DIY Advent Calendar

November 14 2015

As a mom, I’m always trying to make the Holidays special to create memories and traditions for our children that they will treasure long after they’ve grown into adults and moved away from home. Creating a yearly Advent calendar around the Holidays – and opening one special little package each day leading up to Christmas – is one way to do that.

When the children were all quite a bit smaller, we would buy a themed Advent calendar filled with chocolate from the store. It seemed like the easiest and cheapest thing to do… until we discovered a few simple and inexpensive DIY ideas for making our own!

This version of a paper bag Advent calendar uses materials that cost very little and can be found at your local grocery, dollar or craft store. Reuse and personalize this calendar year after year by filling it with whatever your heart desires! See the tips below for fun ideas to fill your calendar. 


What you need

  • 24 or 25 items to fill your calendar, depending on the number of days desired (see tips for ideas)
  • 24 or 25 brown paper lunch bags
  • 24 or 25 clothespins
  • 24 or 25 black doilies
  • 6 feet of jute/string/yarn
  • White marker
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors

    Fold the top of a brown paper bag back about half an inch. This will help you to visually centre the placement of your doily and number.


    Rub the glue stick over the centre front of the bag. Place a doily on top of the glue and press down to secure. Repeat for the other 23 (or 24) bags.


    Using the white marker, number all the bags from 1 to 24 (or 25).


    Hang two lengths of jute/string/yarn horizontally where you wish to display your Advent calendar. The bags will hang best if each length is about 3 feet long. Open and fill each bag with desired goodies. Fold over the top of the bag again when finished. (See tips for ideas on what to fill your Advent bags with.)


    Using clothespins, hang each filled bag numbered 13 to 24 (or 25) on the lower piece of jute/string/yarn. Repeat on the top piece of jute/string/yarn with the bags numbered 1 to 12. Adjust spacing between bags if necessary.


Don’t want to fill your Advent bags with the usual chocolates? Try these fun ideas instead:

  • Daily scriptures or memory verses
  • Notes of encouragement to share with a friend
  • Ideas for a fun family activity (a movie night, driving around to see Christmas lights, etc.)
  • Snacks such as individually wrapped cookies, snack bars, etc.
  • Lego (to build something on Christmas Eve or morning)
  • Gift cards for coffee, favourite shops, etc.
  • Reprints of old family photos
  • Coupons for hand, foot or back massages
  • Books/magazines
  • Gum or other candy
  • Comics
  • Craft or drawing supplies