Weekend Creative | Advent Action Cards

I'm a big fan of Advent calendars.

Many of you have seen the Advent boxes I made back in 2007 (inspired by Martha). I'm currently looking for new place to hang them in our house. Last year we also had a LEGO® City Advent Calendarbecause they are just super fun for each morning. This year we're going to have both again + a little something else.

The little something else for 2010 are hand-drawn Advent cards with specific actions to be taken each day.

Here's a video that shows you what I did and talks a bit more about the project.

Ali Edwards | Advent Action Cards from Ali Edwards on Vimeo.

Here's the how-to for this project:


For each of the daily sentiments I wanted to head in the direction of answering this question: what things that can help our kids look beyond themselves and celebrate the season. That was my initial focus.

I want words that require action. I want activities that are developmentally appropriate. I want things that are fun. I want activities that invoke the spirit of the season. I also want to include a few fun traditions like looking at lights while drinking hot cocoa, getting our tree and visiting Santa.

I like the idea that these cards can act as a road map for the season. I like that each day Simon (with a little help from Anna) can pick out a card and it can steer us in a specific direction for the afternoon or evening.

Here's what I've come up with so far (I'd love to read your suggestions and ideas in the comments section):

  1. Tell a friend at school you think they're really cool.

  2. Take a special treat to a neighbor.

  3. Pick a name from the giving tree. Find a gift for that person.

  4. Make a small stocking. Drop it off on someone's door as a surprise.

  5. Make a card for a loved one and send it in the mail.

  6. Recycle some toys to share with others.

  7. Read a Christmas book to your sister.

  8. Light a candle and say a prayer for a loved one far away.

  9. Take food to a local food pantry.

  10. Take a trip to get the Christmas Tree.

  11. Go see Santa.

  12. Go look at Christmas lights & drink hot cocoa.

  13. Make thank you notes before they are needed.

  14. Write a list of 10 things you are thankful for this year. Share with your Grandma


Doris, one of the super creative members of the Designer Digitals team, used the PNG files on top of photos to create this set of Advent cards that she'll be hanging on some branches in her home. She originally emailed asking me to make some more hand-drawn Christmas boxes where the words were farther down on the box - leaving room for a cute face. Thanks for the inspiration Doris!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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  1. Home for the Holidays | Wendolonia

    2010-11-29 10:35:00 -0500

    [...] Some of these are things we do every year and I also pulled some of the ideas from Kiddley, Kid’s Craft Weekly and Ali Edwards. [...]

  2. Jess

    2010-11-30 23:32:03 -0500

    Ali, I know this is a beginner question, but I can't seem to find the answer out there. I bought the advent boxes download. I dragged them all into a 8.5x11 PSE blank doc. Now how do I get them to print full resolution. I know that there is a trick to it somehow. :) If you can tell me quickly or direct me to a link where this is explained I'd be grateful. Adobe's website "help" is no help at all.

  3. Digital Scrapbook Layouts by Nicole LeBlanc: ADVENT ACTION CARDS | Business-Supply Blog

    2010-12-04 07:30:34 -0500

    [...] got this idea from Ali Edwards, found here.We began the weekend before Thanksgiving and [...]

  4. st. valentine LOVE notes

    2011-01-31 20:31:33 -0500

    [...] this valentine’s season with some notes of love.  we both used ali edwards’ super cool action advent cards this past Christmas, so we thought we would try to do the same thing for Valentine’s [...]

  5. Mallory

    2011-11-05 09:06:55 -0400

    Ali, I love this idea!! I can't wait until my son is older so we can do something like this.

  6. Kelly Libby

    2011-11-08 10:05:42 -0500


    Another idea: Bake goodies for a senior center or group home? Who doesn't love home-made treats at the holidays!

    Christmas traditions of friends/other cultures/foreign countries? That might be neat?

  7. Gina Bowers

    2011-11-08 13:06:08 -0500

    I LOVE this whole idea and my kids are teenagers - I think it still works because it encourages stewardship. How about writing a letter to a soldier or to an elderly family member? I will most likely have one that says "Make dinner for the family" since my kids are older.

    It also occurred to me that these will fit very nicely in the December Daily album, another reminder of what occurred that day.

