Create the best chocolate-free advent calendar

My friend, the very creative Wendy Copley, created a clever advent calendar for her children and unknowingly changed the course of my own children’s holiday traditions. Whoa, right?

Before I tell you that my family is only altruistic and kind, I will have you know that we usually also supplement with a LEGO advent calendar (prices are a bit obscene already) and an olde time paper advent calendar from my mom. The boys take turns who opens which one.

This Choose-Your-Own-Adventure calendar has two big benefits over all other holiday countdown traditions:

  1. It focuses on experiences over stuff.
  2. I change it according to my mood and available time.

Allow me to explain. The drawers are empty boxes, waiting for you to fill them with chocolate (sold separately, natch) or your own activity suggestions. After reading Wendy’s instructions, I purchased a wooden advent calendar and stuffed it with her printable daily holiday challenges. On any given December Sunday, I might update the selections for the week or I might switch out the mystery box with the activity I want to do right after breakfast before they open it up: Take a bubble bath or Decorate the Christmas tree? Hmmm, what do we have time for? I also keep a pen on hand to fill in the blanks.

Each year, my kids look forward to the holiday activity — drink the good hot chocolate or drive around to see Christmas lights? — almost as much as the LEGO thingie. 

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. Find more inspiration on this kindness countdown to Christmas.

advent printables

Look for other cute drawer advent calendars on amazon. Here are four that I like based on cuteness and likely durability.

Advent calendars for family experiences
{green tree on amazon}

Advent calendars for family experiences
{sorry, this one costs the most!}

Advent calendars for family experiences
{the closest I found to my own}

Advent calendars for family experiences
{Ho ho ho!}


[Photos by me, amazon, and Wendy Copley]