12 days of Christmas family advent calendar

This Christmas shake up the kids' routine of getting present after present by making this fun family advent calendar filled with activities. 

Christmas can easily be misconstrued by little people as a time of receiving. They receive gifts from so many loved ones and probably don’t give much in return. This is fine when the kids are young, but as they start to get older and understand more, the act of receiving should start to be levelled with giving.

So this Christmas, rather than buying another meaningless chocolate-filled advent calendar, why not make a fun advent calendar that has a focus on family activities as well as giving. 

I’ve created a simple 12 Days of Christmas Family Advent Calendar which you can create at home with a few basic supplies. It comes complete with a list of printable advent activities which you can arrange into which ever days will suit your family best.

Advent calendar


  • 12 x paper envelopes
  • printed activity sheet
  • number stamps
  • a variety of craft papers including coloured origami paper, coloured tissue paper, glitter paper, patterned paper
  • coloured markers or pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • string
  • washi tape


I decided to go with a paper snowflake theme to decorate the front of my envelopes. Look up paper snowflakes online to find many different examples and templates for making all kinds of snowflakes. I find that the best paper to work with is thin paper such as tissue paper or origami paper. Of course, you can choose to decorate the envelopes however you like instead choosing to get the kids to colour in or draw on each of the envelopes. You could even decorate empty matchboxes instead of envelopes.

Stamp the numbers 1 - 12 on each envelope flap - one for each day of the 12 day advent calendar. Cut out each of the 12 activities and decide which day you would like to do those activities, before inserting them into each envelope. Now attach three rows of string to the wall with washi tape at each end. Use some miniature wooden pegs to hold each envelope on the string. I placed four envelopes on each piece of string to ensure it wasn’t too heavy for the washi tape.

Below is a list of the activities included on the printable activity sheet. Of course you could create your own if these don’t suit you.


Drive around and see the neighbourhood Christmas lights. Not much explanation required here. There are some fantastic online resources which will help you locate the best lights on display near you.

Gift wrapping championships. Who can wrap the fastest? Each participant receives a similar sized box to wrap along with a roll of wrapping paper - this could just be newspaper so that you’re not actually wasting the good stuff - scissors and sticky tape. Alternately if you don’t have enough pairs of scissors and tape to go around, you could individually time each person. 

Classic Christmas movie night. Get everyone excited by letting them choose a snack to bring along. This one is a no technology allowed movie to ensure everyone gets the full experience.

A new Christmas story book to read tonight. We have a growing collection of Christmas stories at our house and each year I try to find another one, either brand new or from an op shop, to add to it. It’s a great way to encourage reading.

Let’s bake and decorate some Christmas cookies! Who doesn’t love the smell of Christmas. It’s such a delicious and festive smell when there are gingerbread cookies in the oven. Find a gingerbread or Christmas cookie recipe online if you don’t already have a go-to recipe. IF the kids are old enough, let them help or even make the entire batch of cookies. Then decorate them together.

Go shopping for a Christmas gift (for a child less fortunate). This is a great one to actually help the kids understand that not all kids are as lucky as them. Most kids get the warm fuzzes when they’ve been an active part in selecting a gift for another child who might not have otherwise received one.

Make a decoration for the Christmas tree. With the simple addition of a few sheets of felt cut to fit the envelope along with some big sewing needles and thread will ensure everyone can get straight into crafting their very own Christmas ornament. There’s plenty of inspiration to be had on Pinterest.

Donate some of your unwanted toys or clothing to a local charity op shop. Another great activity to help solidify the “giving” part of this advent calendar - and a fantastic opportunity to clear out some unwanted possessions masked in the form of giving.

Craft a Christmas Village. Help the kids to make a Christmas village complete with a gingerbread house using recycled materials. They can glue, paint, collage, bedazzle their village and use cotton wool balls to make “snow”.

Let’s make a gingerbread house. A traditional Christmas activity, the baking could be left up to the parents with the decorating being the fun part for the kids to do.

Make some Christmas snowflakes. The traditional art of paper cutting is such a great activity to help with fine motor skills. Of course if the kids are too little to be wielding scissors, you can get them to help unfold the paper snowflake once it’s been snipped. Again, there’s plenty of inspiration and templates available online.

Let’s make a collage of our family. All you need for this one is a photo of each person along with some old magazines that you can use for cutting clothing and outfits out of. Each family member crafts a paper version of themselves wearing silly Christmas outfits and those fantastic Christmas jumpers if you can find some! Stick it all down on a piece of paper and pop it in a frame.

Back to top