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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143 thoughts

  1. Marisa says…

    These are great. We don't do Advent calendars, but I might do these just for fun!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Allisa says…

    I love this idea & hope to make something like it...what a clever & thoughtful twist.

    One 'action' I love to do every year during the holidays is something I've done since high school. We bake cookies & wrap them up in little packages (usually cling wrap so people know what they are). We hand them out to homeless people & people in need we come across during the season.

    Some of the most humbling & rewarding experiences have come from this & the response has always been one of thankfulness.

    thanks for your inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Trisha Harrison says…

    Just bought these last night they are simply beautiful Ali !! love it !! I can't wait to create something with them .... you ROCK !!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Renee says…

    Ali - what a beautiful way to make the season. I find it is very helpful for us as we head into Christmas to have an Advent Calendar. We live in the tropics so getting into Christmas without a change in temperature can be a little challenging. A few of the activities we had on our calendar last year that are different from yours are: 1. Reading or watching a favorite Christmas Story 2. Make paper snowflakes 3. Have a holiday sing along 4. Go for a walk and look at the stars.
    I intersperse special holiday gifts (like new movies or books) throughout as well as charitable actions similar to what you have listed. We try to focus on the giving thanks for all of this rather than the give me something aspect that so frequently creeps into the holiday.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Sally says…

    Another great idea Ali. I love that many of the cards are service-oriented. A great life-lesson for our kids!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Tweets that mention Weekend Creative | Advent Action Cards | Ali Edwards -- Topsy.com says…

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    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Deb J says…

    What a great idea. I have been trying to decide what I could do different to put in our Advent Calendar drawers. This is a great idea. One idea I will be doing is making a card for doing a Random Act of Kindness for someone--like paying the bill for someone behind me at a drive through or whatever.

    Allisa, your idea about sharing goodies with homeless people and people in need is great.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Allyson MacLeod says…

    Great idea, Ali. One thing my daughter and I do every year is make home made dog cookies and give them out at our outdoor Christmas eve church service which many people walk to from the neighborhood and bring their dogs. Its fun to remember our special 4 legged friends!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Rebekah Pontow says…

      Love this one - you could also take them to your local HUmane Society too!

  9. Carol Zeitz says…

    These are beautiful and I love the actions on the cards that are outward-looking - helping others, being nice, etc. We celebrate Chanukah in our home but I can adapt this so easily with a color change. And we can each choose a card during the 8 days. Fabulous Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Jill says…

    Hey Ali -

    This is too crazy - earlier this afternoon (before reading your post) I was walking back to my office after getting my pm coffee while at work and thought - I want to do an Advent calendar this year. It's a tradition I loved as a child (opening the windows of the *same* Advent calendar year after year), and something I miss as a single adult. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years has been a tough time for me attitude-wise for quite a few years (making a holiday daily the last 3 years has really helped - thanks!), and I find I need a "little help from my friends" more than ever. So, just before reading your project post I sent an email to 2 close friends asking if they'd like to do a shared Advent activity. I proposed that we individually come up with 25 different intentions and/or activities that can be accomplished in one day and either keep a set amount of our own and trade a set amount between us, or split up our own and trade so we have none of our own. Sort of a "fresh ideas" approach to thinking about Advent. I love that we could come up with 75 unique ideas between the 3 of us. I'm super excited about this - and I'm pretty sure they will be game for it, too!

    Here's to sharing ideas to celebrate Advent! Love your plan :)

    Reply 4 Replies
    1. pidge says…

      As another single person, I thought this idea was AWESOME! What a wonderful way to look "out" and share with others!

    2. Ali says…

      So cool Jill :).

    3. Annemiek says…

      What a great idea Jill. Just watching the video made me decide to make an Advent calendar for myself. I have to see if I can include some friends.

    4. Brittany says…

      Jill - would you be willing to share your list of 75?

  11. sarah says…

    Love this Ali, we have done 25 acts of kindness for a few years now, and I love the way this is formatted...will definately be incorporating this aspect into what we do.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Advent Calendar Goodies - Digital Scrapbooking Community - DesignerDigitals says…

    [...] my word...just saw Anna Aspnes tweet about Ali Edwards blog post on Advent Action Cards. Alie uses her Advent Boxes Brushes and Stamps Ali said: ENCOURAGING OUR KIDS TO LOOK BEYOND [...]

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  13. MonicaB says…

    We have done many different advent calendar in the past, most recently the LEGO ones have been the calendar. I've been thinking of making one with action instead of toys/candy and I really love this idea.

    One thing we do (not always at Xmas) but we go through our books and take the ones we no longer need to the library.

    We make real Hot Cocoa, not the powder mix.

    Bake our traditional holiday bread

    Look up facts on Christmas traditions

    Thanks for the great ideas Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Sheri B says…

    Just wanted to say what a great project! We currently have fun with an advent calendar I made with a Making Memories kit from a few years back, but I've been thinking of creating a new advent calendar to add to this year, and I love the service oriented ideas you've shared! Love the video too, it really brings the project to life and helps get some ideas flowing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Olivia says…

    Bake Christmas cookies and deliver some to friends and neighbors.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. SusanB says…

    I so love the Advent season and our family has been doing activities like this since our daughters (now 16 & 18) were toddlers. One of the things that we like to do is take a walk around our neighborhood in the dark; we bundle up, take a look at the stars and the lights in our neighbors' yards, talk and just enjoy being together. We usually have hot chocolate and cookies when we come back home. Another thing that my girls request every year is to watch the videos of our Christmases past. It's a little bittersweet for me to see visual proof of how quickly time passes and to see people on the videos who are no longer with us but it's another Advent tradition we wouldn't think of skipping. I know that these are not as service-minded as the activities you mentioned but they give us time to enjoy each other's company and have fun together. With a daughter away at college our traditions will change a little this year but we'll still have some time before Christmas to indulge in our some of our usual celebrations. Thanks for your inspiration Ali!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      Video is something I'd really like to do this Christmas - especially in terms of looking back. Love that.

