Advent Calendar Activities for Adventurous Families
It’s time to start the countdown. Maybe it’s about being mindful…or counting your blessings…or preempting your kids asking, “HOW MANY DAYS?!?” But part of the fun of December is building the anticipation for Christmas day, and this year we decided to put the “Advent” in “adventure.” We hope you’ll enjoy these twists on Advent calendar activities.
Inspired? Create and share by tagging @HallmarkStores.
Two ways to use these Advent calendar activities
Super random and highly adventurous
Print out our Advent-ure Calendar Activities, cut them into squares, and drop them in a box or bowl. When your family is looking for something fun to do, pull one out.
Organized and only slightly less adventurous
Print the Advent-ure Calendar Activities, cut them into squares, and add the ones you’d like to try to whatever countdown calendar your family uses. That way you can incorporate our activities seamlessly into busy holiday plans.
We’ve provided a long list below—there are way more than 25 and some extra details about the ones we featured. Just in case you want more advent-ures! (We can’t stop saying that.)
And now, on to the advent-ures
For many of us, the holiday season is a time for honoring traditions and revisiting the meaningful holiday family activities we’ve always enjoyed. But it can also be the perfect season to try something new and different—maybe even something downright adventurous.
If your family isn’t afraid to try, taste, learn and mix it up—or even if you simply aspire to be more like that—then why not approach the holidays with a spirit of “advent-ure”?
We’ve brainstormed a list of twists on traditional holiday family fun, making sure to include a range of big and small, as well as free and inexpensive activities. We invite you to try one every day as you count down to your big holiday celebration.
Who knows? You may even find a few things you want to make a permanent part of your holidays. Hey, traditions have to start somewhere, right?
Advent-ures in food
- Pull out that cookie recipe you thought looked too complicated and give it a try. (We believe in you!)
- Have a cookout in the cold…then go inside to enjoy the hot food.
- Invent a snack your favorite holiday character would like. Santa Sub? Grinch Chow? Tiny tater tots with their eyes all aglow?
- Make Reindeer Crunch for Santa’s reindeer. Eat it yourselves. Don’t tell Santa.
- Decorate a designated cookie plate for Santa with food-safe markers.
- Instead of sipping plain old hot cocoa, try some spicy Mexican hot chocolate. You can find Ibarra or Abuelita hot chocolate in many grocery stores.
- Or whip up some white hot cocoa, honey hot chocolate or set up a whole hot chocolate bar.
- Learn about Hanukkah and try your hand at making latkes.
- Or try a traditional holiday food from another culture: lutefisk, tamales and mince pies are just a few of the endless options.
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is great, but it’s not the only read-aloud option. Try The Best Christmas Pageant Ever or another holiday classic instead.
- See The Nutcracker in whatever genre you vibe with—ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz or contemporary.
- Put some oompah in your holidays with a Tuba Christmas performance. Or look for a holiday concert by the Lesbian and Gay Band Association.
- Skip the usual holiday pop, and relax or work together with Medieval or Renaissance Christmas music.
- Catch a handbell choir in action—live or online.
- Learn a carol from another language or culture. And while you’re enjoying a favorite holiday song, take a minute to learn about its history.
- Instead of a cookie exchange, have friends and their dogs over for a treat exchange.
- Take a holiday from holiday busy-ness and institute a family do-nothing day: Don’t shop, don’t wrap, don’t cook, don’t clean, don’t get out of your jammies…you get the idea.
- Add a signature touch: Gather around the table and add handwritten notes and family signatures to your holiday cards.
- Schedule a video call with someone special you won’t see in person this holiday season.
- Make up new, funny lyrics for a familiar holiday song. Record yourselves singing it and share for all to enjoy.
- Write and deliver a thank-you to your favorite barista, supermarket checker or someone else who brightens your day throughout the year.
- Plan a holiday scavenger hunt—around the house, around the neighborhood, or around the whole town!
- Use geography puzzles to help kids learn about states and countries Santa will visit, and follow Santa on NORAD.
- Have a tiny snowball fight with mini marshmallows. (Take the showdown outside if you’re worried about the mess.)
- Some homes have an elf who lurks around in December. Give yours something a little different: Penguin in the Pantry? Mouse in the House? Gingerbread Boy in the John? Doll on the Wall? Use your imagination!
Faith and spiritual advent-ures
- Attend a service at a different church or temple than you usually go to—or at a place of worship from a different faith tradition.
- Gratitude—it’s not just for Thanksgiving! Keep a holiday-season gratitude journal or post a “daily grateful” on social media.
- Take time out to pray for, or send good thoughts to, the people who mean the most to you.
- Meditate for ten minutes. (We all could use a little more holiday peace, right?)
- Instead of re-gifting, try “pre-gifting”: Buy something you love, then give it away. (Or donate the money you would have spent on it.)
- Choose meaningful stories, prayers or poems to read at family dinners in December.
- Light a candle for someone you find difficult. Say a prayer for them and think about their good qualities.
• Light a candle in honor of someone you’ve lost. Talk about what made that person special.
• Brainstorm together to make a wish list for the world and humankind.
• Send an out-of-the-blue card to your pastor or spiritual leader, thanking them for their dedication—especially at this busy time of year.
