Art with Alyssa: DIY Christmas Advent Calendar

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Everyone loves advent calendars that reveal a daily surprise! There’s no candy in this DIY advent calendar—each surprise encourages new family traditions and holiday memories for 25 days leading up to Christmas Day. Get the kids involved—activities such as writing, cutting and gluing increase fine motor skills.

Discussion Points for Parents and Teachers

  • Activities kids love to do with family
  • Ways to help others
  • Different holiday traditions

Supplies

  • Colored construction paper or cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Glue stick or white glue
  • String or ribbon
  • Clothespins or clips
  • Optional: pre-printed numbers (1 through 25)

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Directions

  1. Make a list of 25 fun activities your family can easily do together. Some suggestions:
    Make breakfast for dinner.
    Make a blanket fort.
    Have a sunset picnic.
    Learn about a tradition from another culture.
    Read a book in a funny voice.
    Eat dinner by candlelight.
    Make hot chocolate from scratch.
    Do a kind deed for a friend.
    Make a donation to a food bank.
    Tour holiday lights in your pajamas (with San Diego Family’s Map of Christmas Lights, of course).

  2. Cut 25 (4.5”x4.5”) squares of colored paper to put the numbers on. They can be the same color or different.

  3. Adhere pre-printed numbers to the center of each square or write numbers 1 through 25. Allowing children to write numbers is good writing practice. For young children, write the numbers in pencil and let them trace over them with marker.

  4. Add embellishments around the numbers, if desired: draw frames, colored outlines, curved lines, etc. Be creative!

  5. Cut 25 (5”x5”) squares of colored cardstock, patterned paper or construction paper.

  6. If these squares have different patterns or colors, lay them out in desired order before adhering numbers.

  7. Glue the squares with numbers to the center of the larger squares.

  8. Write one activity from the list on the back of each square (or print activities and glue on).

  9. Let dry.

  10. Use clips to hang the squares (numbers facing out) on a string or ribbon.

  11. Each day, turn a square over to reveal that day’s activity. Have fun!

  12. Optional: When the activity is complete, write a note about the family’s experience on the card. When it’s time to take the calendar down, create a mini memory book by punching holes in the squares and connecting the pages with string.

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Note: This countdown calendar project can be designed for other holidays or momentous events such as birthdays, a wedding or graduation.


Alyssa Navapanich is an art enthusiast who teaches art to elementary school kids in North County.

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