Our favourite themed DIY advent calendar ideas for adults and kids – perfect Christmas countdown inspiration for everyone.

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Wooden gingerbread man on front of number 18 of advent calendar

If you’re looking for advent calendar ideas, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve gathered together our favourite themed advent calendar ideas for you to explore.  Perfect inspiration for everyone on your nice list this holiday season!

These are the best DIY advent calendar ideas to enjoy this Christmas countdown with your friends and family members.  From DIY hot drink advent calendars and coin roulette to an advent of nail polish and pass the parcel style big reveals, there’s something for every child, adult and teen in your life.  Even a cheeky bit of va va voom wink

Looking for more activities to enjoy?  Click here for other fun ideas.

Nothing beats the versatility of a homemade Christmas advent calendar.  It’s hands-down our all time favourite holiday tradition!

Check out our step-by-step guide for planning your own DIY advent calendar – full of tips and tricks to create a truly bespoke design without breaking the bank or tearing your hair out!

And if it’s advent calendar fillers you’re after, we’ve got over 300 awesome ideas to inspire you.

But one of our favourite things about this kind of advent calendar is how easily it can be tailored to a particular theme.

So if your friend is a huge fan of candles, or you have a little one who just loves to colour, you can embrace their passion completely (and often more economically) by creating a themed advent calendar just for them! 

Thoughtfully selected small treats to celebrate their special interests – what a great way to make a magical time of year even more memorable. 

Here’s our round-up of the best advent calendar ideas for adults, kids, teens and everyone in between!  Time to make the advent season extra special…

Advent Calendar Ideas For Adults

Boozy Advent Calendar

Beer Advent Calendar

Beer Advent Calendar

A wonderful way to make the Christmas Countdown merry wink

There are so many ways to create a fabulous boozy advent calendar:

  • Use miniatures for spirits, bottles of beer or smaller bottles of wine.
  • Full sized bottles would make a great (and generous) gift for an upcoming Christmas week host and a fun way to help stock the liquor cabinet.
  • Consider adding mixers and soft drinks on some days – it’ll help manage the cost and ensure you cater for everyone!
  • Miniatures would fit brilliantly into toilet paper roll tubes for a surprise punch calendar.
  • Why not cover up the labels for a fun wine-tasting or guess-the-bottle game?

Photo Advent Calendar

Photo Advent Calendar

Photo Advent Calendar

Create a thoughtful new piece of wall art for our loved one to enjoy well into the New Year!  

A great option for the Christmas countdown for a new parent, grandparent, best friend, or teen with Snapchat folders of photos galore!

Jigsaw Puzzle Advent Calendar

Instructable Jigsaw Puzzle Advent Calendar

Jigsaw Puzzle Advent Calendar. Photo Credit: Instructable

We love this advent calendar idea of slowly putting a jigsaw puzzle together over the course of the Christmas Countdown.

Instructables show you how to upcycle an old puzzle to make a lovely festive project.

Of course, you could buy a Christmas puzzle, make it up and then take it apart in 24 small sections to fill the calendar if you’d prefer.

Recipe Advent Calendar

Making Christmas Cookies

Recipe Advent Calendar Ideas, Perfect For The Cook!

Looking for advent calendar ideas for a keen cook? If so, a Recipe Themed Advent Calendar could work a treat!

Make some recipe cards from recipes you find online and family favourites – we can start you off with a few from the Jolly Festive kitchen!

Add a few small gifts of cute Christmas kitchen utensils (such as cookie cutters and a festive spatula) and a handful of seasonal ingredients.

Fingers crossed your chef friend will let you taste the results!!

DIY Beauty Advent Calendar

Create a bespoke beauty advent calendar, tailored to your recipient’s favourite products. 

Travel sized toiletries work well of course.  But beauty, make up and perfume samples and hotel toiletries are a great option too. 

Collect throughout the year (keeping an eye on use by dates) and then pop in numbered envelopes or small paper bags to create a fun easy DIY beauty calendar.

