35 DIY Advent Calendars to Help You Count Down to Christmas

Build up excitement as you count down to Christmas with an Advent calendar that offers a fun surprise on each of the 24 days leading up to the big event. One of these 35 creative DIY twists on the tried-and-true Christmas counter may be just what you need to start a new tradition that will delight family and friends for years to come.

  1. Seasonal Snaps

    Seasonal Snaps

    Treasure fond memories while counting the days till Christmas by re-creating Sarah Hearts’ photo Advent calendar. The hand-painted tree on a plywood board is filled with 25 printable cards (yes, there’s one for Christmas Day too!) that you can customize with your own photos of family, vacations, or pets.

    Related: 20 Unique Ways to Display Holiday Cards


  2. Santa’s Special Delivery

    Santa’s Special Delivery

    Thanks to an array of paper “mailboxes,” this refillable wood-framed foam board from Houseful of Handmade delivers tiny toys from Santa to your kith and kin. Its sturdy construction means you'll be able to use it for many Christmas seasons to come.

    Related: Must Be Nice: 10 Extravagant Services People Hire for the Holidays


  3. Fun with Felt

    Fun with Felt

    Following this tutorial from A Beautiful Mess, hang hand-stitched felt stockings from a frame made of wooden rods, yarn, and beads so little ones can reveal a daily surprise from Father Christmas.

    Related: Here’s How Designers Decorate for the Holidays


  4. Acts of Kindness

    Acts of Kindness

    This Advent calendar from Alice & Lois encourages you to give back as you count down. Write 25 good deeds on slips of paper, then place each one into an envelope and hang the envelopes from twine or ribbon. Open up a new envelope every day, then get out there and do some good.


  5. Up to Scratch

    Up to Scratch

    Friends or family members will feel like they’ve won the lottery when they get their hands on this scratch-off calendar from A Beautiful Mess. Paper snowflakes are topped with soap-covered circular card stock cutouts that have numbers written on them. To claim your daily prize, scratch off a circle to reveal the number, then look under the "tree" to find the corresponding gift. 

    Related: 45 Insanely Easy-to-Make Holiday Ornaments


  6. Go Out on a Limb

    Go Out on a Limb

    For an evergreen Advent calendar idea, follow this tutorial from The Merrythought that uses matchboxes reinforced with birch plywood and jazzed up with white paint. Suspend the little boxes from an evergreen branch hung on the wall. Inside each matchbox, place the name of a person to call or write to, or a holiday activity for everyone to enjoy, so you can make the most of this joyful season. 


  7. Positively Magnetic

    Positively Magnetic

    As the blogger behind Something Simple demonstrates, you can make a surprisingly glammed-up gift-giving station with little more than dollar-store party favor tins outfitted with magnets and mounted on a fridge (or stand-alone magnetic board) in the shape of a tree. 


  8. Merry Mountains

    Merry Mountains

    No matter the weather outside, you’re guaranteed a winter wonderland indoors when you make this showstopper from You Are My Fave. Three-dimensional card stock mountains are topped with painted-on snowcaps and accented with mini evergreen trees and numbered flags to set a festive scene.

    Related: 25 Handy Stocking Stuffers Under $25


  9. Christmas Village

    Christmas Village

    Enlist the youngest members of your family to help construct this Christmas neighborhood from A Beautiful Mess with brown kraft paper or card stock. Number each little house and fill it with a tiny trinket before you tape it shut.


  10. Hole-in-One Holiday

    Hole-in-One Holiday

    Inspired by the “Punch a Bunch” game on “The Price Is Right,” this nonstop-fun calendar from Studio DIY, made of paper or plastic bowls, tissue paper, and fringed garlands, craftily conceals 24 gifts behind 24 holes. Bonus: There’s an extra goody for Christmas Day stashed beneath the giant red bow topper!

    Related: 15 Insanely Easy Ways to Decorate for the Holidays


  11. Takeout Tower

    Takeout Tower

    Foodies can get Christmas to go this year by making this too-clever Advent calendar from Studio DIY. Treat-filled takeout boxes in all the colors of the rainbow are stacked in rows to make the season brighter.