Advent-ures in creativity
- Make a paper-chain garland and write a wish for the coming year on each link. Or string a garland with something more than just popcorn or cranberries—pom-poms, decorated spools, corks (you’ll have to drill holes first), beads or a little of everything.
- Create a nativity scene using stuffed animals, action figures or candy. Post the results on social media so your friends can see.
- Instead of movie-watching night, how about movie-making night? Recreate a favorite scene or film or write (or improvise!) your own. Everyone gets a part. (Yes, even pets!)
- Three words: Pineapple Christmas Tree.
- Instead of cutting paper snowflakes, try folding origami doves.
- Build gingerbread-style houses out of graham crackers, using royal icing and candy.
Advent-ures in caring and kindness
- Choose a local charity to learn about. Make a commitment to volunteer there if you feel called to do so.
- Visit a care home and spend time talking, playing games, reading, decorating, writing letters or doing puzzles with residents.
- Make arrangements to host an international student who can’t go home for the holidays at your celebration.
- Caring challenge: Everyone pick five possessions to give away and go donate them together.
- Smile at, wave to or hug five people today. (Make sure the hugs are okay with them first.)
- Shop for a food bank while doing your family grocery shopping.
- Pick out a good cause to support with a monthly donation. Put your heads together to plan how you will budget for (or earn) the monthly amount.
Nature and outdoor advent-ures
- Download a stargazing app and take a look at Mother Nature’s holiday lights.
- Dress warm and go for a winter hike on a nearby trail. Make it as short or as long as you want, depending on the weather and everyone’s energy levels.
- Exercise your winter green thumb: Plant an Amaryllis or paperwhite bulb.
- Run or volunteer together at a holiday-themed 5K race.
- Visit a state or national forest to see some Christmas trees in their natural, wintry state.
Shop ChristmasSee all
You may also likeSee more
Recipes Say hello to summer with this pretty rosemary paloma cocktail
If summer had a single defining flavor, it would have to be citrus. From lemonade to key lime pie, that mouth-waterin...
Gifting All aboard for celebrating Disney’s 100th anniversary!
Keepsake Artist Gregor Benedetti reveals the Disney 100th Anniversary Special Edition Figurine, complete with lights ...
Anniversary Anniversary gifts by year
There are a lot of anniversary gift lists out there. Most hit the major milestones with traditional and modern the...
Arts, Crafts & DIY How to make a DIY money lei for graduations, weddings, birthdays and more
In Hawaii, people give leis to celebrate lots of different occasions. A money lei is a great way to celebrate a gr...
Birthday Summer birthday party ideas for everyone
Summer is a great time for outdoor get-togethers. You’re getting fresh air, seeing friends and family, and getting so...
Summer What is Disability Pride Month?: Understanding its importance and finding ways to celebrate
The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted July 26, 1990 and was the first law in U.S. history to protect people...
Christmas Celebrating 50 years of Keepsake Ornaments, Episode 2: Fueling Fandom
This month in our historical 50th Anniversary series, we take a look back at our earliest fan favorites. Keepsake Orn...
Calendar Flip A (Very) Warm Hello! August 2023 Holidays and Observances
Is it hot enough for you? Well, we’re here to add some extra sizzle. It’s time to flip the calendar page, check ou...
Calendar Flip Welcome Autumn! September 2023 Holidays and Observances
Fall brings cooler nights, cute sweaters, homecoming games and tailgate parties. It’s time to flip the calendar page,...
Calendar Flip Let’s celebrate, y’all! July 2023 Holidays and Celebrations
Get ready for friends, family and fireworks—and break out the red, white and blue for Independence Day. It’s time ...
Card Ideas Card messages for kids: What to write in a kid’s holiday card and more
My 3-year-old was having a hard time at preschool drop-off. Dragging his feet. Asking to stay home. This went on a fe...
Christmas Celebrating 50 years of Keepsake Ornaments, Episode 1: Start Dreaming!
2023 marks 50 years of Keepsake Ornaments. We are so excited to celebrate ALL year with ALL of you! Each month, you’l...
Birthday What to write in a birthday card
Some people have no problem coming up with what to write in a birthday card. Just hand them a pen and they’ll effortl...
Gifting 25+ “just because” gift ideas to show you care
I love giving gifts, and it’s easy to do it on birthdays and holidays. But when I really want to flex my gift-giving ...
Gift Wrapping How to use fabric wrap: A step-by-step guide for our reusable wrap
Don't you just love reusing gift bags? Well, now Hallmark has reusable gift wrap, too! Using it to wrap your gifts is...
Gift Wrapping 3 creative ways to reuse gift wrap scraps
Picture this: You’ve just finished wrapping a gift, you’re admiring your hard (but fabulous) work, and suddenly reali...
Arts, Crafts & DIY 8 tips on how to take great photos with your iPhone
Photos have been a huge part of capturing memories ever since cameras were invented. And these days, with advanced ca...
Recipes Cool drink recipes for your summer Golden Girls watch parties
We don’t know about you, but we love a good Golden Girls marathon. Maybe it’s the furniture covered in palm fronds. O...
Gifting Gift ideas to celebrate parents
How do you say “I love you” to parents that mean so much—the ones who’ve handled plenty of diaper changes (the really...
Gifting 10 creative ways to give cash
Whether it’s for a birthday, graduation, Christmas or just because you love them and think they deserve a special tre...