Calendar Of Messages

Meaningful Messages Advent Calendar

Calendar Of Messages

As we all know, a handwritten message goes a long way.  So why not gather together twenty-four messages to share?  

They could be wishes and inspiring quotes from yourself, or you could collect together messages from a whole host of friends and family to share.

Pop them in festively-decorated envelopes, or roll them and tie with ribbon.

This would be a great idea for a grandparent or family member further afield (as it’d be very easy to post!).

Romantic Love Advent Calendar

Oh la la!

If you and your partner are eager to ensure you have some time for each other during the Christmas Countdown, then this more adult advent calendar could be just the ticket!

Newlywed Survival’s free printable calendar is brimming with naughty but nice ideas to tempt you both.

Add a few romantic messages, some special homemade coupons and a few private treats, and you’re sure to enjoy a very passionate December!

tealight Advent Calendar

Christmas Tree Tealights Advent Calendar

Tealights Advent Calendar

One of the easiest advent calendar ideas that is spot on for the Christmas season. 

Simply fill a calendar of your choice with small candles (Christmas themed or fragranced would be ideal) and present together with a homemade or purchased candle holder.

A variation on this would be to make a wax melts calendar for which you could handcraft the wax melts from leftover candle ends that you’ve collected in the last year.

A fabulous alternative to a chocolate advent calendar with perfect size gifts for smaller calendar designs.

Ornament Advent Calendar

Spread out the pleasure of decorating the tree with an Christmas ornaments advent calendar. Each day there’s a new decoration to add.

Buy some new ornaments for this year, select your favourites from your existing collection, or try your hand at making some for that extra special personal touch.

This would be a fantastic gift for the first Christmas in a new home or a pair of newlyweds!

Nail Polish Advent Calendar

Hannah Weir Nail Polish Advent Calendar

Nail Polish Advent Calendar. Photo Credit: Hannah Weir

Hannah Weir’s nail polish advent calendar idea makes a wonderful treat for any budding nail technician!

And nail polish is the ideal size for little doors or small pockets in advent calendars!  Fill each day with a different coloured polish (don’t forget some sparkly ones as well!). You could add some other manicure or beauty products into the calendar as well.

A really cute advent calendar that will go down a storm with any manicure-loving family or friends.

Click here to find out this year’s trending Christmas nail colours for shopping inspiration!

Seed Advent Calendar

Ideal for the avid gardener in your life!  Whether you collect seeds throughout the year or buy packets to match their favourites, a seed advent calendar could set them up for the year ahead!  Take advice on what to plant when and try to create a selection that will keep them going throughout the next year.

Place the seeds into envelopes and decorate with foliage for a beautifully natural design.  Either number the envelopes or leave as a lucky dip!

Mindfulness Advent Calendar

Mindfulness Advent Calendar

Mindfulness Advent Calendar

Help your friends and family enjoy an advent of Zen with calendar full of self-care inspiration.  Pair the free printable download with an advent candle timer for daily 20 minute pauses to focus inwards.

Big Event Reveal Advent Calendar

Christmas Scrabble Letters With Christmas Lights In Background

Scrabble Letter Puzzle For Christmas

If you have a special festive trip planned, why not set a challenge via an advent calendar to build the excitement and anticipation as you head through the month?

There are so many different ways you could use this method to make your announcement.

Here are three of our favourites:

  1. Provide a daily cryptic clue about the trip, with the clues becoming easier and more relevant as the month progresses.
  2. Find a crossword online (with solution) to pin on the wall. Use the solution to highlight the squares that will ultimately contain the letters needed to announce your trip. Separate and cut up the clues, providing one or two each day. Sit back and watch as the solved crossword reveals your secret plan!
  3. Use a more traditional advent calendar and insert a scrabble piece into each day (perhaps with a chocolate coin too!). When all the pieces have been collected, your lucky recipient(s) can solve the anagram to get the details of the trip.

