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43 Adult Advent Calendar Ideas & Activities: The Ultimate List

October 26, 2020

Last Updated:

A few years ago, I wanted to make an adult advent calendar. No, not that kind of “adult”. Sheesh! I saw a friend’s adorable tree-topped miniature boxes for her kids’ advent calendar. So I started thinking how it would be fun to do a grown-up version. Most adult advent calendar ideas I found were either themed gifts, really just for kids, or too expensive. For example: 25 whiskeys, 25 chocolates, 25 wines, 25 lip balm or other beauty products etc. I wanted to do something a bit more budget friendly, unique and experience-oriented instead of shopping related during the holiday season. So here’s how to make a grown up advent calendar. And how I’ve changed it over the years!

The result was a giant list of fun ideas for activities and outings. After the list was finished, I realized that they fall into three main categories – food or drinks to make/eat, at home activities, and holiday outings, with a few fun little gifts thrown in here and there. I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a ton more fun activities along those lines!

In this post:

adult advent calendar

Advent Calendar Activities for Adults:

Here is my idea list for activities. It’s like a Christmas bucket list – the categories are: making food or drinks, at home activities, and outings, and of course some little gifts – some of which can overlap. :) Consider it your “advent-ure” calendar if you will.

  1. switched to washi tape after some fell off the wall :)Make fancy hot chocolate
  2. Get a Christmas tree
  3. Trim the tree & decorate
  4. Buy a new whiskey – make hot toddies
  5. Host a holiday brunch
  6. Make something crafty
  7. Make eggnog
  8. Shop for gifts downtown
  9. Make spiced cider
  10. Create a holiday card
  11. Write, address, stamp, and mail cards
  12. Make cookies
  13. Wrap gifts
  14. Soup night! with friends
  15. go look at Christmas lights
  16. Make oven s’mores
  17. Make popcorn and watch a classic holiday movie
  18. Buy or make some Christmas candy
  19. Make paper snowflakes
  20. get chai go for a walk
  21. Stocking stuffer outing
  22. Go out for holiday ales
  23. Take grandparents out talk about childhood Christmas’
  24. make a holiday playlist on Spotify
  25. game night
  26. Attend a Christmas event – holiday play or musical performance
  27. dress up for dinner or drinks
  28. play Christmas songs on guitar or sing carols
  29. find an angel tree program & buy gifts for a child
  30. go out for or make tiki drinks or holiday cocktails
  31. holiday train ride
  32. Have a holiday picnic
  33. Massages
  34. holiday pop-up shopping
  35. Any year-end donations
  36. Volunteer somewhere
  37. go out for a comfort food dinner
  38. sledding or snowshoeing
  39. pre-holiday de-stress yoga etc
  40. go soaking at Kennedy School (Portland)
  41. Go to Powell’s Books (Portland)
  42. go to Timberline lodge (Oregon)
  43. Visit Hood River (Oregon)

Download the Advent Activities Printable

And here’s a printable list of some of the above activities that we picked last year as a printable pdf. My outing activities are for Christmas in Portland, but to find events in your town, Google search “[your city] Christmas Events”, like “Portland Christmas Events” to find more ideas!

advent calendar ideas

Here’s how to make a DIY adult advent calendar:

1. Create a list of at least 25 activities or little gifts. (see ideas list)

2. Make sure the activities line up with anything already on your calendar (ie. if you have a big Christmas party on the 13th, make sure you slot in “Christmas party!” or something simple as the activity for that day).

3. Be flexible. If you miss a day or need to re-arrange things, don’t stress about it. The point of creating this advent calendar is to add more joy into your month, not create a stress storm!

4. Find a calendar style that works for you. You could go as simple as writing them all down on paper or keeping a list on your calendar, or more complicated with little boxes or bags, like some of these ideas. I designed my own Christmas tree shape out of silver dots. Check out the instructions on how, below.

Advent Calendar Christmas tree

Advent Calendar Ideas

#1-12How To Make the Dot Christmas Tree Advent Calendar:

Step 1. Get silver cardstock (or different colors that you like). I used silver shimmer cardstock, (92lb cover). Similar $12

Step 2. Arrange 12 #s to a page equally spaced with a fun font. Here’s my template, #1-12 printable pdf, #13-24 printable pdf, #25 printable pdf (in gold or silver). Print onto the card stock with your printer. If you don’t have a printer, you can print to Kinkos for pretty cheap too.

Step 3. Make your circles. Round up a few glasses from the kitchen to see what size of circle fits best (using either the rim of glass or base of glass) and trace around each circle with a pencil. Then cut out the circles!

Step 4. Write your advent activities on the backside. Print out the list of activities and glue them on or handwrite them on the back side of each dot. and assemble on the wall in a Christmas tree shape for your Christmas countdown. I printed out the activities list and used double sided tape to attach to each dot so we could have the option of moving days around and re-using the dots another year. Make sure your Christmas day activity fits what you plan for Christmas morning!

My DIY and “Fill Your Own” Advent Calendars Over the Last 8 Years

Here’s a look at my advent calendars in recent years. I created a DIY beer advent calendar which was a super fun 12-day calendar and would also make a great gift for any craft beer lover! One of the things I love about an activity-based calendar, is that it focuses on spending quality time together – a great idea for the entire family, not just adults!

2018 & 2019 DIY Advent Calendar (activities taped underneath each wooden house!)
2017 – had a baby, no time for creating. So I used our kitchen chalkboard wall. Check out more advent calendar ideas for kids and toddlers

Low-stress Christmas Philosophy

I subscribe to a “low stress Christmas” philosophy. If making an advent calendar sounds like extra stress and busy work, please don’t do it! So often during holidays, we find so many cute ideas and want to do all the things and say yes to everything. When it comes to making a fun and low-stress advent calendar, be flexible. You don’t have to complete your list. And you can move items to a different day. You can skip or add new items. The idea is to add more joy and little fun and experiences – not stress. So opt out of holiday stuff you don’t want to do. Christmas as a grown up can be fun for this very reason! ;)

Are you doing a kids or adult advent calendar this year?

This post was originally written in December 2013 and updated for 2023. Enjoy!