I’ve done a variation of this every year since the kids were old enough – maybe age 3? Most recently, I’ve made construction paper hat and mitten cutouts with a number on the front and an activity on the back.

Advent Envelopes

Last year, I found this site, a peek inside the fishbowl and fell in love with the little envelopes. It was too late for me to scrap the hats/mittens and start over, so I bookmarked it for this year.

Our trip up to the San Juan’s provided me with time away from the laundry and in need of small portable projects. This was perfect to toss in my binder and get done there.

Making the Envelopes

Step 1: I printed the envelope template on cardstock and re-sized it until I got it the size I wanted. (It took me 3 times) I then cut out the one I wanted with scissors.

Step 2: I dug out my stack of Christmas themed scrapbooking paper, picked out my favorites and traced 2 envelopes on each one with the template. I made 26, just in case.

Step 3: I used scissors and cut out each template.

Step 4: Using a metal ruler as a straight edge, I creased each flap. I folded them down firmly with my fingernail. You could use a bone folder, but of all the supplies I own, this is not one of them.

Step 5: Armed with a glue stick, I lined the outer edge of the bottom flap with glue and folded the sides in to make the envelope.

Total time: Two evenings.

Choosing the Activities and Making the Cards

I found a lot of lists on the internet for ideas to include on the cards. I started with things we always do (look at lights on Christmas Eve) and things I need to get done (put up the tree). I try to plan at least one big outing, a couple of movie nights and a lot of little craft things. I know we have limited time with Hubby and we never go on vacation. Plan what you know your family likes and if you get stuck, as them for ideas. The goal is to have fun, not make it all a surprise. I use the calendar to plan the activities, since there are days I know we need something quick (read the Christmas story from the Bible) and there are days I have more time to spend (making graham cracker houses). I printed a couple of lists to glean from and put together a list I thought was good. I also ran it by my Hubby, in case he had anything to add or schedule conflicts I didn’t know about.

When we got home from our weekend away, I sat down at the computer and pulled up Print Shop. (You could probably do this in Word, but I have Print Shop, so that’s what I use.) I wanted to make cards to go inside each envelope with the day’s activity on it. I measured the envelope and set the text box to fit inside. I put a border around each card, to make it easier to cut them out. I used a candy cane font and typed up each of the activities I wanted to include, plus a few more that might happen.

I included things like put up the tree, decorate the porch and decorate the inside of the house because I’ve found it stops the questions of “When are we putting up the tree?” from both the kids and Hubby. They know it’s part of the countdown and I’ll have everything ready for each day.

I also made a few extra cards. Things we might get to do, but I haven’t confirmed yet. Things I might need the extra time for. I can swap out the cards if I need to without anyone knowing.

I printed the cards on cardstock, since most of the activities I can re-use in the future and cut them out with scissors.

Total time: One afternoon (about two hours)


I made Date Labels with some pre-cut squares, a Sharpie and my little Xyron sticker maker. You could use cardstock cut into squares or punched with a Jumbo punch instead of the pre-cut shapes, stickers instead of the marker and some double-sided tape instead of the sticker maker. I just use what I have on hand.

I wrote Dec. 1, Dec. 2, etc. on each one, since I will always use them in December. You could just put the numbers on them if you wanted.

Putting It All Together

I gathered all the envelopes and activity cards and date labels, along with my Master List.

Step 1: I put the envelopes in a semi-random pattern and stuck a date on each one.

Step 2: I pulled all the cards I was using and put them in order of the list.

Step 3: I put the activity for the day inside the envelope with the date.

Step 4: I hung a length of ribbon across our fireplace and used flat thumbtacks to hold it up. I used regular spring clothespins to clip each envelope to the ribbon.

A Card for Each Day

Using the Countdown

Each day I take out the card, place it over the front of the envelope and clip it back on the ribbon. The kids can then read the activity for the day. I get the supplies ready for the big stuff well in advance (things that need to go on the shopping list or reservations for a certain date) and leave the small stuff for the morning before the kids are up or while they are doing schoolwork.

I’ll update throughout the month with our progress. Hope you have a blessed season!