For many people who celebrate Christmas, Advent calendars are a much-anticipated annual trip down memory lane—and a must-have for a “real” holiday at any age!
To make this year’s festive season even more special, skip the store-bought products and create your own Advent calendar to enjoy with your family. This post shows you how, covering:
- What an Advent calendar is
- 10 inspiring ideas for an Advent calendar
- Quick instructions on making your own Advent calendar in Create
What Is an Advent Calendar?
Stemming from the Latin word adventus, which means “arrival,” Advent is a period in the Christian calendar that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent typically begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day.
Historians are not sure exactly when Advent season first appeared, but Advent calendars were created in the 1800s by German Protestants. Over the centuries, they’ve grown into a global phenomenon and are today a cherished tradition to count down the days to Christmas.
Traditional Advent calendars look much like a standard calendar and have paper flaps or drawers for each day, which can be opened to reveal chocolate or other treats. More modern or creative takes on Advent calendars may not even look like a calendar at all—but, of course, they still contain a special surprise for each day.
Although Advent calendars are historically associated with Christianity, they don’t have to be religious! You can make an Advent calendar that follows any theme, religious or not.
Advent Calendar Fillers for Kids and Adults
Like many holiday rituals, Advent calendars are often most beloved by children. But, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a good Advent calendar—especially when you get creative with the daily surprise.
Chocolates have been a go-to treat for Advent calendars since their inception, but try these different ideas to adapt your calendar for any age:
- Wine tastings
- Handwritten notes
- Gourmet food samples
- Experiences or activities
- Gift certificates
- Costume jewelry
- Small toys and trinkets
- Household privileges (e.g. late bedtime pass for kids)
- Beauty product samples
- Pocket change
- Christmas ornaments
10 Creative Advent Calendar Ideas
There’s no wrong way to display an Advent calendar! As long as it counts down the days to Christmas and builds anticipation for the holiday season, you can create an Advent calendar of any shape, size, and style.
To get ideas for your own calendar, check out the 10 impressive examples below.
1. Printable Christmas Tree
With 24 separate squares, this Christmas tree card would be a perfect printable for a traditional Advent calendar. Simply print it out and then use a paper knife to cut out a flap from each square, revealing the surprise behind.
2. Reindeer Envelopes
With this creative twist on an Advent calendar, you’ll make a whole box of adorable reindeer, each numbered with a corresponding day. Although you don’t get the conventional calendar look, the larger-format envelopes give you even more room for Christmas treats.
3. Paper Bags
An inventive mix of the first two options, this Advent calendar hangs against a wall to double as a charming holiday display. Hang the surprises in order if you prefer, or mix them up as in the example above.
4. Wooden Box Print
This Advent calendar sets the scene of a festive, welcoming home. Since it’s a vector, you can print it out and cut out flaps to create a quick and easy DIY Advent calendar.
5. Paper Rolls
Here’s a fun Advent calendar that’s extremely easy to DIY. All you need is some brown craft paper, twine, and numbered labels. You can write the labels by hand or make them a little fancier in Create!
This style of Advent calendar would be perfect for little love notes or “gift certificates” for activities and experiences.
6. Printable Hand-Drawn Calendar
Charming illustrations give this Advent calendar a unique look. It’s another nice candidate for printing out, too, as you can cut along each day’s box to create an openable flap.
7. Wooden Drawers
Little wooden boxes with numbered drawers are one of the most traditional styles of Advent calendar. You can purchase these calendars in the holiday section of many stores, or you can buy an unfinished one at a local craft store and decorate it to your heart’s content.
8. Toilet Paper Holders
Try this fun craft for kids of any age! Save up your spare toilet paper holders and then cut each one into thirds. Glue them onto a cardboard background to create the perfect space for chocolates, small toys, or other treats.
9. Gift Box
If your Advent surprises are on the larger side, this style of calendar accommodates gifts of any size—perfect for things like books, candy sets, or boxes of product samples.
10. Printable Calendar Template
To create an Advent calendar that’s totally your own, start with a template in Create.
This example was made by customizing a regular monthly calendar template with just a few Christmas graphics and a new background color. (Get more detailed design tips and instructions below!)
How to Create an Advent Calendar in Create
1. Choose a Calendar Template
The simplest way to make your own Advent calendar is to start with a monthly calendar template that already has boxes set for the days. Find one you like and then click it to start customizing.
2. Customize the Days
Advent calendars traditionally contain 24 or 25 countdown days, depending on whether you’re counting down to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In either case, you’ll want to customize your calendar template by removing the extra days of the month.
You can leave the days laid out as a rectangle, or take a page from one of the examples above and arrange them into a cute Christmas tree shape.
3. Add Text
Next, you’ll want to number the days—either in sequential order or random order—and then add a title and any additional text for your calendar.
Now’s the fun part: Adding decorative flair to make your Advent calendar your own. Here are some easy suggestions to up the holiday charm:
- Add festive (and free!) graphics by clicking Graphics from the left menu and then searching any holiday keyword.
- Insert winter-themed background patterns under Textures > Seasonal Patterns.
- Throw in some holiday pizzazz by adding a gold foil or gold glitter texture to anything (under Textures > Foil or Textures > Glitter).
- Click Images > Upload to upload your own family photos, making the calendar even more personal to you.
Once you’re done customizing your calendar, click Download from the top and choose your preferred file type.
Now, you’re ready to put your Advent calendar to use! You can print it out and use a paper knife to cut out flaps or, instead, cross out each day on the calendar and have the surprises stored elsewhere.
As long as you’re getting excited for the holidays, there’s no wrong way to use your Advent calendar. Enjoy the holiday season while it’s here!
License this cover image mockup via Look Studio and BarsRsind.