  12. Up the Wall

    Up the Wall

    Those fond of organizing will revel at the prospect of counting down to Christmas with this rustic timber-and-fabric Advent wall chart from The Painted Hive. Five rows of chalkboard paper pockets are filled with merry memos printed on shipping tags—perfect for hanging on the Christmas tree.


  13. Flying Colors

    Flying Colors

    This Christmas, leave Santa some eye candy rather than cookies by building this Advent village from Lia Griffith. The dainty dwellings that dangle from the mantel are made of colored paper and red-and-white baker’s twine. They're so irresistible that you’ll want to live in one yourself.


  14. Hanging Loose

    Hanging Loose

    Create this cheery counter from A Subtle Revelry by assembling 24 printable pouches with double-sided tape. Fill the pouches with tiny treasures, and then hang them from a wall-mounted wooden dowel using strings of different lengths for an artful asymmetrical arrangement.

    Related: The Weirdest Things Anyone Has Ever Used to Make an Awesome DIY Christmas Wreath


  15. Pocketfuls of Simple Pleasures

    Pocketfuls of Simple Pleasures

    Would you rather give your family members memorable experiences, or the latest toys or trinkets? In Rachel Denbow’s felt-paneled Advent calendar, each pocket holds a fun bonding activity like “Bake Brownies Together” or “Get a Movie from Redbox.”


  16. Advent in a Jar

    Advent in a Jar

    If an Advent calendar isn’t your jam, mark the time until Santa’s arrival like the blogger behind Poppytalk did. Scrawl sweet holiday messages or fun holiday activities on pieces of brightly colored paper, and glue a pom-pom to the end of each for easy retrieval. Fill a glass jar with the pom-poms, then take out one each day. After you remove a message, transfer the pom-pom to a piece of string. By Christmas Day, you'll have a colorful garland of pom-poms for your tree.

    Related: 15 Times Outdoor Xmas Decorations Went Too Far


  17. In the Air

    In the Air

    More than a pop of color, this Advent calendar created by Look What I Made promises a poppin' good time. The wall-mounted driftwood "Christmas tree" brims with colorful numbered balloons, each bearing a loving note or holiday activity that is revealed when the balloon is popped.

    Related: A Dozen Clever Hacks for Your DIY Holiday Home


  18. Bright Baubles

    Bright Baubles

    Take a cue from Sincerely, Sara D to spread joy throughout Advent without doling out presents every day of December. Simply string up 25 miniature ornaments on a chalkboard-painted artist’s canvas labeled with handwritten numerals. Take down one ornament each day and transfer it to the Christmas tree for added sparkle.

    Related: 8 Things You Never Even Knew About Christmas Trees


  19. Treats in a Tube

    Treats in a Tube

    With the help of an old picture frame and dollar-store scrapbook paper, toilet paper tubes were artfully adapted into pillow boxes stuffed with miniature must-haves in this calendar from Smashed Peas and Carrots.

    Related: Christmas Miracle: 8 Simple Fixes for All Your Tree Troubles


  20. Decoupage Decor

    Decoupage Decor

    This crafty counter from Mod Podge Rocks is a scene stealer in any room it occupies. Decoupaged papier-mâché boxes decorated with die-cut numerals are mounted to a merry, moss-colored canvas and filled with treats. 


  21. Boards and Not Much More

    Boards and Not Much More

    You can count on the folks at Home Depot to think up an Advent calendar design that requires joining a few lengths of pine boards together. Hammer 24 nails into the board so they're still sticking out, and hang a numbered ornament from each one. Beautiful!


  22. Celestial Cheer

    Celestial Cheer

    In this Advent calendar from A Beautiful Mess, gold-leafed papier-mâché boxes are emblazoned with numerals, strung together into a garland, and filled with irresistible edibles and seasonal trinkets. Talk about star power!

    Related: 10 Ways to Decorate Your Xmas Tree for Under $10


  23. The Tiniest of Jars

    The Tiniest of Jars

    Novelty size jam jars are transformed by Duni Studio into tiny capsules that contain something seasonal to help you count down the days until Christmas. What you put in the jars is entirely up to you—sweets, a small trinket, or a special note. 


