Secret Santa
With your family, friends, or co-workers, host a Secret Santa (Kris Kringle or Chanukah Harry works well if Santa isn’t your thing). You can make the experience more exciting with a theme like “things you never knew you’d need to survive a quarantine” or “on Wednesdays, we wear pink.”
- IOU Notes
Sprinkle in love notes and IOU notes into the advent calendar. We’ve done some of this work for you with the inside of Qeepsake Advent Calendars 😉
These make for fantastic Valentine’s Day Advent Calendars.
Here are some IOU note ideas:
- Back massage
- Day to sleep in
- Breakfast in bed
- Night out
- Movie of your choice
Ideas for Holiday Gifts for Adults
- Gourmet chocolates
Gourmet chocolates make great advent calendar gifts, especially for those with a sweet tooth. It’s a decadent treat that chocolate lovers are sure to enjoy.
- Restaurant gift cards
You can’t go wrong with a gift card to a favorite restaurant. Who doesn’t like to take a break from cooking and dine out once in a while?
- Happy holidays gift cards
Gift cards to a favorite shop make excellent presents. This allows the recipient to pick out exactly what they want. It’s a wonderful solution for someone difficult to shop for. Consider supporting a local small business with gift cards.
- Gifts based on favorite TV shows or movies
Pick out gifts based on someone’s favorite tv series. The Office Christmas gifts, for instance, make fun and hilarious gifts for someone who loves binge-watching The Office. From Dunder Mifflin mugs to Dwight bobbleheads.
Star Wars gifts always go over very well in my house.
Tea is a perfect advent calendar stuffer. Put a different variety of tea in each day. Yum!
- Reusable straw
Save the environment and elevate your morning iced coffee or tea with a collapsible, reusable straw in a color and design you love.
Advent Calendar Ideas for Families
Spending time with those that matter most is what the holidays are all about. It’s the perfect time to create meaningful memories with your family. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of this season with your loved ones.
- Bake cookies for the neighbors
Baking is a fun interactive activity to do with the entire family. It’s a great way to practice generosity and brighten your neighbor’s day. And go ahead, make extra cookies to keep at home while you’re at it. Everybody wins!
- Watch a holiday movie
Snuggle up with your family and watch your favorite holiday movie. Break out the blankets and warm fuzzy socks. Prepare a hot beverage to sip on, like hot cocoa, apple cider, or eggnog.
- Build a blanket fort
Building blanket forts are fun for every age — little kids and big kids. Yep, that includes the adults too. Giggles for days.
- Take a drive to see holiday lights and decorations
Hop in your car and drive around with your family to see the best holiday lights and decorations. Play some holiday tunes to sing along to. This is a surefire way to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
- Have breakfast for dinner
There are so many delicious breakfast for dinner options. Whip up some eggs and bacon for something savory, or opt for a sweet breakfast with waffles, pancakes, or french toast. Can’t decide? Choose a variety of savory and sweet. There are no rules!
Let each family member choose and prepare a different item.
- Buy and wear matching family pajamas
You may not want to go out in public matching your family from head to toe, but it’s totally cool to do at home (let’s be real, it’s totally cool to do this out and about too). Shopping for a pair of matching pj’s together can be a fun bonding activity. Plus, matching family PJs make for excellent holiday photos. Don’t forget to send them into Qeepsake!
- Write letters together
Who doesn’t love snail mail? Write letters together as a family. The younger ones can write letters to Santa, and everyone else can choose a relative to write to. Nothing quite warms the heart like receiving a handwritten note in the mail.
- Create holiday crafts for your home
There are countless creative holiday crafts to be found online. Many of them are easy to execute with everyday materials. For example, you can cut snowflakes using white paper to place on your windows or create beautiful paper or flower garlands.
- Make holiday cards for the troops abroad
Honor the troops that sacrifice so much to keep us safe. Let your creativity flow and make holiday cards for them. It’s a great way to send some holiday cheer.
- Give back
The holidays are also a great season to remember those who are in need. Doing so can also remind us to be grateful for the things we sometimes take for granted. Here are some ways you can give back:
- Donate food to a local food bank or volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Donate coats and blankets to a shelter
- Join a 5K or turkey-trot for a good cause
- Visit the elderly in nursing homes (if COVID constraints, send flowers instead)
- Bring lunch or provide snacks to those working hard on the holidays, such as mail carriers, retail workers, and supermarket cashiers.
- Write holiday cards to sick children.
- Go ice skating.
Ice skating is an exciting and fun activity to do around the holidays for all ages. Plus, it doubles as a form of exercise.
- Choose one gift to open early
Gather your family and sit around the gifts. Have each family choose one gift they can open before the big day.
This is especially fun for Christmas Eve gifts because it can build anticipation and joy for Christmas morning. Especially if your little ones spend the whole season starting at their gifts under the Christmas tree!
Feel Like a Super Parent for the Holidays
I hope this list helps you and your family create the best memories this holiday season so you can feel like a Super Parent, too. Oh, and don’t forget to snag your special edition Qeepsake Advent Calendar from MadiLovesKiwi. I’ve already started using mine to lead up to Hanukkah, and it’s a hit!
As you're creating memories with your advent calendar, adding photos and stories to Qeepsake through text message and the Qeepsake App is effortless. Imagine being able to look back at all the memories you’ll create with a beautiful Qeepsake Book. Once you fill in your 25 days of Qeepsake, don’t forget to email email@example.com. You’ll be entered to win a year of Qeepsake Premium, a $50 book voucher, and a refunded Qeepsake Advent Calendar!
Have questions? An amazing advent calendar idea? Let us know. We love hearing from you!