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:

ENCOURAGING OUR KIDS TO LOOK BEYOND THEMSELVES

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

ANOTHER COOL IDEA

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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144 thoughts

  1. joellen says…
    11/06/2010

    make a bird a treat out of a pine cone, pnut butter and birdseed!

    love the idea!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      I think Simon would like this idea...and I like that we can talk about doing something nice for animals.

  2. joellen says…
    11/06/2010

    make a special bookmark for your favorite storybook

    give your favorite neighborhood pet a christmas present

    sing a song outside at night to a shining star and remember loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate with us.

    write a love note and put in under the pillow of someone in the family

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Carolyn says…
    11/06/2010

    I ordered a little advent calendar kit yesterday from sweetwaterscrapbook on etsy. They are little fabric pouches with iron-on numbers. All hang on a rope. I thought they were super cute and look fairly easy to sew. Then I saw your idea and knew what I would put inside the pouches! Along with a little treat on some days.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. leah a says…
    11/06/2010

    This is great Ali. You could go to a retirement home with cookies and sing carols to he elderly (this would probably be easier with a large group of people)...

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Brooke says…
    11/06/2010

    I'm really looking forward to an advent calendar this year. Previously I've tucked little notes and/or treats into tiny socks pegged to some ribbon. I'm also determined to get my son that Lego advent one year. I've finally found it for sale in Australia. He's a little too young at the moment, but my hubby sure would love it!!

    A couple of ideas (suitable for a 2 year old):
    - turn up the Christmas music & dance (I got this from a comment on your December Daily post)
    - wrap gifts (sometimes it can be a quick process, might be fun to enjoy it more)
    - watch snow fall (our Christmas is in summer so as dorky as this is I'm hoping we can do this on YouTube!!)
    - ice Christmas cookies
    - make a Christmas card for Daddy's lunchbox

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Brooke says…
    11/06/2010

    Just watched the video and have an idea more specific to Simon. Maybe one day he could think of his own act of kindness. Complete it himself and then tell you in the evening what the act was and how he went about completing it. Maybe you could call it "My Secret Act of Kindness".

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/07/2010

      That's a really great idea Brooke - thank you.

  7. Linda Trace says…
    11/07/2010

    what a beautiful idea!!

    Something I think is lovely and really in the spirit of Christmas is for kids to offer toys that they haven't used all year (or much of the year) to homeless or donate to charity. I think given that we receive SO much at Christmas, it's lovely to have our children offer something up too to someone with nothing.

    What about helping to bake cookies or some kind of Christmas cake/food and take it to a homeless shelter/soup kitchen ON christmas morning/christmas eve? (With mum and dad of course!)

    Another idea is to ask your child, if you couldn't get any presents on Christmas, what would make it just as wonderful? (To help move them away from the physical aspect of receiving and think of more emotional/family-oriented terms)

    can't wait to bring this into my home this Christmas!!

    thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Jen D says…
    11/07/2010

    Ali I love these videos you are doing! I really like this idea- I'm looking forward to doing these with my daughter. We are always trying to teach her about giving to others, especially during the Holidays
    Some of the ideas I think I might include:
    -Go to the library to pick out a new Christmas story to read
    -Go on our annual shopping trip to buy presents for Adopt a Family
    -Make a Christmas present/craft for your sister
    -Go sledding

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Kim Brown says…
    11/07/2010

    Go to your local library and pick out some new holiday books to read.
    Create cards/jokes for kids. You could take a next year calendar and write days to send, so they don't just get them through the holiday season.
    create a gift for your teacher together

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Leslie P says…
    11/07/2010

    This is so cool. I just made a flip advent calendar with activities. Some activities are decorate the house day 1 and day 2 decorate the tree. Sing Christmas carols by candle light around the fireplace, have hot cocoa for breakfast, wrap presents for the outreach program, and sort food for the outreach program (a program for county residents that may be having a hard time), bake for neighbors (homebound), make ornaments for patients in the hospital, and go to lighted Christmas parade. These are just a few. Reading the comments there are some things I forgot that we normally do. Loved this post.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Denise Laborde says…
    11/07/2010

    Very nice Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Susi says…
    11/07/2010

    Thank you so much for making and sharing this video. I am very visual and learn best by watching someone do the task and then doing it myself. I love the idea of a service oriented activity. We tried to teach our sons to think of others by doing similar activities and I do believe it is a seed that grows because I have two very compassionate adult sons. I am going to make this project for us this year and some day share it with my future grandchildren.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Scrappyjen says…
    11/07/2010

    call a grandparent and tell them how much you love them.

    make a Christmas card, put $5 dollars inside, and post in a random letter box

    read a Christmas story to and elderly person

    do something nice for a sibling (make a treat, help with their chores, write a letter) just because you can.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Lisa W. says…
    11/07/2010

    Ali, wonderful idea. After reading your project idea, and watching the video. Several things came to mind. How about visiting a nursing home with your children, maybee some of Simons friends/classmates, a few of them could go along. I used to work in a nursing home, they LOVE children. Maybee check with a local nursing home or assited living place in your area, they do all kinds of things in this nature. Maybee the kids could read a short story or near Christmas time they could sing a few Christmas Carols, they would LOVE this!!! A few others things that came to mind was visit a hospitol, check and see near Christmas of children that will have to stay in the hospitol during Christmas, that stocking full of goodies would be a wonderful idea for a child that can't be home for Christmas. Also we do allot with a local family that does not have funds to have anything for Christmas, a small toy or clothing item for their children would be a beautiful gesture. I belong to a bunco group, we each give money check with our school system each year as they know a family in need, we then shop for them. We buy things they really need, or a new winter coat, hat, gloves, things that are really neccessary. And lastly I used to have my kids go through all their toys, have them get rid of some things they no longer need or want, then donate them to a shelter or a needy family.

