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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144 thoughts

  1. Judy says…

    Don't know if you're still looking for an idea of how to display your advent boxes, but came across this idea and thought of you:


    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Sara says…

    Hey Ali,
    Is this pdf still 30% off or did I miss it? Would love to do it. Thanks! Sara

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      Hi Sara - it was 30% off last weekend during the sale.

  3. Sara says…

    Hi Ali,
    Just wondering if these are still on sale this week? Would love to buy! Thanks, Sara

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Sara says…

    Whoops....sorry. I see you answered. Couldn't find my original comment. Thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Kathleen says…

    Ali---I'm way behind on my blog surfing. Another tangible idea to make Christmas memories AND special for someone else---So grateful for your inspiration and reminder to be intentional about things---I'm thinking "intentional" may have to be my word for 2011!! Thanks again, Ali!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      That's a great word Kathleen.

  6. - Planting Dandelions Planting Dandelions says…

    [...] I love this advent activity from scrapbook storyteller Ali Edwards, that encourages kids to look beyond themselves. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Judy says…

    Don't know if you've decided on a place to hang your advent boxes in the new house, but came across this and thought of you:

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      Cool - thanks Judy.

  8. {leah} says…

    LOVE this idea, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Nicole LeBlanc says…

    LOVE this! I just made my advent cards (photos on my blog). We will begin the weekend before Thanksgiving and go through the 13th of December as we are traveling from the 15th through the New Year. It will be 24 days of great activities and it will give us some great things to do on our week off of Thanksgiving.

    Here are our 24 activities:
    1. Make pumpkin bread and deliver to neighbors (pre-Thanksgiving)
    2. put together children birthday boxes for the local women's shelter (include wrapping paper and party supplies)
    3. take food to local food pantry
    4. recycle some toys to share
    5.pick a name from the angel tree and find a gift for that person
    6. write a letter to Santa. Tell him at least five good choices you try to make daily.
    7. make thank you notes
    8. help decorate the house for christmas
    9. collect some of our books to donate to the Head Start program.
    10. collect items for the local SPCA (newspaper, towels, paper bags, boxes, etc.)
    11. make reindeer food for Santa's reindeer.
    12. write a letter to a friend telling them 10 reasons why they are a good friend to you. mail the letter.
    13. go and visit Santa Clause.
    14. make a Christmas card for Mema (great-grandma)
    15. put together a holiday care package for a soldier and mail it.
    16. decorate a gingerbread house
    17. Watch the movie Elf with the family
    18. make a book for your brother. read it to him.
    19. Listen to mommy read the story of Jesus' birth
    20. Make a Christmas card for your teacher. Include 5 reasons why you are thankful for her.
    21. bake treats for the neighbors and deliver it to them.
    22. bake Christmas cookies for our family and Santa
    23. bake goodies for your teachers and school staff. put together
    goody bags.
    24. deliver the goody bags to your teachers and school staff.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. December Advent Cards « Simply Inspired says…

    [...] Although Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, I’m getting super excited for December to come so that I can start to pull together my December Daily project.  Today I started working on another of Ali’s projects- some December Advent cards. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Peg Graham says…

    I just adore yours and Doris' ideas!

    Here's just a few other service minded things to consider:

    1. Bring Christmas treats to the children in the Cancer Ward at your local Children's Hospital.
    2. Make tray favors for the meals on wheels program.
    3. Go Christmas Caroling at a Nursing Home.
    4. Make nutritional treats for the local animal shelter.
    5. Record yourself reading a book on tape;donate the book and tape to a shelter or day care.
    6. Write letters to service men/women.
    7. Make some pretty bookmarks; leave them in a basket on the library counter for other students to take one when they check out books.
    and more.........

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Home for the Holidays | Wendolonia says…

    [...] 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. [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Jess says…

    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.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Digital Scrapbook Layouts by Nicole LeBlanc: ADVENT ACTION CARDS | Business-Supply Blog says…

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

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  15. st. valentine LOVE notes says…

    [...] 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 [...]

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Mallory says…

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Kelly Libby says…


    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?

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Gina Bowers says…

    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 :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Jessica says…

    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.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Designer Digitals Quarterly Sale On Now | Ali Edwards says…

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

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Megan says…

    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.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Ali says…

      I love that idea Megan.

  22. Advent Crazy | Wendolonia says…

    [...] 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 [...]

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  23. Advent Calendar Ideas - #Christmas Crafts | 7 on a Shoestring says…

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

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  24. December Daily 2011: Graham Cracker Houses says…

    [...] 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. [...]

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  25. Gift Suggestion 2012 | Kiwi Crate Crafty Christmas | Ali Edwards says…

    [...] 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). [...]

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