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Create a Christmas Book Advent Calendar

Have you ever heard of a Christmas book Advent calendar? It’s so simple and yet so fun. And best of all, it’s the perfect way to incorporate read-aloud time into your family’s holiday traditions.

Here’s How It Works

With a Christmas book Advent calendar, instead of a toy or a piece of candy, your child opens a Christmas picture book every day. It’s like a chocolate Advent calendar … only better!

Stack of picture books with hot cocoa

Gather Your Books

First, gather enough books so that you’ll have one for every day of Advent. You can use my library list to gather books from the library, or you can use this holiday activity as an excuse to build up your own library of beautiful Christmas books!

So how many books will you need?

The traditional Advent calendar begins on the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (November 30) and continues through four Sundays, ending on December 24. This year (2022) Advent begins on Sunday, November 27, so that means you’ll need 28 books.

Wrap Your Books

Wrap enough Christmas books for every day of Advent and add a numbered tag to each one. Create your own tags or download our Printable Advent Tags and choose a set to print and attach to your wrapped picture books.

download printable advent tags now

Display Your Books

Now it’s time to display your Christmas book Advent calendar.

wrapped books for advent calendar

Put the books under the Christmas tree, on a shelf, or in a basket. You might even want to keep them hidden so that your kids will have to hunt for them.

wrapped books in a basket for book advent calendar

How you display them is up to you. Be creative and make it fun!

wrapped books with book advent calendar tags

Countdown to Christmas with Picture Books!

Now comes the fun part. On each day during Advent, have your children open one of the wrapped books for your family to read together. The “togetherness” is part of the joy of this engaging holiday activity.

little boy unwraps picture book for book advent calendar

girl opens a picture book for book advent calendar

Perhaps this is the year you’ll start a new reading tradition in your household. Grab a cup of cocoa, a warm, snuggly blanket, and some kids, and get started with some beautiful Christmas books!

girl reads her advent calendar book

Looking for Christmas Picture Books?

Favorite-Christmas-books

If you’d like to create your own picture book Advent calendar but need some picture book inspiration, here are some of my favorite picture books for Christmas.

Click to download a checklist of my favorites to take to your local library.

Looking for MORE books? You can find more great library lists here!

Holiday Book Traditions Shared by Our Readers

  • Use a mix of books and movies! – shared by Angela
  • Go outdoors to read your books every day. – shared by Cheryl
  • Read The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. – shared by Danielle
  • Wrap a new book for each child to deposit on their beds after they fall asleep on Christmas Eve. – shared by Heather
  • Keep a collection of Christmas books that stay in a special basket during Advent. – shared by Danielle
  • Re-wrap Advent picture books before they get stored for the next year! – shared by Beth
  • Just leave unwrapped books under the tree for the kids to choose for anytime reading. – shared by Kelsy
  • Keep a basket of Christmas books under the tree to read aloud during the Christmas season. – shared by Jessica L.
  • Every Christmas our family reads each night from the Jesus Storybook Bible. As soon as dinner is over, we read a chapter and put a corresponding ornament on a little tree. – shared by Annette
  • Start a “12 Days of Christmas” tradition with a different theme for each day. Have books to read, crafts to create, and movies or special foods to enjoy. – shared by Meggen L.
  • Light the advent wreath’s candle and read a Christmas book. – shared by Elizabeth

Does your family have any favorite holiday book traditions? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Sable

says:

I love this idea!

Briana

says:

This is such a great idea!

Briana Pierson

says:

This is such a great idea!

Whitney

says:

We love this tradition!

Brittany

says:

I finally started doing this this year- my kids love unwrapping them each day!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Brittany! Thanks for letting us know your kids are enjoying this.

Amanda

says:

Love this idea!

Amber Harper

says:

What great ideas!! And a sweet way to make “old” books feel new again.

Jenna M

says:

Love this idea!!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jenna!

Vanessa

says:

This is an awesome idea! I saw a friend doing this. I have something to look forward to next year!

Robin

says: Customer Service

It’s actually not too late to start, Vanessa! I always start later than the first of the month, because one of my kids have an early December birthday and we start the day after that. Lots of people do just one or two weeks before Christmas too.

Kristina

says:

We are doing a book advent this year. I absolutely loved the printable tags and my girls love reading a fun Christmas book everyday. We even added a chocolate!

Robin

says: Customer Service

I always add a chocolate too, Kristina!

Marleigh

says:

I love this idea. It would be neat to do it with bags or something reusable so you don’t have to wrap them every year. 😆

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great idea, Marleigh!

Margaret

says:

Love this! We keep our Christmas books in a basket under the tree, but I love the intentionality and excitement that wrapping would provide (although I don’t love the extra effort it would require, ha ha)

Robin

says: Customer Service

I know what you mean, Margaret. Someone just recommended reusable bags instead for just this reason!

Katrina Hadlock

says:

This is a great idea.

Mama Bear

says:

Love this idea!

Kassi

says:

We’ve done this idea (shared by you guys!) several years at Christmas and it’s been a really special tradition to read picture books together!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Thank you for letting us know that you have enjoyed this tradition for several years, Kassi! Wonderful to hear!

Claudia M.

says:

Such a cute idea! My twins would love this!

Judith Martinez

says:

I’m going to do this for just the last week before Christmas. 24 is too much but I can do 7.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great way to make this more workable for you, Judith!

Brittany

says:

Love this idea!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Brittany!

Katie

says:

Love these to make it special!

Ryanne

says:

What a great idea! My kids will love this!

Alicia

says:

Great ideas!

Lauren

says:

The advent tags definitely add to the fun. Thank you for providing a library list too so it’s not a super expensive experience.

Robin

says: Customer Service

You are very welcome, Lauren! The library is a wonderful resource that is too often overlooked!

Tara Clancy

says:

Fantastic alternative to chocolates! Thank you for these ideas!

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Tara!

Carolyn

says:

What a great idea. Just went to the library last week and got a bunch of books. Excited to start this tradition with our family.

Robin

says: Customer Service

I hope you make sweet Christmas memories with this tradition, Carolyn.

Melissa

says:

We read a different Christmas book every night during December. We have our own favorites that we keep every year and we visit the library for new books during the season.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Wonderful tradition, Melissa!

Jessica

says:

This is our family’s favorite Christmas tradition!

Catrina Staggers

says:

Such a fun idea

Brittany Chapman

says:

This is one of our favorite traditions! I use the same books every year for the most part, and unwrapping a familiar favorite is so exiting for my boys.

Robin

says: Customer Service

I’m sure unwrapping the same books year after year will be sweet memories for your children, Brittany!

Mary Dustin

says:

Great idea!