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A to Z Advent Calendar Ideas for Celebrating on a Budget


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In many households, the holiday season starts the moment December begins. Celebrate all month long without breaking the bank by creating a unique advent calendar for you and your loved ones.

An advent calendar is a special way to count down the days until Christmas. Advent calendars typically have a cubby for each day that’s just big enough to fit a small gift or a piece of candy. Every day a new cubby is opened to reveal a different gift. However to make things a bit more fun, you can also do holiday-themed activities to do together!

To get into the holiday spirit this year, make your own DIY advent calendar by gifting fun trinkets or doing one holiday-themed activity per day as you get closer to Christmas! Here we give you an A to Z list of contemporary advent calendar ideas that can be added to any day on your DIY calendar. These suggestions will warm hearts every day of December without costing you a fortune.

DIY Advent Calendar Ideas


From A to Z, below are 26 unique ideas on what activities to do during the holiday countdown and items to place in your advent calendar.

Air plant: Air plants are dainty and unique live plants that require very little maintenance and cost only a few dollars. For a fun twist on the classic holiday plant, gift an air plant decorated for the holiday season, or make air plant ornaments for a fun advent calendar activity!

Bath bomb: Kids and adults alike will love tossing a bath bomb into the tub. This inexpensive but luxurious self-care treat upgrades a regular bath to an in-home spa experience. Use this Target coupon and purchase a bath bomb for a discount!

Candy: Of course, candy is an advent calendar essential! Whether you include a piece of poppable bubble gum or a fancy Swiss chocolate, everyone is sure to love a sweet treat.

Donation card: Donating a few dollars to a favorite local charity is a great way to spread holiday cheer even further. Use these printable donation cards to let someone know you donated on behalf of them this season.


Essential oil: Gifting a small bottle of essential oil is a frugal way to soothe the senses. Winter scents such as sandalwood, vanilla and pine are sure to settle stresses this holiday season. Sniff out the best price with this Amazon coupon.

Front door decor: Get your wrapping paper, tape and ribbon ready to wrap your front door up like a present! You can add gift paper across the entire door and tie up some big bows to tape all over. Here are some pointers on how to tie the perfect bow for your holiday door.

Gingerbread house building: Building a gingerbread house as a family is a fun way to show off your design skills. Gumdrop shingles and candy cane chimneys stuck on with globs of sugary frosting — what’s more quintessential to the holidays?

Hershey’s Kiss: A couple of chocolate Hershey’s Kisses always ring true to say, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Set the mood by playing the original jingle beforehand.

Ice cookies: The holiday season isn’t complete without decorating Christmas cookies. Set aside a day leading up to the 25th to bake and ice your favorite kind.

Jingle bells: Get into the holiday spirit by going caroling! Walk around your neighborhood and spread cheer with renditions of classic holiday songs like “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer.”

Knit a stocking: Why buy a stocking to hang on the mantel when you can knit your own? Save some money and learn a new skill by picking up some knitting needles and yarn to make stockings for the whole family. Here is a tutorial in case you need a starting point.

Love note: Tell the special people in your life just how much of a gift they are by penning them a short but sweet note for the holidays. A handwritten message from a loved one is always heartwarming.

Mistletoe: Decorate your home with a holiday staple — mistletoe! Surprise your loved ones by pinning the plant to the ceiling and giving them a holiday peck.

New Year: Christmas isn’t the only holiday in December — the new year is right around the corner. Get with your loved ones to chat about your New Year’s resolutions and what you hope to accomplish in the next year.

Ornaments: A classic holiday gift that’s great for people of all backgrounds and all ages. If you’re the artistic type, consider making your own paper ornament using this printable template.


Popcorn garland: Create a popcorn garland together as a group. To make the garland even more festive, you can use a green piece of string and add some cranberries in between the popcorn pieces. Bonus — snacks!

Quilt a Christmas blanket: Get some cute fabric together to create your own holiday quilt! You can use fabric from ugly Christmas sweaters from previous years to make this activity cost next to nothing.

Reese’s Christmas tree: Do we even need to explain? YUM. (Editors tip: Buy one for yourself to avoid eating your gift before you make it home from the store.)

Stuff stockings: As the holiday grows near, stuff your stockings! Fun stocking stuffers include mini versions of classic toys and fuzzy socks. For a twist on the classic Christmas plant, you could even include a poinsettia seed packet. Use this Lowe’s coupon in the garden section when seed shopping to get the best possible deal.

Tour holiday lights: Hop in the car and drive around the neighborhood to view the holiday light displays together. Print out this holiday light scavenger hunt before you leave and see how many you can check off the list.


Unwrap a pair of pajamas: Getting to open a single present under the tree is always an exciting feeling. Plan ahead and wrap up a pair of Christmas pajamas to sleep in while waiting for Santa to come.

Venti PSL: Put a couple dollars on a gift card for a cup of their favorite seasonal drink. Make sure to use this Starbucks coupon to get the best bang for your buck — and keep the pumpkin spice flowin’!

Wine topper: Those old enough to indulge will appreciate this simple yet sophisticated gift. Opt for a holiday-themed topper to add a touch of cheer.

X’s & O’s: The holidays are meant to bring family together. Write out an IOU for a big bear hug and see how quickly it’s redeemed.

York Patty: Peppermint is the perfect holiday flavor. Pair it with chocolate and you can’t go wrong. Not to mention, they only cost about a dollar — might as well buy a few!

Zoom call your loved ones: Get online and video call friends and family to wish them a happy holiday season. Staying in touch is simple when technology is available. You can even download a festive background like a snowy meadow or a crackling fireplace to set the mood.

Additional Budget-Friendly Advent Calendar Activity Ideas

In case the above suggestions don’t fill your DIY advent calendar dreams, here are a few more fun and frugal ideas for how to celebrate the holiday countdown:

Cut out snowflakes

Decorate a Christmas tree

Take pictures with Santa at the mall

Make hot cocoa

Read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Write a letter to Santa

Hang up a wreath

Learn how to say “Merry Christmas” in different languages

Watch a holiday film like “A Christmas Story” or “Elf”

Build a fire in the fireplace

Munch on Christmas cookies

Other Ways to Save Money When Celebrating

Gifting for the whole family can add up quickly. Follow these tips to save money without sacrificing the fun:

Reuse wrapping paper: Instead of wrapping paper, reuse brown paper grocery bags. Use a piece of twine and an evergreen clipping to create an adorable and natural DIY gift wrap.

Buy in bulk: If you have a long list of people to shop for, consider purchasing something in bulk and dividing it creatively. For example, a five-pound bag of holiday roasted coffee can be divided into 10 different plastic bags. Add a cute ribbon and tag and you have 10 great gifts that did not cost a ton.

Send digital cards: Scratch printing and postage fees when sending cards this year by going digital. Virtual cards can be customized to include multiple photos and even videos so you won’t have to sacrifice any of the extra jingle bells and whistles when sending your seasonal note.

Hopefully this DIY advent calendar will help you spend more time with family time and less money this holiday season. It’s extra special when you can give gifts every day of December on a budget without sacrificing any of the fun. If you’re still looking for some last-minute presents, take advantage of this Groupon coupon and make sure to choose expedited shipping!

Sources: Good Housekeeping | Cafe Astrology | YouTube | Evermine | NY Times | Healthline | Live Seasoned

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