Note To Self: Start Advent Calendar in November!

I realize it’s a little ridiculous to be posting this so late, but maybe make notes for next year…

It’s the morning of December 3rd and I just finished putting the advent calendar together. This is the one tradition my kids will NEVER let me slack on and they were good sports -opening the first 3 bags separate from the whole display.

I started this advent when the kids were bitty. I made simple little bags from scrap fabric I had and used random pieces of ribbon to cinch the tops closed. The bags are numbered with basic string price tags with vintage Bingo numbers glued on.

In the beginning, the bags hung from clothespins attached to an old crinkly-wire metal garden gate hung on the wall. The last several years I’ve attached them to the clips of an old red Tom’s Chips counter display. These can also be clotheslined from a beautiful long ribbon stretching along the wall or hidden among the ornaments of your tree.

On the first of December, my kids roll the dice to dictate the order of daily bag opening. Whoever’s turn it is to open the bag gets first pick of the items inside (which can differ from color, style, flavor, etc.) and then delves out the other two gifts. Once the bag is open, the ribbon, number tag and bag are placed in a little vintage bowl next to the calendar.

It’s getting a lot harder to find tiny age-appropriate gifts that will fit 3 to a bag now that the kids area pre-teens, so I’ve had to supplement several actual gifts with candy, (they never seem to mind.) And buying 3 gifts per bag times 24 bags gets pretty costly, so some days it’s a big ticket item* and most others its just candy. I won’t divulge the specific contents of this years bags, because little you-know-who’s read my blog, but here are some goodies they’ve found in the past:

  • Individually wrapped candy such as truffles, sugar bubblegum (it’s sugarless the rest of the year!), candy-store fun candy, etc.
  • *Starbucks card
  • A set of magnet toys from one larger set broken up into random bags
  • Little office supplies or art supplies (The office supply store is a great source)
  • A dollar each
  • Tech Decks (tiny skateboard toys)
  • Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars
  • Keychains
  • Mini flashlights
  • Mint tins
  • Button badges
  • Jewelry
  • Dice
  • Marbles
  • Tops
  • Chinese jump ropes
  • Lego figures
  • Mechanical Pencils, Cool Pens
  • Fun erasers
  • Stickers
  • Silly Putty
  • Mini Ornaments (They each have mini trees for their rooms)
  • Army guys
  • Tiny sets of playing cards
  • Little wind-up toys
  • Bouny balls
  • A note leading them to where a larger item (that wouldn’t fit in the bag) is hidden

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17 Responses to Note To Self: Start Advent Calendar in November!

  1. #1 - Kristen says:

    Oh I wish I had an ounce of your creativity!
    We do an advent calendar with little doors. If there is something in the door they get that. If not, they get to pick a bag from under the tree, which has little trinkets and things in it. The kids love it and I use it the entire month of December to bribe them to do things 🙂

  2. #2 - Jennifer says:

    A tradition I wish I started with my own kids. This is such a great idea! Now, I have something unique to do for my grandchildren. Please put me on your list to remind around November 1st next year!

  3. #3 - brooke says:

    Those numbers are brilliant.

  4. #4 - Christy says:

    what a great idea cathe! i especially like the vintage bingo numbers glued on the tags. I wish december could be as thrilling for me with little treasures to open everyday!

    thanks for sharing!

  5. #5 - High Desert Diva says:

    I like your version!

  6. #6 - Amy from Texas says:

    Awesome! So cute!

    Are you trying to make me feel bad for getting my Advent Calendar at Hallmark?? Ha! I know, I’m lame, but no time to make cute things this year. Bummer for me. I’ll enjoy looking at yours:-)

  7. #7 - Cathe Holden says:

    Actually Amy, I love the Advent calendars out there- I just couldn’t figure out how to cram 3 items for 3 kids into the tiny spaces for each day.

    I would NEVER purposely attempt to make you feel bad. I’m all about convenience- so I would use one of those for sure if I could : )

  8. #8 - Amy from Texas says:

    P.S. I voted for Jeff! What a HUNK!!! {sigh} hee hee.

    I’d love to feature your kid portraits on my blog next week. Would you mind being my guest designer?

  9. #9 - Whisker Graphics says:

    I love this idea!

    Not trying to brag (ha!), but I may be the Queen of Lame. My 10 year old buys her own advent calendar (a piece of bad chocolate a day) at Trader Joe’s for 99 cents! How lame am I? VERY!

    Maybe next year I’ll hand my Queen of Lame crown over to someone else and try the “Holden” method for an advent calendar. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your creativity Cathe!

  10. #10 - Cathe Holden says:

    Whitney! You crack me up.

    I buy those bad chocolate advents every year for a buck, also. My kids love the fact that they can get out of bed, check the calendar and pop a chocolate. I buy several extra for another family’s kids and I they love it. It’s the best cheap gift I give.

  11. #11 - Stacey says:

    I want to make one next year, maybe I will start in August!!

  12. #12 - joshua says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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  15. #13 - Judy Barber says:

    This is just the greatest idea. I have seen several ideas with spools this year but this is the best!

    Love the ‘flat Stanley’ idea also. I did it for my grandson several years ago. Now they have an embroidered doll that can be made up – my next project – as think this is clever for us adults as well.

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  17. #14 - Jill says:

    I am looking for what to write on the notes for my advent calendar. Kind, inspirational, thought provoking comments for my 11 & 12 year olds to read. HELP! Today is the 29th!