Create the best chocolate-free advent calendar

My friend, the very creative Wendy Copley, created a clever advent calendar for her children that has two big benefits over all other holiday countdown traditions:

  1. It focuses on experiences over stuff.
  2. She can change it according to her mood and available time.

Allow me to explain. She purchased a wooden advent calendar kinda like this one at Target and stuffed it with her own printable choose-your-own-adventure style of daily challenge. On any given day, she can update the mystery box with the activity she wants to do: Take a bubble bath or Decorate the Christmas tree? Hmmm, what do we have time for? Loving it!

wooden advent calendarAfter reading her post last night (one year late I realize, but I had a baby last year, people!), I drove to Target in a thunderstorm to assemble my own. And now I need new toner to make Wendy’s printables pretty. Then again, I doubt my kids will care if my ink colors are pale when they see we are going to drink the good hot chocolate or drive around to see Christmas lights.

See my print outs up top? Good enough, right? Here are Wendy’s printables in true color below. Hop on over to her post, advent crazy, to download the pages to make your own activity-based advent calendar.

advent printables


This year, we spotted this cardboard Santa advent calendar at IKEA, also suitable for a DIY advent project. The drawers are empty boxes, waiting for you to fill them with chocolate (sold separately, natch) or your own activity suggestions.


[Photos by me, Target, and Wendy Copley]