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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 (2020) Advent begins on Sunday, November 29, so that means you’ll need 26 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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Elaine

says:

I have been doing this with my kiddo since preschool. He is now in 3rd grade. We have all of the titles on paper folded up and put them in the boxes of our Christmas tree Advent Calendar that has little magnetic ornaments too. There are 3 that are not random. The 19th is Daddy’s choice and he can pick from any of the books even if it has already been read. The 24th is always The Night Before Christmas and the 25th is always illustrated Luke 2. We have different books than you have listed. A couple of them are The Velveteen Rabbit, The Tale of Three Trees, Mickey Mouse’s A Christmas Carol, and The Nutcracker.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing the variation on this that you have done, Elaine! It sounds like a lovely Christmas tradition.

Jennifer

says:

We haven’t done the advent pictures books yet. But last year we did read The Nutcracker as our daily read aloud for the time of advent, this year we will be reading A Christmas Carol- by dickens!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Enjoy, Jennifer! I have read aloud A Christmas Carol a few Decembers! I’m not normally a fan of Dickens, but I really enjoy this book. There is some wondrously unexpected descriptive language to be found in it, and of course the classic theme of good will toward our fellow man.

Janine

says:

Hi there
I can’t seem to download the printable tables tags??

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry about that, Janine! Here is the direct link to download them: Christmas Book Advent Tags.

Let me know if that doesn’t work for you.

Joan L Jensen

says:

LOVE IT! Thanks for this idea.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Joan!

Milli

says:

Thank you so much for these wonderful tags! I have been looking all over for some cute ones and finally found yours!
Thanks again!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Milli!

Morgan

says:

We have been doing this for the past 2 years. My kids love it everyday counting down until Christmas. I will be using some of these books listed to change it up. Thank you!

Becca

says:

So cute! My boys would love this!

Diana

says:

Love this idea!!

Emily

says:

Love this idea!

Denise

says:

I love this idea! And thank you for the book list!

Ashley Daugherty

says:

Definitely a great idea to try next Christmas. Thank you for the free printable list of Christmas picture books!

Carrie Phillips

says:

What a great idea!!

Kimberly michnik

says:

Love this idea! Defiantly will need to be on the list of things to do this Christmas!

Beth C.

says:

We do this each year. Wonderful tradition!

Alyce

says:

Can’t wait to try this next year!

Tracey Johnson

says:

This sounds like such a fun tradition!

Laura

says:

This is such a fun idea! My daughter loves to unwrap gifts and I think she would enjoy this so much. I’ll be trying this!

Laura Goetsch

says:

We did this last year and put all the books in one giant wrapped box. Made it easy to add books or change the order.

Elena

says:

This is our new favorite tradition

Anne Jetton

says:

I’ve done this! It’s such fun for littles!

Lauren

says:

My kids would love this!

Jennifer

says:

This is such a fun idea! We use a reusable cloth bag I made to put in a new book every day instead of using wrapping paper.

Gee Aquino

says:

I’m definitely doing this!

Nicole

says:

Our kids loved this, even my oldest who just does not like to read. We keep it simple, and pick out “pretty” books, instead of good reading books. Its a busy time of year and I don’t want the kids to dread their books. And we never buy new books unless it is something specifically requested. We are fortunate to have a nice used book store nearby, and thrift stores might have a good selection. We’ve also used library books. I like wrapping a craft book from the library. One year we did origami, the kids loved it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nicole,
Thank you for letting us know how much your children enjoyed this, even your oldest. I especially like the idea of doing craft books as well. How fun!

LeAnn A

says:

I love this idea!

Deborah Gambrel

says:

Cute idea

Heidi

says:

So fun! Our family does this every Christmas season, and it has made reading with our kids really intentional during the busy holiday season. They’re always so excited to see which book will be opened that day, and continues to make reading so fun! ☺️

Melissa

says:

What a wonderful idea. I cannot wait to do this for Christmas! I think I will get a head start while my Christmas wrap is still out and then I will be ready for December 1, 2020.

Julia

says:

Love this idea and being able to continue reading through the winter break!

Michelle Watson

says:

This is such a wonderful idea! Books are truly a gift!

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