Low-Cost Advent Ideas

When it comes to choosing an advent calendar for the holiday season, there really is no shortage of options! Today I wanted to outline some of my favorite ways to count down to Christmas without spending a bunch of extra time or money.  Check out these low-cost advent ideas!

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First and foremost, we have the classic wrapped-book advent.  This is a classic for a reason!  However, if wrapping 24 to 25 Christmas books isn’t high on your list of ways you’d like to spend your time, consider creating a “magic book basket.”  

You can put all of the books in the bottom of the basket, then put a place mat on top of the stack.  Choose one book to put on top of the place mat and then cover it with an additional place mat.  In the morning, your child can check under the top place mat for that day’s book, without being able to see the rest of the books in the basket.  Then you repeat the process each day.

If you’re worried your child is a little young to leave the book basket alone, you could store the books somewhere else and just add one book to the basket (or even a gift bag) every day.

Not sure you have enough books? Check your local library for some free options.


Who doesn’t love a corny joke every now and then?  How about a corny joke every day for 24 days in a row?  A pile of Christmas jokes is the perfect low-cost advent activity!

I have a free download with two sizes of joke strips – one set is perfect for tucking into an advent calendar or gluing to craft sticks.  The other set is perfect for creating a paper chain to count down the days to Christmas.  Just click here to download the large color set or click here to download the small black and white set.


Each day, you can have your child unwrap a piece of your family’s nativity set.  I haven’t seen many nativity scenes that have 24 pieces, so you could either start this later in the month or alternate your nativity pieces with a scripture, a wrapped trinket or small piece of candy.


Listening to music is the perfect way to count down the days to Christmas!  You could choose one Christmas song and listen to a different variation of it each day (this is really easy to do on Amazon Music).  That sounds like a weird idea, but it’s actually fun to compare and contrast the different renditions of common Christmas songs.  

Counting Down to Christmas with Handel's Messiah advent

My favorite advent idea that involves music is the Handel’s Messiah advent calendar.  I listen to a few selections from Handel’s Messiah each day and read the corresponding scripture(s). It’s the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit!  I created a printable calendar to help me stay on track, and I have it available to download here.


Many people like to read a specific portion of scripture during the holiday season. Since St. John has 24 chapters, you could read that particular account of the Savior’s life – one chapter a day until Christmas.


There are SO many 24-piece puzzles at Dollar Tree! Grab a holiday-themed puzzle and give your child one piece per day until the picture is complete. You could even write a scripture or quote on the back of each puzzle piece. An easy way to store the puzzle-in-progress would be on a cookie sheet or similar tray. You could also attach magnets to the backs of the pieces and display the puzzle on your refrigerator.

If you don’t mind spending a small amount of money, this wooden Nativity puzzle would be perfect! It comes with its own tray, so it would be easy to keep tabs on the puzzle-in-progress during the month.


There are basically a gazillion advent coloring pages that you can download for free on MANY websites. Just Google “advent coloring pages” and you’ll see TONS of options for counting down to Christmas. Some sites have 24 unique coloring pages while others have pages with 24 items to color. Take your pick!


Give your family the chance to count down to Christmas by completing traditional December activities together as a family. Create a holiday bucket list with 24 items and then complete one activity per day until Christmas. Looking for some bucket list inspiration? My Bucket List Bingo printables would be great!


It really does cost nothing to be kind! Performing one act of kindness daily as part of your low-cost advent calendar is a great way to get in the Christmas spirit! A free printable calendar that outlines many ideas for acts of service during the holiday season can be found here, on the website for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although it is provided by a particular church, it is meant to be used by anyone looking for service ideas.

I hope these low-cost advent ideas will help you if you are looking for a fun but cheap way to count down the days to Christmas. If you would like to see which of these ideas my family chose, click on the image above to watch my advent video on YouTube, which is part of Vlogmas 2020.

I wish you and your family a happy holiday season!