  17. Erika Bates says…

    These are so fun Ali!

    A couple of ideas that we have done:

    -create a holiday card to send to a military servicemember
    -research and try holiday traditions from other lands (we've tried a bunch from the British Isles since that is our heritage and its been really fun)
    Thanks for all your ideas!

    Reply 3 Replies
    1. Brittany says…

      Erika - would you be willing to share some of the traditions you have tried in the past?

    2. Amy says…

      As a military spouse, thank you! We've been apart for the holidays and appreciate those who remember it's hard to be far from those you love. Check out Operation Write Home if you haven't heard of them if you want information about sending blank cards to troops overseas to use to write home with. :)

    3. Vanessa Babin says…

      I love the idea of the Christmas card to the military. I did that before, but I think I will get my grandson to write one this year! Thanks for reminding me to do that again.

  18. Pam says…

    Ali, this is a wonderful idea! I love that you are including service oriented activities. Working in an elementary school, I am constantly reminded of the "me-me" approach most children have towards Christmas. This is an excellent way to reenforce the ideals we want our children to have. Thank you for all of your inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. anneberit says…

    I love these, and the thought behind.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Denise says…

    I don't do advent calendars, but these would make cute little tags for the preschool my DD goes to.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Stacy P. says…

    LOVE this idea! As a family we ring bells for the Salvation Army every year. We choose a date well in advance due to the craziness of the season (add to that both of my children's birthdays are the week before Christmas!) and the desire to have an indoor or heated location, however you can just stop and ring bells at any kettle if you see it is unmanned. Other ideas... giving a secret santa gift to someone, donating new or gently used books to the shelters, make cut-out cookies and take them to an assisted living home (many nursing homes have strict diet rules), go to a nursing home and sing carols, do a holiday skit or offer to decorate a small tree for a resident that doesn't have family near by. Offer to walk an elderly neighbors dog (or any neighbor for that matter)...

    Thank you Ali for bringing me into the holiday season this year. It will be a tough one for our family having just lost my mother-in-law but having the December Daily book and the advent cards will be a huge help in getting us through the holidays.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. dawn says…


    I love these cards and the idea for them. Thank you for another cool holiday idea and will put these in our DD album. What I do with our kids is make a paper chain of red & green and the hang it in the kitchen. The red ones are things to do at home the green are things to do outside of home or to take to a family/neighbor kinda thing. We do most of the ideas you listed and the other commenters. We also include a secret santa one during the week off from school and they do secret things leading up to Christmas day and revealing ourselves that morning, this one is the kids favorite one to do. We also make ornaments for the tree and watch Christmas movies by the tree lights. Thanks for this again Ali. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Alison Exelby says…

    Love these cards Ali, such a great idea.
    Every year my boys give a christmas card to all the kids in their classroom and teacher, often there will be kids that they dont play with much through out the year but they still write a card for everyone so that no one is left out. We also do some sort of christmas baking for the class, last year we made candy cane reindeer, this year we are making reindeer cakepops, everyone in the class get ones of these two

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. mandee mattioli says…

    I love this idea. We do some sort of this thing too, but not every day in December. I love the way this is formatted! I am definitely going to work this in.

    Some of the things that we do are:

    1. Make hand/foot print plates at a local pottery shop. I do a plate every year for each child. Then we use the plates for Christmas dinners and trays. It is so fun to see their little hands and feet in the later years. I will have 3 sets when the kids are older and plan on giving them to each child when he/she starts their own family.

    2. Find our old coats and deliver them to the local coat drive for the homeless

    3. Make Christmas cookies

    4. Open Christmas jammies... always on December 24th

    5. Go to Starbucks or the local coffee shop and have a "holiday" drink with cookies

    6. Serve at a local homeless shelter... have yet to do this one as my oldest is only 3 1/2... but plan on adding this one in

    7. Wrap Christmas presents for others or make wrapping paper for presents... stamps and brown paper bags (a good way to recycle those bags or you can get it in the rolls if you use re-usable bags like we do)

    8. Make Christmas ornaments

    9. Make Grandma and Grandpa's Christmas presents... we always make them something each year, usually something with handprints and a photo

    10. Shovel the snow for the neighbors... they are the most lovely older couple in their 70's

    These are just a few of the things we do... I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Jackie Bremer says…

    I love your idea and the prompts - it is a special way to keep the meaning of Christmas in focus. I am eager to try them.

    FIRST though - I am trying to print the December Daily overlays using the PDF format. I cannot get it to scale correctly - there is no "scale" feature on my printer. I have an HP LaserJet P1006 and also a Canon MP 620. Any ideas?

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. kristin t says…

      Do you use photoshop? there is a scale option when you choose "print with preview" in photoshop. Also, if you open the pdf in Adobe Reader, when you choose "print," the dialog box has a Page Scaling option there. hth :)

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