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How to Create an Awesome DIY Advent Calendar (with FREE printables!)

Snag our free Advent calendar printables and put together this easy-to-make DIY advent calendar to countdown the days until Christmas!

Free Printable Advent Calendar

It’s the first Christmas post of the year! I just couldn’t wait any longer! By some standards, I’m early– Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet.

By blogging standards, I’m kind of late! I’ve seen bloggers posting Christmas ideas for weeks now! This isn’t just any Christmas post, though. It is definitely one of my favorite Christmas posts of the year.

The 5 Key Elements of an Awesome DIY Advent Calendar

See, every year I make an Advent calendar for my boys. It’s my not-so-subtle way of trying to get them to focus on preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, rather than just the inundation of toys that they always look forward to. 🙂

I started out just buying an Advent calendar from the store, but then one year I couldn’t find any that I liked, so I made one. Well, after that there was no turning back– it has kind of become a fun challenge to think up something new and different every year!

But though I may use different materials each year, I quickly figured out that the elements of an awesome DIY Advent calendar are pretty much the same. Here’s the list I use when I begin to think up ideas for the Cs’ latest Advent calendar…

small boxes, twine, candy, scripture printout, numbers, and a bin - showing all of the things you will need to make a homemade advent calendar

1. Vessels

I start with 25 small vessels. These can be little boxes or bags or pails or whatever you can find that’s tiny and holds stuff.

2. Embellishments

Then, because I’m crazy and can’t leave anything alone, I add embellishments – washi tape, twine, stickers, glitter, modge podge, drawings– the sky is the limit! The kids can even help with this part! I then decide what to put in my newly decorated little vessels

3. Contents

I always add a verse from the Christmas story in the Bible and a little treat for the boys. But you could also add an act of kindness, a fun activity, a little ornament, an encouraging note to your kids, etc.

4. Numbers

I number the containers, either with stickers or numbers I’ve printed from the computer or handwritten.

5. Display

And finally, I have to have a way to display the calendar. This could be as simple as setting all of the items on a special shelf. I have also done a clothesline, used a cork board, and used a little tub. With this formula, creating your own Advent calendar is SO simple, and it can even be a fun activity that the whole family can do together.

How to Make a Homemade Advent Calendar

List contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

So this year, with my checklist in mind, I headed off to the craft store and roamed the aisles until I decided on my pieces.

Advent Calendar Supply List

Here’s what I ended up using:

Putting the Advent calendar together was oh-so-easy!

1. Decorate the boxes for your DIY Advent calendar.

I started with my mini take out boxes and used washi tape to make them a little prettier. This took a little time, but it is a great mindless activity to do while you’re watching TV or hanging out with the family. (And when everyone helps it goes faster too!)

Mini Takeout Boxes Decorated with Washi Tape for a DIY Advent Calendar

2. Add the treats and scripture.

I then stuffed each box with 2 chocolate Kisses (one for each of my kids) and the day’s verse card.

Mini Takeout Boxes with Hershey Kisses and Bible Verse Cards for a DIY Advent Calendar

If you’d like to add scripture verses to your Advent calendar, you can download the cards we used by clicking the button below.

Advent Calendar Scripture Verse Cards

3. Attach the numbers.

Next I wrapped up the boxes with baker’s twine, using the twine to attach the number.

Mini Takeout Boxes Wrapped in Baker's Twine and Numbered for a DIY Advent Calendar

Again, if you’d like to snag the same numbers we used for our Advent calendar, just click the button below to download them!

Once the numbers were attached, I just had to put all of the boxes in my little tub, and I was done!

Our finished advent calendar in a tub next to a Christmas pillow

(Tip: My tub was a little too deep, so I padded the bottom with some crumpled up plastic shopping bags to help the boxes to sit up a little higher– easy fix!)

noel pillow sitting next to the tub with the advent boxes in it

It really is so easy to make your own DIY Advent calendar, and truly, the sky is the limit with combinations and possibilities of materials!

This is such a fun activity to do with little kids and older kids alike. (My kids were 11 and 13 this past Christmas, and they STILL both asked to make sure I would be doing an Advent calendar for them! They love it!)

I hope these printables and ideas will help you create the perfect DIY Advent Calendar to prepare for the Christmas season this year. Merry Christmas!

Advent Calendars: Frequently Asked Questions

While there is no right or wrong way, we start with 1 being opened on December 1st. We also put scriptures in each box that tells the Christmas story, so by December 25th we have read the entire story.

An Advent calendar should have either 24 or 25 doors/boxes so that the calendar ends on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

DIY Advent Calendar with Free Printables

What Advent traditions do you have at your house? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Thanks so much for following along! Have a wonderful day!

Abby Lawson, Just a Girl and Her Blog

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. favoredmom says:

    Wow what a fun idea!! :):) I’ll be pinning for sure! ; ) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this look! Thank you for sharing your great ideas and fun projects. Pinning this!

  3. Karen @ a house full of sunshine says:

    Sooooo cute!!! 🙂 xo

  4. Stephanie Rivera says:

    Thank you for this great idea. I will be printing and trying out this project. 🙂

  5. amandamtex says:

    Awesome idea! We’re currently making ornaments for a Jesse tree (a walk through of salvation history using ornaments and bible stories) but I had also wanted to do an Advent calendar, so thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Great Idea!! I pulled out my advent brown bags that I use every year and even though it’s the same decoration, every year is different – we have a nativity scene with 21 pieces that I distribute differently between the bags every year and then throughout the season, we take time each day to set up the nativity 🙂 And 3 bags are left over to add in a little treat for each of my 3 kids 🙂

  7. Wonderful! Your collection of Bible verses are just in time for my wall Advent ‘Calendar’ It’s only a slight wire frame and needed something light-weight, so these will do just the trick 🙂 BTW- I love your blog and the printables- thanks for all the lovely work you’re doing. Blessings!

  8. Jess @ Make and Do Crew says:

    What a cute advent calendar. I like your idea of wrapping something besides candy. I just posted a tutorial for my DIY Pottery Barn knockoff advent calendar.It was so fun to make!

  9. Love this so much, I’m doing it! Such a great idea – thanks for the printables, I think Peighton is at the perfect age to begin this! xoxo

  10. Lovely Decor (@lb_lovelydecor) says:

    That’s a great advent calendar!! I love it 🙂 Such a fun and cute idea to do with the family.

    We usually do Lindor advent calendars as that’s my favorite type of chocolate, but as of last year I found David’s Tea has one and my fiancé and I have been doing that (although he sticks with the chocolate)! So fun, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without an advent calendar (I’m a sucker for tradition).

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

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