Ever wondered why we have advent calendars? Click here to discover the history of this countdown tradition.

Advent Calendar Ideas For Kids

Book Advent Calendar

Book Advent Calendar Christmas Tree

Book Advent Calendar

Bring the pleasure of reading to your friends and family this festive season. It’s such a simple way to make those Christmas books shine each year but looks so enticing.

This Christmas countdown calendar is so much fun for the whole family and will surely encourage even the most reluctant reader to snuggle up for story time.

Whilst traditionally book advent calendars are aimed at younger children, there’s no need for older avid readers to miss out.  Consider separating a chapter book into sections to wrap up instead of a new book each day.

Young Children Activity Advent Calendar

Young Children Activity Advent Calendar Cover Page

The littliest members of the family don’t necessarily need a tangible treat each day.  Christmassy activity ideas for each day of advent will keep the festive excitement building just as well!

Check out our printable advent activity calendar of easy fun things to try.

Treasure Hunt Advent Calendar

Treasure Hunt Advent Calendar

Treasure Hunt Advent Calendar. Photo Credit: My Scandinavian Home

Could there be a more fun advent calendar than a treasure hunt one?!

Rather than including little gifts inside the calendar, what about writing a daily clue to the location of each day’s item?

The clues can be as fun or cryptic as you like. We love this chalkboard Christmas Tree presentation of the clues by My Scandinavian Home.

Top Tip: Save the details of each day’s items and location in your phone calendar with an alarm, to make sure you don’t disappoint an eager treasure-seeker!

Coin Roulette Advent Calendar

Perfect for little ones who’ll love unwrapping a shiny coin each day but it’ll go down well with any age group of course!  This is the easiest of advent calendar filler ideas!

Grab a handful of coins of various values – you could add a few chocolate coins in there too.  Pop them in envelopes or stick them to the reverse of gift tags and hang on your advent calendar display. Number them if you want or leave it as a complete lucky dip.

You may like to include a slightly more generous treat for Christmas Eve or on a day when a trip out is planned.

Santa Cotton Wool Beard Advent Calendar

Santa Beard Countdown

A super each Christmas countdown idea.  We love this Santa Beard advent calendar.

Add a cotton wool ball each day until Father Christmas has a full fluffy beard ready for his deliveries on Christmas Eve!

Make Your Own Santa face design as a great December 1st activity or your Elf could deliver one as they arrive.

Colouring Advent Calendar

Christmas Colouring Advent Calendars

Christmas Colouring Advent Calendars

If you have an aspiring artist in the house, then our free printable Christmas Countdowns will be just the ticket. 

Of course, your calendar can include any festive outlines ready to colour.  Buy a Christmas colouring book and separate it between the days or print out Christmas pictures found online and, once coloured, use them to decorate the house.

Advent Calendar Ideas For Everyone

DIY Hot Drinks Advent Calendar

Two Mugs Of Hot Chocolate

A December full of hugs in mugs!

What about a hot drinks advent calendar? 

We all know hot chocolate and Christmas go hand in hand so what about a calendar of drink sachets to share a daily hug-in-a-mug.

Our imaginations can go wild with this DIY advent calendar theme…!

  • Include a mixture of tea, coffee and hot chocolate sachets – something for everyone.
  • Or go all in on your friend / family member’s favourite hot drink – a homemade tea advent calendar for example.
  • Build a hot cocoa station over the month with a sweet treat every day – think marshmallows, cocoa powder, different flavoured hot chocolates, hot chocolate bombs, cute spoons, etc.

And when it comes to presentation, we think delivering the wrapped sachets in an oversized mug would be perfect!

Jokes Advent Calendar

Christmas Jokes Advent Calendar Paper Chain of Red & Gold Strips

Christmas Jokes Advent Calendar

Did you hear about the man who stole an advent calendar? He got 25 days.

You’re guaranteed to get each day off to a cheery start with an advent calendar of daily jokes. With so much going on over the festive run-up, sometimes simple shared pleasures are the best kind!