    Thanks Ali for sharing your great ideas :)

  8. Jessica

    2011-11-08 17:05:51 -0500

    We have a nursing home nearby and I stopped in a few weeks ago to ask if they would be interested in any kid craft creations for the rooms of some of their inhabitants who might not have much in the way of family. They literally JUMPED at the suggestion and we took over some fall themed stuff last week. We're going to make some crafts and take them over for the holiday season, too - i'm thinking button snowmen and christmas tree pinecones! It will be on our advent list.
    Another great activity - esp if you live in an urban area - is to make up some "comfort packs" for the homeless (mini shampoo, deoderant, razor, soap, kleenex, tea or coffee packs, maybe a warm hat or gloves - Target has plain black winter hats for two bucks!) and then put them in your car to hand out if you see someone in need. Kids have fun putting the items in the bags and I can testify that the recipients are SO appreciative. And once you see someone break into a huge grin at the propsective of their own little bottle of shampoo, you'll be so, so glad you helped these people in a productive way.

  9. Designer Digitals Quarterly Sale On Now | Ali Edwards

    2011-11-12 06:00:24 -0500

    [...] Advent Action Cards | Read a post about my ideas for using these here. [...]

  10. Megan

    2011-11-13 12:21:03 -0500

    I know this post was a few days ago, however, I loved reading all the ideas and cannot resist sharing what we have done. A beautiful advent calendar was given to my family last year. The problem is we have two kids under two and most items that fit in the little pockets are choking hazards. Although I grew up with a chocolate treat in my advent calendars I feel that my kids are too young for that and we eat enough extras at the holidays. I wanted to avoid the commercialism aspect of Christmas and adding more "stuff" to our already full lives. So I came up with our reading Advent calendar. I made a list of all our Christmas books, put them in a basket and typed the titles on cute paper. We randomly fill te pockets of our calendar with these book titles plus a few favorite like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and on weekends I'll add a holiday movie. We all look forward to the story we enjoy together and it will be entertainment year after year without adding more cost and stuff to our holidays.

  11. Advent Crazy | Wendolonia

    2011-11-28 09:31:11 -0500

    [...] some are ideas I’ve collected online (sources: Kiddley, Kid’s Craft Weekly, Family Fun and Ali Edwards). I repeated a lot of the activities from the list I came up with last year, but I’ve added a [...]

  12. Advent Calendar Ideas - #Christmas Crafts | 7 on a Shoestring

    2011-11-28 21:54:13 -0500

    [...] aliedwards.com via Staci on [...]

  13. December Daily 2011: Graham Cracker Houses

    2011-12-19 02:42:43 -0500

    [...] December Daily 2011: Day 15 By Yolanda Lockhart-Howe | Published December 18, 2011 Thanks for stopping by! intrinsic images is a personalized photography business, specializing in lifestyle portraits and small events in North San Diego County. If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on our latest sessions and offerings.Powered by WP Greet Box WordPress PluginA simple page capturing our advent traditions. The top image is of our advent cups, going strong for the third year in a row. I honestly think that these cups are at least 80% responsible for my managing to plan special activities throughout December. The pots are seed pots from IKEA that were 3 for $1. They are decorated with number stickers and some decoupaged paper. They are my version of a set of hanging posts sold at Garnet Hill called “Buckets of Joy.” Each day I place a small toy, treat, or clue to an activity inside and Lyra opens it first thing in the morning. Next year, I’d like to use some of these Advent Action Cards from Ali Edwards. [...]

  14. Gift Suggestion 2012 | Kiwi Crate Crafty Christmas | Ali Edwards

    2012-11-06 06:01:12 -0500

    [...] When my sister and niece were here last week the crate arrived while Anna was at school. Gabrielle helped Katie and I open it up to check out the fun contents – we’ll be waiting until December to actually work on the crafts (will likely use it as an Advent activity). [...]

  15. Beckie

    2012-11-13 11:04:44 -0500

    Love all these ideas. So much better than gift giving everyday. Acts of service are great for our kids to learn early!

  16. » Bookish & Craftastic Advent Ideas Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources

    2012-11-29 23:04:25 -0500

    [...] aliedwards.com via Melissa Taylor, ImaginationSoup.net on [...]

