Simple DIY Advent Calendar

I'm coming in REAL LATE to the Advent calendar party, so let me start by giving all you intentional, thoughtful, extra-prepared mamas out there a big ol' high five for starting your Advent calendars on December 1st.

My three-year-old and two-year-old still don't understand numbers and dates, so they were VERY forgiving (a.k.a. completely unaware) that we started our Advent calendar a casual 7 days late. Aiden can recognize numbers ("that bag says 1 on it!") but I was not about to explain that the #1 bag was for December 1. And yep, today is not the 1st.

This ridiculously simple Advent calendar came from a place of wanting to talk about Jesus and all the details of his birth story on a daily basis. Do I love picking out Christmas tree at the tree farm? Yes. Do we watch Christmas movies in our matching festive pajamas? Yes. Does ANYYY of that actually matter, compared to knowing Jesus? Not even a little bit.

So that's where this wildly chill Advent calendar came from. (That, and this Pinterest pin.) I've also shared on Instagram that this book does a great job of telling Jesus' birth story in context with all of Scripture.

Here's how to make your own DIY Advent calendar for small kids: 

What you need:
  • Print-out of this grid of Bible verses 
  • 25 brown paper lunch bags
  • 25 clothespins
  • String/twine
  • Scissors
  • 10 finish nails 
  • Small treats or other goodies to add to the bags

What to do: 

  1. Print out this set of verses, already written out in the easy-readers-version of the Bible. (Hey Pharisees, calm down! I still read to my kids from the NIV! But for the advent calendar, the easy-readers-version works well.) Cut each square out from the grid. 

  2. Label brown lunch bags with numbers 1-25 and get your clothespins out.

  3. Fill each bag with the corresponding verse card, plus any other treats or family activity ideas you want to include. 

  4. Plan the width of your advent calendar hanging space, and get your finish nails ready.

  5. Start your first row of the advent calendar by tying twine/festive string around a finish nail and gently hammering it at an angle into the wall. Note: I TRIED USING SCOTCH TAPE TO HOLD UP THE STRING-ROWS. THEY ALL FELL DOWN. Use nails, I'm telling you. It'll be worth some tiny pin-prick holes in your wall that you can super easily fill with this quick-dry, finger-applied spackle that Target sells for under $4. 

  6. Gently hammer the other end of the string-attached finish nail into the wall. 

  7. Attach your brown paper bags in order, using the clothespins. 

  8. Enjoy!

Do you do an Advent calendar each year? What are some of your favorite ways to add meaning to the holiday season?

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