every december, when i was a child, my mother had a simple but beautiful advent calendar. i can’t remember it exactly but i do recall a wood one, where behind each intricate door were nice chocolates that my mother would have picked out. as exciting for her as for my brother and i. mama, please correct me here. either way, each day of december, our little family of four would open the number of the corresponding day and have a treat. simple as that.

jp’s family had a different activity every night for advent. his mother, he recalls, planned items and outings and foods for the whole family to partake in each day leading up to advent. he doesn’t remember the advent calendar.

i’d like a mix of both; simplicity and surprise.

with our little family, each holiday i feel this intense urge to create our own powerdriver traditions. ramona is still young and, essentially, oblivious. but soon she won’t be. and she’ll be excited about the little things our family does each year. so last year i made stockings and this year i made an advent calendar. bc i wanted to take the tradition of my mother’s thoughtful and beautifully made advent calendar and jp’s mother’s tradition of nightly activities based on what was opened each day of advent. ramona won’t care much for the advent calendar i made. at least not this year. and she won’t care much for the activities, except for the hot cocoa. at least not this year. but they’ll be there. the traditions. at least the start of them. and my humble attempts at making our little family our own.

this year i made a simple, modern advent calendar based on the tutorial from weekday carnival. jp helped me diagram the triangles on a piece of wood that we had initially planned to use for our bathroom vanity. i used gold nails, fancy black & white twine, and numbers printed on heavy cardstock. (my strings weren’t all as taut as i would like so, if you try this for yourself, make sure you pull your strings tight and double twist at every nail).

here’s what i have planned for each day of december (written on the back of the respective day) to get in the christmas spirit:

  1. decorate house for christmas (it’s small so we only need an hour!
  2. watch “a christmas story”
  3. make paper snowflakes
  4. make popcorn and watch “a charlie brown christmas”
  5. buy new toothbrushes for the family!
  6. write a christmas wish list and include non-tangible things
  7. read the birth of Christ in the gospels
  8. spend special family time with the farm yard animals
  9. have a candlelit dinner
  10. hang mistletoe
  11. have a sweet treat for breakfast
  12. make pepperkakor cookies
  13. declutter for christmas (boxes of vintage stuff, mo’s toys. basement)
  14. make an egg nog cocktail. egg nog for the little ones.
  15. go on morning winter hike
  16. go for a drive to see christmas lights
  17. drink hot cocoa while watching yet another christmas movie
  18. enjoy hot cocoa for breakfast
  19. go thru and read winter and christmas books
  20. bake some more christmas treats
  21. put coins in strangers’ meters
  22. determine new years resolutions
  23. have a sweet treat for breakfast
  24. take a photo w santa

here are other posts i used that have additional festive ideas for how to celebrate the days leading up to the 25th.

need ideas for christmas gifts? don’t forget about my giveaway from artifact uprising. leave a comment on this post to be entered to win.


  1. Cora says:

    I love this! So chic and hardly take up any room! I’ve been seeing tons of awesome advent calender ideas on Pinterest but this is by far my fave!

  2. Mariah says:

    So lovely… I enjoy changing our advent calendar each year, but after reading your post I am reminded of the importance of continuity as well. The wood adds such a warm feeling…

  3. Rebecca says:

    I LOVE this idea. It is really meaningful and such a great tradition to begin. Also, such great activities to look forward to each night as a family.

  4. Alli says:

    I love your activity list! I’m going to borrow heavily from it for our advent calender next year. And it is never too early to start Christmas traditions x

  5. […] first 10 days of advent have been quite nice. there’s been lots of hot cocoa and little sweet treats and crafts done […]

  6. Briana says:

    How did I miss this post?! Love your Advent calendar. We always had those cardboard ones as kids with the waxy chocolate inside. 😉

    I’ve struggled this year with this intense desire to create our own family traditions centered around the holidays but, since my husband and I are both atheists, it’s hard to justify celebrating Christmas for its true meaning. So, we’ll take this year off and then, next year, start creating memories and traditions around love, family, giving, and remembering. And hot chocolate and egg nog!


    • emily says:

      briana, i totally understand and appreciate your concern about being genuine in celebrating the season, faithful or not. there are definitely many christ-oriented traditions during december but there are many that aren’t! and what fun for your family to adopt these, tweak them, and make them yours. have fun exploring!

  7. […] year so i had to get a jump on planning for our family advent activities. last year i posted the tutorial for our DIY advent calendar. using that same calendar, i’ve come up with some different activities, tweaked now that […]

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