    Thank you as always for all your inspiration.

    Lisa W.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Jessica D. says…
    11/07/2010

    When I was younger, my mom and I would make a homemade Christmas ornament every year. I still try to carry on this tradition by myself. I have heard of families doing this so that when a child moves out to start their own family, they already have a set of Christmas ornaments filled with love and memories. You could even have an action card be to make an ornament to give to Gabrielle or something like that if you wanted to keep it "giving" oriented!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Sara says…
    11/07/2010

    Maybe some things that need to be done around the house for the holidays, like 'wrap a present for a family member' or 'make your own wrapping paper out of brown paper and holiday stamps'.

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Love You Because & Christmas Card | Designer Digitals Quarterly Sale | Ali Edwards says…
    11/08/2010

    [...] I also posted a fun Weekend Creative project this past weekend using new hand-drawn Advent boxes. Click here to see the full post. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. sara says…
    11/08/2010

    i love the idea -- just need a little help. once i download (and pay for them), which i have. i am wondering how i get them on one sheet to print out. i am hoping i have the correct tools to do so, as i love the idea. help! thanks so much.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…
      11/08/2010

      Hi! After downloading open the folder. Inside the folder you will find a bunch of different files - choose one that ends in .pdf (there's a red, green, brown, and black version). Double click on one of those files and it will open in Adobe Acrobat Reader (most likely you have this on your computer already). Let me know if you need more help!

  19. Jennifer S. says…
    11/08/2010

    We love advent calendars also. The last couple of years I have done this with little strips of paper. The ideas on our strips include...choose a relative to call and say I love you...write a special note to a friend or relative, have dinner under the Christmas tree (a favorite at our house), extra book at reading time, etc....so much more fun than just a piece of candy, and I hope more meaningful to my family. I love your boxes, and might need to enhance our strips this year!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Amy Brock says…
    11/08/2010

    I love the twist on a traditional advent calendar. We are big fans of the lego one also. :) Quick question. Have you found any 8 x 8 page protectors with pockets or do you just make your own?

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Michelle says…
    11/08/2010

    Love this, Ali! Also, Doris' idea with the faces would make a perfect gift for grandma. Can't you just see a mini-tree decorated with these picture tags...on the back could be little reasons why we love grandma! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. sarah says…
      12/01/2010

      love this idea with photos of the kids from the year on one side and all the kids reasons on the other.. i think we will be doing that this year.

  22. Stacey says…
    11/08/2010

    Hey there, Ali!
    I can't wait to make these Advent Cards. When I saw the "falala" card, I had an idea-make a music cd with family member's favorite Christmas songs-Brilliant, right?! "I really can't stay-Baby it's cold outside..I got to go away-Baby it's cold outside."

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Amy Nimrick Johnson says…
    11/08/2010

    A Christmas tradition my grandma always did when we were little that we continue with our kids today is baking a birthday cake for Jesus.
    Something new that we have been doing with our kids is packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. They are sent all around the world. If you include a letter and/or photo, you may even receive correspondence. We give our kids a designated amount of money and let them chose the items they would like to fill the box (we fill a plastic storage shoebox, that way it can be repurposed to carry water, etc., whatever the need may be once it arrives at said destination). We homeschool our girls and today's geography lesson included information about the Pygmies in Africa. The girls could hardly phathom that there could be people that would still live in huts and barely have any belongings. Suddenly, one of them excitedly shouted, "Maybe they'll get one of our Operation Christmas Child boxes!" http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Heather says…
    11/09/2010

    I'm thinking about an advent calendar for us moms. We spend so much time taking care of everyone but ourselves, and the holiday season is the busiest of all! It wouldn't necessarily have to have something for every day, maybe just once a week,but it would be actions that are in the holiday spirit and give us permission to focus on ourselves for a little while. What I have so far: read a Christmas book (a novel, that is!); go have a holiday drink at Starbucks with a girl friend or two (and no kids!!); and make a layout about a Christmas from your childhood. Hopefully I can think of a couple more before December rolls around. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Lisa-Jane Johnson says…
    11/10/2010

    This is something like we do in our house and I got the idea from a friend in London. We hang decorated envelopes on a string and inside each one is either a prompt or a little chocolate. We have to carefully plan what is in each envelope as we include things like carol concerts, visiting relatives, and now school performances and parties etc. I have a few Christmassy crafts books for the children and this year with the eldest being a bit more able, at least one of the activities will be that he can choose something from one of these books. Other things will be specifically chosen to coincide with our parties etc like baking or making decorations etc. I love that it will change each year as the children grow and develop and I love all the ideas from everyone here too. Much better than a calendar with chocolate in and some character on the front that has nothing to do with Christmas!

    Reply 0 Replies

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