Countdown to Christmas: Simple, Fun & Easy to Organize Family Advent Activities

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by Robin

When I wasn't looking November slipped away!  Do you feel that way too?  I think I'll be staying up late on November 30th putting the finishing touches on my latest idea.  We're doing our countdown to Christmas a little differently and I couldn't be more excited!  

This year we're doing a daily family activity for our advent calendar.  I've got it all planned out (ok - I've got it mostly planned out).  Each day - instead of opening a little waxy chocolate in a perforated paper box - we're going to do a family activity.  I am excited to see how the kids take to this.  If things go how I expect they will be crazed with excitement.  The sort of thing that gets them excited for the day and jumping out of bed early (not too early I hope).

Each morning they will take turns opening the day's activity.  The beauty is, the activities are things we do every year anyway, but there will be that added excitement only anticipation and secrets can bring.

Here's how it's going to work...

christmas countdown activities

It had never even occurred to me to make a Christmas countdown filled with activities until I read this post from Simple Mom I love the easy, colourful way she displayed things.  But, it was Tsh's real, simple ideas and activities that drew me to this idea.  As soon as I read her post, I started my list for this year.

What Our Advent Calendar Will Look Like:

With how busy things are already, I don't have time to make something too complicated.  And, let's be honest, my kids couldn't care less about how it looks!  They'll have tunnel vision into the next activity - they won't give a rip if it's easy on the eyes.

I've decided to use the free printable from Amy at Living Locurto.  I'll use her little card templates and print our activities on them.  I'm going to use stickers to seal them from curious, peeking eyes.



As for how we'll display them, I'll tuck each paper into the pocket of the kids' Advent wall hanging.  A couple of years ago Ed's mom sent the kids a crafted Christmas wall hanging with 25 numbered pockets on it (similar to these).  She had filled it with little gifts for each day.  They, of course, loved it.  It will be great to be able to use this gift again!  (Now all I have to do is find it before the 1st...)

Our Activities:

Some of these activities will require no explanation, others are little traditions that only make sense to us. I'll try and explain where needed:

Oh - and #14 is GENIUS and the #21 is SO MUCH FUN!

1st - Decorate the Christmas Tree!

2nd - Drink hot cocoa, snuggle and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.

4th - Get together with family friends to play games.  (This is our current favourite!)

5th - St Nicholas Day – Let’s learn more about him!

6th - Music Show at Daddy’s Work

7th - Decorate our gingerbread house
  • We always buy sturdy, pre-assembled gingerbread houses. No one here has the patience to make one from scratch. And really, isn't the real fun in decorating with all the candies?

8th - Pop popcorn, cuddle and watch Elf

9th - Mini Christmas with Grandpa (He'll be away for Christmas, so we get to celebrate early with him.)

10th - Watch Rudolf and Frosty

11th - Make salt dough ornaments for the tree

12th - Watch one of the Muppet's Christmas movie (- this one's our favourite.)

13th - Go to the Farmer’s Parade of Lights!

14th - Shhh!  This morning let Mommy and Daddy sleep in.  Your cereal bowls are waiting for you in the kitchen.

15th - Write messages in the Oxfam Unwrapped cards for your teachers.

  • We like to give the kids' teachers a donation in their honour and a little treat for themselves.

16th - Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Let’s read the story at bedtime!

17th - Make reindeer cookies for the class

18th - Go with Daddy to get a gift for Mommy

19th - Go with Mommy to get a gift for Daddy

20th - Make wrapping paper!

21st - Sibling Super Spy Shopping Trip 

22nd - Perform a random act of kindness – don’t get caught!

23rd - Skype with Auntie, Unkie and Ryan to wish them a Merry Christmas!

24th - Open your Christmas Eve gift.  Track Santa on the NORAD satellite.

25th - Have a Merry Christmas!

Are you doing something special to countdown this year?

More of Our Christmas Ideas:


  1. What a great (and beautiful!) collection of resources! My mom bought me a wooden advent calendar from LL Bean when my kids were babies (and filled it!), and we've used that every year. I usually put a topic of conversation on a slip of paper in each box (along with some candy). Some days I do put an activity. Try to mix it up. :-) Our favorite is family appreciation days. Each person gets one day to be their appreciation day. Our conversation topic is for every one to share something they appreciate about that person. And that person gets a special little present. My kids still love that day. (At 14, they aren't as into it all as they once were...sigh.)

    1. I love the family appreciation days idea, Rita! I've got to figure out how to work that in!

  2. We're doing an advent activity calendar this year, inspired by Simple Mom, too. It's the first time we've done this and I may be as excited as the kids. It kinda paces the activities. Some years the 25th sneaks up and doesn't feel like christmas; this helps build the anticipation. As well it makes sure that you don't forget the moments that you want to have or things you like to do (like ready a favourite book or actually getting to the job of making gingerbread men). It's a like a to-do list, but with enforcers (the kiddos)!

    Enjoy your countdown!

    1. We start today! I think it's going to be fabulous. I do like the to-do list enforcing factor - there's things on our list that the kids will love, but I could easily put off until it was too late. The sure won't let me do that this year! Thanks for your comment!! :)

  3. Super Spy Shopping?! Oh my boys would LOVE this! I'm adding it to our Christmas Countdown.

    Thanks so much for the idea!
    Ashey @ 3littlegreenwoods

    1. It is my absolute favourite, Ashley! So much fun - your boys will love it. :)

  4. My 3 children's favourite family tradition is something we call "COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS".
    Each day leading up to Christmas I add a little burst of festive fun to our day, and it is so fun to watch their anticipation grow with each day's activity. The kids discover what's in store each day by finding a card I've hidden with the day's activity written on it. Although I have been doing this for years with my own kids, I now have a little blog www.simplyfunfamilies.com where I am sharing Countdown to Christmas as a Printable Card Set featuring our favourite activities and some tips and tricks that make it super easy to fit in all the fun... even for the busiest families. Take a peak and give it a try in your own family this holiday season! You'll find super quick bursts of fun, traditional Christmas activities, plus activities in a spirit of gratitude, charitable giving & even acts of kindness to offer family members.
    Read all about it at...


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