Make Your Own Bookish Advent Calendar

Last December, one of our reviewers popped in at her neighbors’ home to discover a delightful surprise. The family of four was counting down the days to Christmas with a unique take on the traditional Advent calendar—one made entirely of books!

Inspired by a concept they spied online, the parents wrapped up twenty-four holiday-themed children’s books, numbered each, and arranged them on a shelf in their living room. Every night in December, sons Henry and Simon unwrapped the package corresponding with that day’s date, then the family sat down together to read their new book before bedtime.

Advent Calendar

Upon hearing this story, our initial thought was, “What a fantastic idea!” (Followed closely by, “Why didn’t we think of it first?”) Not only is this literary Advent calendar a creative way to count down the days to Christmas, but what kid wouldn’t jump at the chance to unwrap one present a day for twenty-four days? And what better gift is there in the world than a good book?

Recreating this special Advent calendar for your children, grandchildren, or students is simple:

1. Collect your books. Start by shopping your own bookshelves; you’ll probably discover you have more Christmas titles than you thought you did. But if you’re still shy a few (or a dozen), well, it just so happens we can help you with that.  

2. Pick your paper. We found it was easiest to buy a single, large, solid-color roll (kraft or butcher paper are affordable options), but you could also mix-and-match from last year’s holiday scraps.

3. Put your books in order. If your titles are all Christmas-specific, the order probably won’t matter beyond which book is opened on Christmas Eve. (We’re partial to this one: an obvious choice, yes, but a classic one.) If you’re incorporating books about winter, New Year’s, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, you may want to think more carefully about the order.

4. Number your books. Henry and Simon’s parents used colored markers to identify which of their kraft paper-wrapped books the boys should open when, but you could also use gift tags like this Advent calendar o’books:

5. Set up your Advent calendar. Admittedly, twenty-four books require some space. Display options include: a shelf, your mantel, or a windowsill. If you’re a bit pressed for square footage, you may opt for a vertical stack or a special box:

2LittleHooligans

6. Let the countdown begin!

If you decide to tackle this project for your little ones, check back in with us in January and let us know how it turned out. Or, if you’ve read this far but still prefer a more traditional Advent calendar, we’ve got you covered there too.

15 thoughts on “Make Your Own Bookish Advent Calendar

  1. Pingback: A Brief History of the Advent Calendar | Bas Bleu Bluestocking Salon

  2. Pingback: Bookish Holiday Crafts | Bas Bleu Bluestocking Salon

  3. Pingback: Procrastinator’s guide to advent calendars | how about cookie

  4. This was a great idea! We just finished assembling our Advent Calendar and arranged it into the shape of a Christmas Tree. Granted, the logistics of how to build the tree so that all the books were properly displayed was a bit of a challenge, but worth it in the end!

  5. Have been a Bas Bleu fan for years and this idea is wonderful! We are doing it for my great granddaughter,age 4 and incorporating some french (and other languages) children’s books. Thanks for being there!

  6. I am doing this for my girls this year, but I will be throwing in a few Christmas movies here and there to mix It up…Rudolph, Santa is coming to town, The Grinch (both), and Frosty are on my list.

  7. I LOVE this idea! I am going to do this with my grandbabies. They live with me which is the best thing ever, so I will take pictures and share with you when Christmas is over. 🙂 Thank you for posting this idea.

    • Well, I never got myself organized last year to do this but I did this year. The kids LOVE it!!! I wish I could figure out how to post a picture for you because all the wrapped books look so pretty on my bookcase. I used all sorts of different, brightly colored wrapping paper. The kids get to pick one each day (I have Twas the Night Before Christmas hidden at the back so it gets picked last) and they unwrap it and one of the adults reads it to them. I don’t wait for bedtime so that they can keep reading the book all day long. Thank you again for sharing this idea! I am a big enforcer of reading, this is perfect.

      • Ah, Melissa, this makes us happy! So glad to hear this bookish project is a hit in your house and that your kids are enjoying their Christmas reading so much.

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