Low-Key Advent Calendars for families looking for super easy and affordable ways to countdown to Christmas. These are really Easy Advent Calendars you can buy, simple count-downs you can DIY, and advents that make great gifts.
I am not the kind of mom who can handle 25 days of crafts and activities in a row. I'd like to blame it on my single-parent status, but if I'm being honest, I don't think I'd be that kind of mom even in the best of circumstances.
I've tried to do activity advent calendars in the past with my kids and we always petered out by day four or five, and then I just felt bad for the rest of the month. I don't even bother anymore. We just won't have 25 days of ice skating and cookie making at our house, and that's that.
But, I think advent calendars are so fun and I love the anticipation of counting down to the big day. So, in recent years, we've been doing some very low-key advent calendars as a family.
For an advent calendar to work for me, it needs to be something that requires little to no effort after the initial purchase/set up. I'm also looking for advent calendars that we can do as a family, or that are VERY inexpensive if I'm going to get one for each of my children.
Here's what we've come up with! (Note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links).
Low Key Advent Calendars for Families
This is the absolute easiest advent calendar of all. My mom has emailed this to my kids the last few years and it is always a huge hit.
It's all online (no complicated downloads or software needed) and it has a fun animated story or activity for every day in December leading up to Christmas. The graphics are beautiful and the music and animations are fantastic. This year, the scene is London, the bustling capital city and we're so excited about it! It's going to be so good!
This is very inexpensive, only $5, and it gets cheaper if you're buying more than two. This is fun for kids of all ages, even really young kids. It makes a really simple and inexpensive gift for grandkids/friends/family and we highly recommend it!
You can watch a little video over on the Jacquie Lawson website and it will give you a good sense of what it's like.
I ordered this fun Christmas Village Advent Calendar this year for my kids to share. There is an envelope for each day with everything you need to build a little addition to the village. We are big fans of KiwiCo and have been subscribers for years.
You don't have to be a KiwiCo subscriber to get this advent calendar. You can just order it as a one time box in the KiwiCo store. But, if you are a subscriber, you can get free shipping when you order this holiday box.
I have a feeling that this one will be a big hit at our house this year.
This is part of Rad and Happy's Color Happy subscription, which is a monthly subscription of amazing downloadable/printable color sheets for $5 a month. This month you can download this adorably simple color countdown as well as 19 other color pages (which include some Thanksgiving printables as well). You can print as many as you like, so they make great gifts too! You can also color them digitally on an ipad too.
We've been subscribers for more than a year now and these color pages are so exciting for the kids every month. However, if you only want this Advent/Holiday pack, just subscribe and then cancel - it's very easy to cancel.
This is the Advent I'm most excited about this year! Each of the 25 candle slots on the wooden wreath are marked with a name for Christ, like Firstborn and Redeemer. Each day you light a candle to invite Christ into your holiday celebrations. It comes with both the wooden wreath and 25 candles.
Bonus! It also comes with a free download of scriptures you can print to read along with the candle lighting each day.
I bought this book to use with my kids this year and it is gorgeous! There are 25 flaps to lift on the front cover (why is lifting a flap so much more exciting than just turning pages?). There are some activities in this book that require a little more effort (a few recipes and a few crafts), but there are also a lot of pages that just have you sing a song, complete a search and find, or play a game. The little flaps on the front of the book give a small clue as to what that day's activity will be.
Honestly, the illustrations alone sold me. I'm really looking forward to sharing this with my kids this year!
Paper Chain Christmas Countdown
This seems really basic, and it is, but you'd be surprised how much fun it is for kids. My kids not only enjoy making the paper chains, but there's something very satisfying about ripping them off each day and watching the chain shrink.
All you really need for this one is paper and glue - and if your kids are old enough, you can let them do this one all on their own.
There's a lot of fun versions of this on Pinterest, but here are few cute and simple ones we like:
This is an absolutely WONDERFUL book! Written with 24 and a half chapters, it's designed to be read as an advent story beginning on December 1st. There are some low-key activities in the book you can do, or you can skip those and just read a chapter aloud as a family each day.
I wrote more about this book, and shared some pictures here. We read this last year in December and it was delightful!
These cost a little more money, but they're so fun and are very low-key advent calendars. Last year we used the LEGO City Advent Calendar, but there's also a LEGO Friends version, a LEGO Star Wars calendar, and even a Harry Potter version this year too!
My kids loved putting together a little LEGO creation each morning, and by Christmas they had a fun new set of LEGOs to add to their collection. I bought one for all of my kids to share, and that worked out just fine.
If you're looking for something more Christ-Centered to prepare for Christmas, I love this one. This is the low-key advent calendar we used last yea. It was a surprise in their December 1st Box, and it was a great way to focus on the more spiritual side of Christmas for a few minutes every day in December.
This one has a symbolic wooden ornament, along with a corresponding New Testament scripture story to read each day. You can get the ornaments unfinished and paint them yourself (this is a less expensive option), or you can buy them already painted and you're ready to go (this is the really low-key option).
Chocolate Advent Calendars
The chocolate advent calendar at Trader Joe's is only 99 cents, which is an unbeatable price if you want to buy them for multiple kids. The downside, however, is that they will sell out very quickly.
If you miss the TJ calendar, most grocery stores have pretty inexpensive chocolate advent calendars that you can pick up. Here are also a few good ones:
- The Peppermint Bark Advent Calendar from William Sonoma is delicious, but also pricey if you're buying more than one (you can get 20% off right now though!)
- The Downtown Abbey German Chocolate Advent Calendar from World Market - it's only $6.99 and delicious! This is the one I get for myself!
- The Christmas Market Chocolate Advent Calendar on Amazon is also only $6.99 and you can get free prime shipping if you're doing it last minute.
I did this last year and I think it was my favorite Advent Calendar of all. Just wrap up 25 holiday picture books (from your own collection, from the library, maybe a new book or two thrown in there as a surprise) and then unwrap and read one each day.
I have a list of our 25 Favorite Christmas Picture Books right here to get you started (I also have a new list of Christmas Picture Books for 2020 here)! Aside from the effort it takes to wrap all the books up, this would is a low-key advent calendars.
This is a cute Advent story book and at the end it has a lift-the-flap advent calendar. Bright colorful illustrations and a very cute Christmas story! This one is an especially low-key advent calendar for young kids.
This collaboration from Everyday Reading and Rad & Happy is AMAZING! You can print it as an engineer print for just a few dollars (there are smaller versions too) and your kids will love it.
You can color it as you count down, as well as do the reading activities that correspond to each number (things like "Read a book about a Reindeer," and "Read a Christmas book your parent loved"). This is so fun and it's FREE to download. She also has a new 2020 version this year that is really cute.
If your family is a fan of Harry Potter, this is an excellent choice! It's a gorgeous, high quality pop-up tree in the Hogwarts main hall. Each day you open a little flap with a new ornament (something symbolic from the books) to hang on the tree.
I like that this one is reusable, and it also comes with a small book with photos and behind the scenes info from the movies and books.
I don't have this one, but I really, really want it! I eye it every year, and one of these years I'll be able to make it happen. It's expensive (because real wool), but it would be a family heirloom, destined to be loved year after year.
Yes, you do have to make this one, but it looks pretty simple (and honestly, putting this together would be fun for me!). But, once it's assembled, you just pluck an ornament out of the pocket each day and stick it to the tree - super simple.