An advent calendar is the first step towards Christmas for kids. It’s a pretty big part of the festive period.  The excitement of opening up the little square and taking out that tiny piece of chocolate sends some of them bonkers. These days it’s not just chocolate that you can find in your calendars. Alternatives to chocolate advent calendars have become increasingly popular and not just for allergy sufferers. Have you ever thought of trying to make your own advent calendar though?

When I was growing up my mum had a giant fabric advent calendar. She would fill the little pockets on it for us with treats every year and we loved it! It is a tradition I want to recreate with Piglet and JJ and one which I hope they will enjoy. It can be tough to think of things to fill one, especially if you’re trying to come up with homemade stocking filler ideas too! So I’m sharing my favourites with you to give you some inspiration:

The DIY Advent Calendar

To start with you need an actual advent calendar. I love the treasure box style wooden advent calendars, perfect for popping a couple of treats in for the kids to share. If that doesn’t fit with your Christmas decor then you could go for one made up of felt bags or one that lights up. Fabric advent calendars are also very popular. There are lots of different options, and you could even have a go of making one yourself if you are good with your hands.

A table with a red and white wooden train advent calendar on it with gifts on the carriages.Related Post: The Christmas Present NOT To Buy

Advent Calendar Fillings


This might seem a bit obvious – but you have to think outside the box a bit. It doesn’t have to be a plain chocolate, you can buy funsize snacks of your kids favourite brands. You could also get some Christmas themed ones. Anything that takes your fancy! My favourite are the Lindt Christmas chocolates, but obviously they are a little more expensive so I only put a couple of those in. The fun of a advent calendar is they don’t know when to expect it!

If you want to go the extra mile you could make your own chocolates. All you need is some chocolate moulds and your favourite chocolate and you can have fun with the kids with a simple family activity.

Treasure Hunt Clues

One fun aspect my mum used to do for us was to write little clues and send us on a treasure hunt to find our treat for the day. That was particularly good for days when it was too big to go into the advent calendar. When you’re trying to fit 3 treats in it can get a little cramped at times!

A white green and red fabric advent calendar against a white wallRelated Post: 10 Christmas Films To Watch This Festive Season

Christmas Tree Ornaments

My kids have their own mini Christmas tree that they are free to decorate as they please. I love to pop little Christmas tree decorations in to their reusable advent calendar for them to place on the tree each day.  It is a fun alternative to having sweets or chocolate, and they are very similar to ornaments we had growing up, so the nostalgia factor adds something for me.

Pencils And Rubbers

I have always been a sucker for stationary and I find that lots of kids are too. A Christmas pencil, or even better a Christmas rubber, is sure to get them excited. You might even get 5 minutes peace while they sit down to use it.

2 Christmas presents under the tree wrapped in red and gold wrapping paperRelated Post: Making A Gingerbread House With Toddlers


For younger children crayons are a nice and easy choice. Aside from being cute, Christmas themed crayons are practical too and they can get use of them throughout the festive period and beyond.

Hair Bows And Bobbles

You can either go with plain bows or bobbles that they can use all year round, or stick with the Christmas theme and get a Christmas bow. Advent calendar gifts don’t have to be expensive, and buying a multipack means you can use one each day for a few days.


Piglet loves stickers, so I know they are a safe bet for any occasion. You could stay with the Christmas theme or just go for something else – I don’t think they will mind either way!

Activity Notes

These can really vary depending on how much time you have. For weekdays it can be something really simple “We’re going to put on our PJs and snuggle up to watch Elf with some hot chocolate” or “Today is Piglet’s Nativity so we’re all going to go along and watch”.  At the weekend you could make a bigger deal of it by going ice skating, to the panto or visiting Father Christmas etc. There are so many options!

A little boy sits on a coffee table with a christmas tree in the backgroundRelated Post: 5 Reasons To NOT Buy Your Baby Christmas Presents

Christmas Earrings

For older girls, you might want to put some Christmas earrings in your homemade advent calendar. They’re small and simple and they can use them again the following year.

Bath Toys

I love finding seasonal bath toys to keep bath time fun for the boys. If you’re sneaky, you can take away the Christmas bath toys after the festive period and hide them to use in your advent calendar again the next year,


This one might seem a bit obvious. Chocolate is the obvious choice so mixing things up by adding a miniature haribo bag or a couple starbursts (are they still a thing? Am I showing my age?) makes a nice change in a homemade advent calendar. Its especially good if you’re little one isn’t a major chocolate fan or has allergies.

Do you have any other ideas for advent calendar fillers? Let me know in the comments!

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