I always have grand plans of a well organized handmade advent calendar. My plans are not elaborate or over the top and I don’t lack the skills to create one, yet every year I find myself realizing suddenly that its too late. The autumn has been quietly slipping past me in the busyness of school, costumes and menu planning. So I find myself wishing I had found the time to create an advent calendar and I think oh well next year…
THIS year I am making it happen…It won’t be the cute little Christmas tree I had envisioned with paper ornaments containing activities and that’s OK. I know I can’t be the only mama (or papa) in this boat so I thought I would share a few really simple (read 10 minutes or less to put together) advent calendars.
Super Simple Last Minute Advent Calendars.
You can start these any day before Christmas – do a countdown after the kids get out of school, or for the days until you leave on your vacation – it’s doesn’t have to start December 1st.
My secret weapon for four of these options: activities printed on colored paper. I used some of the activity cards included in Keeping Christmas Cozy but of course you can write your own. I do have a printer but I lacked colored paper so I sent it to a local office supply store for printing and used their paper cutter while I was there. This took me about 5 minutes and cost less than a dollar.
- A bowl on the table– use only activities you know you can pull off no matter when they get drawn such as read a holiday story, a joke to tell or a conversation prompt.
- Use paper or plastic cups with numbers written in sharpie (See how Red Ted Art makes this advent calendar so cute here.) You can line them up on a bookshelf or window sill, on top of the mantle or entertainment center.
- Hide each days advent activity in a new location around the house and play the hot and cold game until someone finds its, this one is great because you can pick and choose each days activity to fit your day without advanced planning, My husbands schedule is really unpredictable right now, so if I find out at the last minute that he’ll be home at a reasonable hour I can include him or use an activity such as go look at christmas lights
- Christmas Book Countdown – Get out your holiday books and put them in a basket. Read one a day until Christmas. If you’d like to wrap them, that can be fun, but snuggling in to read a story each day will make great memories even if the book isn’t wrapped. One year we did this book “countdown” and I simply kept a few gift bags around and stuck a Christmas book into the bag each day for the kids to get out.
- Make our DIY Clothespin Advent Calendar – You don’t even have to glue on the numbers. You could take red and green pens and write the numbers on the clothespins.
And if a last minute “advent calendar” isn’t doable for whatever reason you can always keep a list of Christmas ideas and conversation starters handy and pick one to do from time to time throughout the month. There is no rule that says you can’t enjoy advent activities unless you do all 24 🙂
Remember the magic of Christmas isn’t about in doing every activity or getting things just right, its about genuinely connecting and letting the little moments count. We want you to have a holiday season that keeps you connected to your kids.
If you’d like simple activities along with weekly inspiration during December that will help you keep Christmas cozy, connected and low stress make sure you take a look at the Keeping Christmas Cozy Printable Packet and Email Set . Get your download here:
Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.