Activities Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar Activities Printable Tags

Activity Advent Calendar Printable Tags

Rather than filling the calendar with items, why not fill it with fun activities to enjoy together on the run up to the big day?

We’ve created a huge list of family friendly advent calendar activities to enjoy.  What better way to fill the December days than wandering amongst Christmas lights and watching Christmas movies with your loved ones!   

Download your FREE printable activity tags and check out our ideas for extra advent calendar treats to pair them with.  

Kindness Advent Calendar

25 Days of Activities Kindness Advent Calendar

Share the Christmas spirit in your community with this activity advent calendar with a difference!

Add a random act of kindness to your schedule every day of advent.  Or challenge a friend to complete the calendar with you, and swap heart-warming stories of your experiences?

We’ve put together our favourite ideas for a Kindness Advent Calendar to create a free download version you can use straightaway. Or switch items out for others that are particularly important to you.

Advent Calendar Of Riddles

Grass Potato Riddles Advent Calendar

Riddles Advent Calendar. Photo Credit: Grass Riddles

Have fun over the Christmas Countdown with Grass Potato‘s Riddles-Themed Advent Calendars. Or use festive quiz questions or anagrams instead.

(We particularly love their touch of having all the answers ready under the tree so it’s a game of matching pairs as well.)

Gingerbread Advent Calendar

Gingerbread Advent Calendar

Gingerbread Advent Calendar

The sweetest tasting calendar in our list!  Little beats homemade goodies and a whole advent of special treats to enjoy sounds fabulous to us.  This calendar is sure to go down a storm.

Present as decorations hanging on the tree, or fill a gingerbread house with delicious cookies.

Craft Advent Calendar

Crafty Advent Calendar Ideas - selection of festive craft materials

Selection of Craft Materials.

Make your crafter’s day (24 times!) with an advent calendar full of fun festive craft activities and accessories.

From cake toppers to small cross stitch sets, and knitting needles to festive stickers, there’s no end to the number of treats you can find to include!

Go all in with a particular crafting skill if your lucky recipient has a particular passion.  Or share Christmas craft ideas that the whole family can enjoy right the way up to Christmas Eve.  We’ve got plenty of inspiration to get you started!

Games Advent Calendar

Playing card games at Christmas time

Encourage family game time with an advent calendar of ideas!

Encourage some quality time together with an advent calendar full of games!

Manage cost and time investment with a mixture of game ideas across the 24/25 days:

  • Easy no equipment games such as Christmas i-spy or Hide the Ornament.
  • Download some free printable games and quizzes.
  • Mark out a day for each member of the household to choose their favourite game from your existing board game collection.
  • One or a few purchased or preloved games to top up supplies for the winter months.

This would make a fantastic advent calendar for a group of housemates or those looking for family activity inspiration.

And don’t worry about coming up with the ideas … we’ve got plenty for you to try!

Movies Advent Calendar

Jolly Festive's Christmas Movie Advent Calendar

If your family is more about the movies than the games, then try a Christmas Movies Advent Calendar instead!

We’ve got a free printable calendar with all the Christmas hits included.

Or ask each member of the household to add their favourite few to a jar and take one out at random each day.

Pairs perfectly with Christmas Movie Bingo and our Christmas Dinner Popcorn.  You could even link your dinner menu to the day’s movie choice!

Pass-The-Parcel style Big Reveal

Keep the suspense going all the way until Christmas morning!

Rather than arranging twenty-four pockets, boxes or drawers, why not create one enormous pass-the-parcel-style package?

Each day a new layer can be removed (maybe with a small treat or joke included inside).

And then, on the last day (which could of course be Christmas Day itself), the present is revealed.

MORE LIKE THIS: Advent | Homemade Ideas

Share Your Adventure!

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And be sure to tag #jollyfestive in your photos.  We love to see which Christmas activities you’ve been enjoying!