  24. Great Heights

    Great Heights

    A decorative ladder gets a reboot as a sleek and slender Advent calendar. The blogger at Her Tool Belt merely installed cup hooks along the rungs from which to hang reminders of the swiftly approaching holiday. 


  25. Zig and Zag

    Zig and Zag

    A bit of twine takes a criss-cross route across an old shutter in this Advent calendar from DIY Beautify. Cards containing special treats can be clipped onto the string to help you measure your excitement until the big day.


  26. Message in a Bottle

    Message in a Bottle

    A maritime tradition gets a very merry update in this Advent calendar idea from The Merrythought. Roll slips of paper containing special messages, quotes, or do-good assignments, into slender bottles (available at craft stores), then uncork one each day until Christmas.


  27. Light and Bright

    Light and Bright

    This lightweight banner from Lovely Indeed can be suspended from a nail in the wall to preside over a holiday vignette. The felt is bonded to the banner with iron-on adhesive to keep it secured—without the unsightly wrinkling that can be caused by poorly applied craft glue, or the time-intensive labor or stitching with embroidery floss. 


  28. Sweet Surprise

    Sweet Surprise

    When sugar-craving guests lift the lid of this candy-dish counter from Just a Girl, they’ll find something even sweeter than chocolate: 24 thoughtful gifts wrapped in mini matchboxes covered with decorative scrapbook paper.


  29. High-Contrast Holiday

    High-Contrast Holiday

    Printable Advent templates from Hey Look make light work of assembling this collection of mod, black-and-white patterned gift boxes. It's a perfect project for time-starved holiday hosts.

    Related: 12 Christmas Tree Decorating Fails


  30. Joy Unwrapped

    Joy Unwrapped

    The elegant arrangement of glittering ornaments atop a cork-filled picture frame from A Pretty Life In The Suburbs makes for a festive decoration. Then, on each day of Advent one ornament is transferred to the Christmas tree.

    Related: 12 Other Ways to Decorate with Xmas Ornaments


  31. Shop Till You Drop

    Shop Till You Drop

    A collection of what look like 24 tiny shopping bags from a high-end boutique, this calendar from Mama Miss can be made on a low-end budget. Simply string up tiers of miniature patterned gift boxes, each with an elegant printable numbered sticker.


  32. Seeing Red

    Seeing Red

    Christmas seems to roll around sooner when you mark Advent with this calendar from Carolyn’s Homework. It’s nothing more than a bold roll of red ribbon that unfurls to reveal one more paper numeral with each new day, along with snowflakes, stars, and rhinestones.

    Related: 9 Tips and Tricks to Cut the Christmas Clutter


  33. Cones of Plenty

    Cones of Plenty

    String a little whimsy from your walls when you re-create this fabric Advent calendar from Cirkus. Bits of colorful fabric are sewn into cones and fitted with eyelets through which a ribbon or string is threaded. Drop a tiny gift inside each cone to give little ones something special to unwrap every day.


  34. Copycat Christmas

    Copycat Christmas

    Restoration Redoux’s knockoff of a Pottery Barn Advent calendar will knock your socks off every day until Christmas. Make it by outfitting an old mirror frame with tempered hardboard. Attach pewter-painted miniature buckets with glued-on labels made from scrapbook paper.

    Related: 8 All-Too-Common Christmas Gifts No One Actually Wants


  35. Oh Rats, It’s Still Not Christmas

    Oh Rats, It’s Still Not Christmas

    Your resident rodents may not have touched the bait on your mousetraps, but kids won’t be able to keep their mitts off this treasure from Fynes Designs. Deactivated mousetraps serve as clipboards to secure tiny trinket-filled sachets or Christmas cards.

    Related: Bob Vila's Top 10 Artificial Christmas Trees


  36. Don't Miss!


    Today's artificial Christmas trees are looking more lifelike than ever! Spring for an artificial Christmas tree this year, and you could save significant cash on your holiday decorating costs for years to come. Click through to see our top picks.