Last-Minute Advent Christmas Countdown for the Kids

Sometimes the holidays sneak up on me and I haven’t quite prepared as well as I would have liked to.  I would love to create an advent calendar that we could use year after year with hand sewn detailing and beautiful hand drawn tags for each day.  I just don’t have the patience this time of year though.  (Perhaps I should make an advent calendar in February??)  In any case, I came up with a system that is cute, functional and allows us to celebrate the countdown to Christmas with fun activities each day.  A few simple supplies and a basic craft get the job done!  First things first, round up the supplies for your Christmas countdown!

Functional Supplies:


Decorative Supplies:

The most important supply for this project are the little metal envelopes.  I use ours as a mailbox where Santa can drop off each day’s activity.  Simply fill out one of the little tags (FREE printable below!) with a fun Christmas activity and drop it in each evening.

I used these little ornaments as the bags that have activity supplies in them each morning (thanks Santa!), but 2 or 3 additional metal envelopes would work great here as well!

Once you have the basic supplies for the project, you then need a frame system to pull it all together.

I use this frame year round for drying herbs, but at Christmas, it is perfect for this “calendar” of sorts.  To create the base, simply attach wire to the back of the frame and stretch in a grid pattern (like tic-tac-toe).  Make the grid squares as small or as large as you like, then pull tight and secure to the opposite end of the frame with either a staplegun or good old-fashioned hammer and nails.  Frames like these can often be found on the side of the road (in the trash!) or at thrift stores for pennies.  Pick one up and give it new life with a little sanding, a coat of paint and a brand new purpose!

Sift through your toolbox, or hop over to the hardware store to pick up some curtain clips or small s-hooks that will hang on the wire.  If you are using curtain hooks, string them through the wire BEFORE nailing down the ends, but hooks can be attached any removed anytime and anywhere.  Ornament hooks will also work and are usually in abundance this time of year!

To create the “JOY,” I simply used chipboard letters, glued beaded Martha Stewart glitter onto them and then applied ModPodge dimensional magic on top for a 3D effect.

Once you’ve got the basic, functional supplies taken care of, it is up to you how complex you want to get with ornamentation.  I simply added a few snowflakes, my “JOY” letters and the garlands I had already made for our Winter Fairy Hunt.

Once the frame system is set up and decorated, all you need are the activities!  Be as simple or complex as you want!  I included basic family traditions like baking Christmas cookies, cutting down the tree and making cards, but also included fun craft activities with various supplies from Consumer Crafts.  To make the tags, simply print out THESE TWO PAGES on a thick, heavy cardstock.  Cut out the little squares and plop one in the envelope every night after the kids go to bed!

To download the FREE PRINTABLE, just click HERE!

Now have a Merry Christmas, why don’t you?

About Amy Renea

Hey y'all! I'm Amy Renea, a freelance photographer and writer based out of Hershey, PA. I spend my days chasing children and chickens around the back yard, sipping on dandelion tea and munching on sweet potato chips. Come visit the Nest for All Seasons to learn more about my food, photography, DIY designs and modern garden living!


  1. says

    This is a great idea and I love the way it all looks as a decoration piece if you’re like me and don’t have kids yet. I need to find me a big frame like this…


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