Book advent calendars are becoming cooler than elf on the shelf across social media. If you decide to do your first book advent calendar this year you may be wondering how to do it the easiest way possible. The truth is a book advent calendar is easier than you think.
What is a book Advent calendar?
Instead of doing a chocolate advent calendar, you give your child a book to read each day of advent. It is a little bit more work, but it can be a fun and rewarding way to countdown to Christmas this year.
When does Advent begin?
Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year it begins on Sunday, December 2nd. However, some people like to begin their Advent calendar on the first day of December. Choose to start your Advent calendar when it works best for your family.
Tips for Creating a Book Advent Calendar
There are a variety of ways to create an Advent Book Calendar for your children. I encourage you to keep it simple and use what you have available. This is meant to be a fun activity for your family, not something that causes you stress.
Stock up on wrapping paper.
One thing you do not realize when you start is how much wrapping paper a bunch of small books really uses up. A great option for your own book advent calendar is to use brown shipping paper. You can let your children decorate each package with colorful crayons, stickers, and bows after you have wrapped them, but that isn't necessary. Be sure to number the books in the order you want your kids to open the packages. You can easily number the packages with number stickers or numbered gift tags.
Do I have to wrap all the books?
I get it. If you are already wrapping lots of presents this Christmas, you may not feel like wrapping books for an Advent calendar. So no, you don't have to wrap all the books! Instead, you may want to surprise your child each morning with a book waiting at the breakfast table or on the floor by the fireplace. You could have a special basket where a new book appears each morning. If you do Elf on the Shelf or Kindness Elves, you can place the book under the elf and have the elf in a place that in some way hints to the topic of the book such as Place the Elf with the Polar Express and have the Elf holding a toy train. Here are more book-themed Elf on the Shelf ideas.
Choose books that will capture your child's imagination.
Each child is different in the types of books they love to read. Encourage each of your children by adding something that will capture their imagination to the mix so no one feels left out.
Add a few books that are seasonal or go with seasonal books for your entire selection.
We do all Christmas themed books, but your book advent calendar does not have to be all seasonal if you choose. You could use a variety of books that change every year or collect a seasonal selection of books for your first year of doing an Advent Calendar and then pack them away for next year at the end of the season. Here is a list of over 60 Christmas books for kids to help you find some to add to your book collection.
Book Advent Calendar Presentation
If you order the books so the largest is on the bottom and the smallest is on top, it will resemble a Christmas tree made of books. However, you can also place them in a basket or stack them on a shelf. You can also keep the books hidden and place one out in a special spot for the kids to find each morning.
Sneak in a few fun treats
Catch your kids off guard by adding a few cute coupons to your book advent calendar this year. Add fun things like an extra half an hour until bedtime, hot cocoa, or a social holiday movie you can all cuddle up and watch on the couch. This is the perfect time to do combinations like The Midnight Express and pull out a copy of the movie after you finish the book. These small surprises mixed into some of the selections is a great way to build excitement when things would have gotten old as the season wears on.
Do the Books Need to be New?
You do not need to give your kids new books. I pick up books at thrift stores, garage sales, and library sales. Your child will not care if a book is used, they will just care if it is topic they are interested in or their favorite genre.
If you are on a tight budget, you can shop your shelves for books to use. Your child will not know which title it is until it is unwrapped and will still enjoy reading the book with you. I have shopped my shelves for my oldest child. Then shopped my oldest child's shelves for my second child…
You can also borrow books from the library to use during Advent. Just be sure to be careful with them and return them on time or else the late fees will make those borrowed books more expensive than thrift store books.
Do I have to Limit our Advent to Books?
This is your family, you can do what you want. You may want to alternate Christmas DVDs with books. Or throw in a Christmas-themed Mad Libs. You may want to mix in a game or two or more. Our family regularly enjoys game night on Fridays, so it is fun to incorporate that into our Advent Calendar. As with books, shop from your game closet first. Perhaps you can come up with your own Christmas version of a favorite family game by changing the rules or making tempory changes to the squares on a game board.
Do I need to give a book for each child?
If your kids have widely different ages or have very different reading tastes, you might want to give each child their own book. Or better yet, you may want to vary the reading level each day, so that each child will receive books at their level throughout Advent, just not every day of Advent. However, it is not necessary to worry about reading levels during this fun activity as the older kids will still appreciate picture books and you can have a read-aloud session that the little ones will enjoy. Especially if you keep your Advent books to Christmas themed books. After they open their joint book, you can read it together as a family. Then put them in a basket, so the kids can read them on their own at a later time.