  17. Cecilia

    2012-12-01 00:37:07 -0500

    Just came across this in Pinterest. What a great idea! My children are 3 and 5 and for the past few years I had been doing a toy countdown calendar. Fun, but it made me feel that I was adding to the sense of self-entitlement of my kids, rather than make them aware of the real reason for the season. Last year I added an activity calendar to the toy one, and it was so successful that my kids don't even remember the toy one anymore... just to say that they would rather do something fun together than get a cheap inky-dinky toy, ah! This year I plan on adding a daily act of selflessness to the regular activity calendar and nix the toy one. I love your suggestions. I think also sending a drawing to a far away relative or call them on the phone is something I will add to mine...

  18. Carrie

    2012-12-01 17:44:13 -0500

    Instead of making gingerbread houses, make Christmas trees out of ice cream cones and candy. (the waffle cones)

  19. Acts of kindness | 3CityGirlsNyc

    2012-12-21 09:23:38 -0500

    [...] advent action cards Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted in Christmas, Crafts, DIY, Holidays, inspiration, kids | Tagged advent csrds acts of kindness [...]

  20. Night Tree – A New Holiday Tradition | Eva Varga

    2013-04-30 23:00:49 -0400

    [...] they share a felt pocket calendar that we hand-stitched ourselves.  Within each pocket is an advent action card that reveals a special holiday activity or special [...]

  21. Our Scandinavian Holiday Traditions | Eva VargaEva Varga

    2013-05-20 20:31:00 -0400

    [...] a favorite holiday activity is noted.  To create our customized Advent Calendar, I used simple Advent Action Cards designed by Ali Edwards.  The activity noted on the card can be simple (read a favorite holiday [...]

  22. Krista

    2013-11-24 18:36:42 -0500

    Love the ideas here. I came across this post last year & thought about incorporating some into our daily activities this year.


  23. Vanessa Babin

    2013-11-24 21:33:28 -0500

    My sisters, nieces and I make pralines (a recipe from my grandmother) every year the weekend before Christmas while the great grandchildren decorate a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. We have been doing a Charlie Brown tree for over 30 years.
    I also decorate a gingerbread house with my grandchildren and they also help us decorate the outside of the house including putting up our nativity scene in the yard.

  24. Karen Watson

    2013-11-25 01:34:31 -0500

    LOVE LOVE LOVE.......that is all!!

  25. Stephanie Hackney

    2013-11-25 01:52:13 -0500


    Love the way you're making your Advent Calendar.

    I just finished on for a special little girl and will be making another one tomorrow for two sisters. I'll have pictures posted, with a quick tutorial, on the blog this week.

    I was a military brat and my parents didn't have much money, but they definitely instilled the spirit of giving in me (year-round).

    Here are some of the things we did as a family:
    -Buy and donate toys to Toys For Tots
    -Hand down my nice dresses (made by my mom) to those who were less fortunate so they had nice clothes for the holiday and beyond.
    -Read the Christmas Story
    -Attend Midnight Mass

    My mom and I also:
    -Made bread dough ornaments
    -Baked German Christmas goodies (and gave many away)
    -Attended the Christkindtmarkt (Christmas Market)

    As adults, my husband and I have:
    -Donated toys to Toys for Tots
    -Donated toys to our local (police dept.) toy drive
    -Adopted a family and bought (and wrapped) gifts for them
    -Made or bought goodies for the local firehouse
    -"Secretly" bought drinks for other Starbuck's customers
    -Bought (10) $5 gift cards and handed them out to homeless people we saw while out running errands, Christmas shopping, etc.
    -Hosted an ornament exchange (OK, this was me, not my husband!)
    -Made specialty candy for family and friends and sent it out in tins (this is a popular thing among our friends!)
    -Donated money to the Salvation Army (money in the red kettles!)
    -Watched our favorite holiday movies
    -Attended a Christmas concert
    -Gone to see a new blockbuster movie (this year: The Hobbit!)
    -Brought cookies and candy to the post office workers on Christmas Eve day
    -Left treats for our mailman
    -Tipped our landscaper, hair stylists, etc.

    This year we will do a few of the above in addition to:
    -Make goodies and drop them off at our local Senior Citizens home
    -Buy blankets to hand out to the homeless
    -Donate shoes to the local shoe drive
    -Bring a hot drink to a local Salvation Army bell ringer
    -Take a donation to our local children's hospital - for the staff who are working over the holidays
    -"Ornament Bomb" a neighbor's trees! (I've never done this, but I so want to!!!)

    Hopefully some of these ideas will be options or spark your imagination with others.

    Happy Holidays to you, Katie, Simon and Anna.


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