The holiday season is a time full of beauty, joy, and all the wonders that winter can offer! But for many, it’s also a time of religious celebration and anticipation of the Christmas holiday. Advent is a very special and sacred time for billions of people around the world. Whether you have fond memories of special Advent decorations around the house as a child or you’re simply looking for a new way to celebrate Christmas this year, a wooden Advent calendar could be the perfect solution!
If you’re unfamiliar with the traditions surrounding Advent and the use of Advent calendars, we’re here to help. In today’s guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about Advent and help you find the perfect decorative Advent calendar for your home, so let’s get started!
What is an Advent calendar?
An Advent calendar is a decorative display that celebrates each day in the season of Advent. It offers a fun and beautiful way for family and friends to make a note of each day in the season. It also builds excitement for the coming of Christmas!
Advent is the period leading up to Christmas Day, starting with the First Sunday of Advent. Much like other holidays and events that land on a specific day of the week (think Thanksgiving), the exact dates of the Advent calendar can vary from year to year. That said, you can always remember that Advent begins sometime between November 27th and December 3rd. For example, the Advent calendar for 2023 starts on Sunday, December 3rd, but it started on November 27th in 2022, and it will start on December 1st in 2024.
The start date of Advent aligns with the beginning of the Christian calendar, but the exact number of days in the Advent calendar varies each year. Advent always ends on Christmas Eve (December 24th), but as previously mentioned, the starting date can change each year. If you’re trying to figure out when Advent starts, a quick Google search will usually do the trick, but you can also do some simple math to find the date. Just take a look at your calendar and count the number of Sundays before Christmas. Once you get to the 4th Sunday, that’s the beginning of Advent!
How many days are in an Advent calendar?
So if the beginning dates for Advent are always changing, when do you start an Advent calendar? Fortunately, when it comes to Advent calendars, things are much more uniform than the religious season of Advent. Advent calendars are decorative by nature, and it simply wouldn’t make much sense to have calendars that need to be altered all the time. For this reason, the standard Advent calendar has 24 days, beginning on December 1st and ending on December 24th. Some calendars may have 25 days to include Christmas Day, though this style of calendar is far less common.
How does an Advent calendar work?
Advent calendars don’t actually start at the very beginning of Advent (at least not always). Instead, they start on December 1st. This makes it easy to know exactly when to set up your Advent calendar and when to start counting down the days until Christmas. But if you’re wondering how to use an Advent calendar, you’re not alone! Advent calendars are a really neat and fun way to celebrate with your family (especially the little ones) because they’re essentially a daily reminder that you’re in the midst of the Christmas season!
Most Advent calendars feature little pockets or small compartments that can be opened. Each door represents a day in December. Depending on the design of your calendar, each door may have a number associated with the date. If this is the case, you can open one door each day, with the number of the door corresponding to the date in December. This activity continues until you’ve opened the final door on Christmas Eve!
What really makes Advent calendars special is that they become a fun family activity. Most people don’t just open an Advent calendar door in passing. Instead, the act of opening a door each day becomes a cozy ritual, often celebrated with friends and family. Since there’s a special (often secret) item behind each door, it makes each opening more exciting!
What to put in an Advent calendar
You’ll definitely want to put some thought into the items you put inside your Advent calendar, but what you do in the end will depend on your preferences and who you’ll be opening the calendar doors with. If you’re flying solo this season, you might decide to put little chocolates or candies for yourself to enjoy (this is also a great option if you have kids). If candy isn’t your thing, you might create hand-written notes of encouragement or quotes that have a special meaning to you or your family.
For couples, it can be really fun to make homemade gifts for one another. This way, you can open a door and receive a gift on Day 1, and then your spouse can open a door and receive a gift on Day 2. You can keep trading off days until you’ve both given each other 12 little (but meaningful) gifts!
If you’re still stumped on what to put in your Advent calendar this year, we can help you out! Just remember that each drawer or pocket is tiny, so the gifts need to be very small as well. Be sure to measure the compartments before you create or purchase any Advent calendar gifts. With that in mind, here are a few ideas to consider:
- Toys: Oftentimes, it’s the kids who get the most out of Advent calendars. Putting small toys behind each door can make the “opening ceremony” that much more fun for the little ones!
- Activity Cards: Need activities to keep the family entertained until Christmas? Write down games and other fun group activities to do for each day of Advent!
- Holiday Pins: Whether you buy them from the store or make them yourself, holiday-themed pins are a great Advent calendar filler. You and your family members can wear them around the house with joy!
- Gift Cards: If you want to have a different member of the family open each Advent calendar door, you can put mini gift cards inside as a fun surprise!
- Christmas Tree Ornaments: Using tiny homemade Christmas tree ornaments in your Advent calendar can help you slowly “complete” your Christmas tree leading up to Christmas day.
- Puzzle Pieces: Want to add a little mystery to your Advent calendar? Use a 24-piece puzzle and put each piece behind a different door. Many Nativity puzzles are specifically designed with 24 pieces for this purpose!
How to decorate a wooden Advent calendar
There are a million different ways to decorate an Advent calendar, and some of the options you choose will depend on the basic design. All of our wooden Advent calendars leave plenty of room for customization. You can add paint or glitter to yours to turn it into a holiday wonderland, write numbers on each opening, or even allow each member of your family to design their own doors. You can even use wood glue to attach different items to the top of your calendar, from snowmen and carolers to Nativity scene decorations!
Did you enjoy our wooden Advent calendar guide? Be sure to let us know in the comments and check out our wooden Advent calendar shop to find the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one!