DIY Book Advent Calendar For Kids


When my son was about two, my mother in law came to me with an idea for a book advent calendar. It was an idea she had seen online and thought it was a good way to encourage my son’s love of reading.

The book advent calendar quickly became one of my son’s favorite holiday traditions. Every year a package shows up with 25 books that he opens one-by-one as a countdown to Christmas. It’s something he looks forward to every year, and has been the place where we have found most of our favorite books.

Unfortunately books can be expensive, so here are a few tips and tricks you can use if you want to start this tradition with your own kids.

  • Use books you already have. This is a great way to bring out the holiday-specific books you keep with the decorations to kick off the holiday season.
  • Use your local library. A great way to find a wide range of books for all ages. If you find one your child loves, you could add it to their holiday wish list.
  • Pass down books. My mother in law saved many of the books my husband read when he was little, which she then passed down to my son. You could also pass down books from an older sibling or cousin.
  • Thrift stores. Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Once Upon A Child and Facebook Marketplace are great places to look for books. Hit up a bargain day and you can find some for as little as $1.
  • Shop holiday sales. You can often find sales on books during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Spread the cost throughout the year. If you know this is a tradition you want to do, budgeting for two books a month is easier than trying to buy 25 books in November.
  • Ask family and friends to participate. Asking grandparents, aunts/uncles and friends to send over a book or two will decrease the cost out of your pocket and allows them to participate in the tradition.
  • Pair down the number of books. Instead of doing a full 25 day count down, you could just do the week leading up to the holiday.
2 year old boy opening a christmas gift - inside the wrapping paper is a book
My 2 year old son opening the first book of his advent calendar

A few other tips and tricks:

  • Find books that have a dual purpose. When your child is little, include books that help them with their letters, number and learning how to read. Elementary aged kids often have a list of books that they’ll read in class which you can include so they have a copy at home.
  • Find books that may not be at your child’s current reading level. Having a handful of books that are above your child’s reading level in December means that they’ll have something to read in a few month’s time as their ability grows.
  • Use reusable wrapping. If wrapping paper isn’t your thing, you could wrap each night’s book in a fun holiday blanket. Maybe gift your child a new pair of PJs on the first night and use them as wrapping. You could also use the paper your child draws on as wrapping paper.

Have you done a book advent calendar with your child? If so, what was your child’s favorite book they’ve received? If not, is this something you’ll incorporate into your holiday traditions?

Looking for more fun holiday traditions? Check out these great posts from the archives!

10 of our favorite Christmas Books

Our Family’s Advent traditions