How to Organize Your Advent Calendar Ideas

Planning Advent calendar ideas with activities or treats for every slot can be a big task. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a system that works well for our family. I’ve turned it into a free printable organizer. It will help you plan fun yet easy activities for any Advent calendar.

How to plan Advent calendar activities for kids. Includes suggested activities plus space to write in your own. There's also a 3-page free printable organizer.

When Liam was small, and before the girls were old enough to participate in Advent calendars, I used to just buy an inexpensive, candy-filled calendar every year. It was easy, but I didn’t like giving him candy every day for a month.

Planning Advent Calendar Ideas

Once my girls were old enough, I switched to an activity-based Advent calendar. Every morning, the kids take out a new slip of paper announcing the day’s holiday activity.

But I didn’t want to make it too hard on myself.

I got to thinking – if I put the holiday activities we were going to do anyway into the Advent calendar, I could get credit for them. It would also bring all those bits together in the kids’ minds, giving them a better sense of the Christmas season.

I’ve had no complaints. On the contrary, they love it!

How to plan Advent calendar activities for kids. Includes suggested activities plus space to write in your own. There's also a 3-page free printable organizer.

Getting Started with your Free Advent Organizer

It’s not hard to map out all your Advent calendar ideas. Just grab your free organizer and print it out. Then, follow these simple steps:

  1. First, identify all the Christmas parties and family gatherings that the kids will be excited about. Write those on the included blank calendar, and write how many events you have on the top of the worksheet page.
  2. Next, use the worksheet page to brainstorm all the fun local events you might take the kids to. Count how many you wrote down and jot that number down at the bottom of that column.
  3. Finally, add together the number of local events and the number of parties/gatherings. Subtract this sum from 25 to figure out how many days you need to find an activity or treat for.

Filling Up the Rest of your Advent Calendar

Now you’re ready to fill in around your events and gatherings.

  1. The heart of this system is the Family-Centered Easy Activities and the Traditional Activities.
  • The “easy” activities work well for us on school days. They are low prep and don’t take much time. Check off the ones you like, and add any of your own. For example, one weeknight family activity we always enjoy is Christmas charades. This is something that has grown well as the kids have gotten older too.
  • The “traditional” activities are more involved. We usually do those on weekends or once school is out for winter break. Again, check off the ones you like, and write down any additional ideas you have.
  1. On the next worksheet page, you can add in Act of Kindness and New Crafts or Activities.
  • For your Acts of Kindness, be sure to choose ones the kids will be excited about. You may do other less exciting ones as well, but they shouldn’t count as an advent calendar activity.
  1. Next, count up the number of all the different types of advent activities you have listed so far. Subtract that number from 25 to find out how many Treats you’ll need to fill in. I’ve given you several suggestions on the Advent planner itself.
  2. Finally, once you have 25 Christmas activities chosen, you’re ready to fill them in on your master Advent Calendar page.

Here at my house, Liam doesn’t miss the daily candy at all. He’s too busy having all sorts of Christmas fun.

How to plan Advent calendar activities for kids. Includes suggested activities plus space to write in your own on a free printable organizer.

You may also like some of these other creative ideas for an advent calendar. Some of them work well in conjunction with this planner too!

Snowmen Advent Calendar A simple advent calendar to make with the kids to hold either envelopes containing activities or a small gift each day of December counting down to Christmas.

Story Book Advent Snowman Create a children’s storybook Snowman advent calendar so your child has a Christmas-related book to read every day.

Homemade Christmas Countdown for Kids Homemade Christmas Countdown for kids with handmade envelopes and a daily festive activity.

An Occupational Therapy Christmas  The Christmas season can be a difficult time for kids with sensory needs and Occupational Therapy needs. The calendar will present holiday sensory overload coping strategies and calming activities to help families connect while focusing on family and the joy of the season.

Countdown Christmas Card Avoid that morning sugar rush with a candy-free way to countdown the days to Christmas with a Countdown Christmas Card!

Count Down to Christmas with Numbers & Math A printable page for each day to work on number counting and math facts for kids from PreK to 2nd Grade.

Christmas Carols Advent Calendar A printable advent calendar featuring one Christmas carol of each day.

DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendars  A great activity for siblings to hide secret messages inside
each others DIY Christmas Tree Advent Calendars.

Christmas Advent for Toddlers and Preschoolers A Christ-centered countdown to Christmas for toddlers and preschoolers to get in on the fun of advent. Includes activities, family service projects, crafts, and more!

Advent Elf Countdown Printable Elf Houses to explore during Advent which build into a small world play scene

Printable Advent Calendar A free printable Christmas advent calendar, with fun suggestions of use.

Christmas Cookie Advent Calendar A festive baked treat for every day of advent with this
Christmas cookie advent calendar.

Printable Advent Activities for Families Printable advent cards with simple family activities for the Christmas season.

Winter Snowflakes Advent Calendar A Christmas tree on the cork board: this simple DIY advent calendar features a child’s favorite artwork and a poster puzzle, and reveals a fun surprise a day.

Advent Acts of Kindness 50 free stocking-shaped printables of acts of kindness that can be used to make an advent calendar.

You might also like these Christmas posts from Books and Giggles:

Storybook Gingerbread House for a New Holiday Tradition

Book-Inspired Counting Activity for Toddlers or Preschoolers

How to Host a Children’s Book Exchange Party

How to plan Advent calendar activities for kids. Includes suggested activities plus space to write in your own. There's also a 3-page free printable organizer.


  1. Fantastic – I would love to be this organised to put one together but I'm not so glad that you are so I can get planning now. Can't wait to download and start planning our family activities.

  2. What a great way to get organized for the holidays. I could have used this last year when planning our advent calendar.

  3. A wonderful way for planning the weeks ahead – sometimes we all need that focus to avoid Christmas meltdowns!

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