Sustainable and Fun Christmas Calendars

Annika on the Swedish blog En köpfri dag (A day without shopping) has a fun idea for Christmas calendars: instead of giving tiny often disposable gifts every day, the kids get every day a task, something nice to do. She suggests kids could e.g. choose a toy they donate to a children’s hospital, choose a person to make happy, give a few coins to a street performer or bake to somebody. If they get through the 23 tasks (yes, 23 in Scandinavia; Santa Clause comes to us on Christmas Eve), they will get something a bit more profound from the calender on Christmas Eve.

As Annika points out, the idea is easily adjusted to various ages. In my opinion it is also easily adjusted to other values, I mean why not make it family calendar and to every day have a task of doing something together? I also like the idea of kids being involved in the Christmas spirit of giving as well as receiving.

I am in the process of thinking of what to do regarding Christmas calendars. I am not over the moon of the idea of having all sorts of tiny items around the house. Maybe I’ll end up with some sort of combination, some tasks, some small items and some raisins 😉 What do you do for calendars?

While these Christmas calendars are just scratching the surface of a more sustainable Christmas, you’ll get a lot deeper, if you take a look at the great, thoughtful and sustainable Christmas gift ideas that Bronwyn has come up with!




  1. […] Here is the sustainable but fun version of it, which we modified a bit last year. […]

  2. […] 5. Sustainable and Fun Christmas Calendars […]

  3. […] reminds me of our earlier Christmas calendar dilemma. We have now solved it so that our kids got one traditional picture one each, and one […]

  4. […] We can all share the Christmas spirit, the fun, and it may mean that we only need to wear the same clothes as somebody else does for a day. But if we can afford to buy many gifts to our children, maybe we instead of buying that last gift want to teach our kids also about the joy of giving, and put down the money on present we together choose to somebody else? This will be one task in our sustainable but fun advent calendar. […]

  5. Yeah, I must be a crappy mom because I go to the big box store and buy a pre-packaged advent calendar full of tiny pieces of chocolates! It never dawned on me to mix it up! And, well, not going to lie, sometimes as a single mom just making it through the holidays was a reason to celebrate and adding more tasks to do seems overwhelming! Having said that, I think this is a brilliant idea, and I would make some days “task” days and some “treat” days with goodies. And, in the mean time, I’ll buy cheap chocolates! 🙂

    1. Kate, I am pretty sure your son has quite liked the chocolates :), and seems to me he has turned out to be a thoughtful young man, so you must have picked just the right way for you! I think it all is a bit of a balancing act, some may not have the money to spend, some don’t want to spend it, some don’t have the time or the energy to spend, some do not want too much stuff around, some may want to build in “teaching values”, and some do the teaching in other contexts. I think it is good to have alternatives and to be able to pick what suits us. I only ever had those calendars with pics as a kid, fortunately, as I turned out allergic to chocolate 😉

      1. Allergic to chocolate? Oh the horror!!! LOL
        Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it, and I found some ideas for the calendar – I won’t be doing it, but is sounds like such a great idea I figured if I passed the ideas to you someone else might be inspired!

        Make a nativity; make gingerbread men to hang on the tree; Make snow globes (and I saw some cool Snowmen snow globes made out of paper plates!); write a letter to Santa; cut out snowflakes, call a family member; watch a Christmas movie; make treats for neighbors; deliver treats to the neighbors; have hot chocolate; pick put gifts for family members; play a family game; make sugar cookies; read the Christmas story; drive around and look at lights.

        I know it’s long, but those seemed like great ideas to put in a calendar!

        1. Oh, those certainly are great ideas for the calendar, thank you for taking the time to writing them here! Everyone else is welcome to share there best tips too,then there will be loads to choose from.

          …and not eating chocolate actually is not so bad when you grow up with it. At least there is one thing I am healthy about 😉

  6. […] can also check out this great advent calendar idea (also from Free But Fun) where toys are replaced with […]

    1. You and your post deserve it 🙂

  7. We used to have advent calendars with just pictures. This toy/chocolate thing was a bit of a revelation to me when I found out as an adult! I can’t seem to find those calendars now, though – they all seem to be chocolate/toy/whatever.

    The last couple of years I’ve griped about it but now I know what to do. We can use one of the add-you-own-toy calendars but instead of toys we can add little acts of kindness or service to get into the Christmas spirit (we’ll save the experiences for gifts?? I’ll discuss this with A).

    Thanks so much!

    1. You are welcome!

      We are still discussing too and leaning towards doing our normal stuff but adding the perspective of helping others/us.

      I like experiences, but the thought of coming up with 23 ideas and to build them in every day seems a bit exhausting at a closer look (even though I think the experience in the calendar could be as simple as to bake something together and to bring it to our lovely old neighbour. But every day… too stressful).

  8. My sister in law is giving her kids experiences, such as a day at the discovery museum, or holiday movie night as a family and such. I really liked that idea, but I like what you write about even more! I probably won’t do anything but the little chocolate count down calendar this year as we are traveling, but I am saving all these ideas for next year as we will probably be settled. 🙂

    1. I like the experiences too! Maybe a combo of all…? I guess you get to do so many experiences anyway while travelling, that you don’t have to put it in a calendar form. But with bigger kids I think this kind of a calendar might be ideal when travelling, no need to carry stuff but rather encouraging to explore the surroundings!

      1. very true! We would actually prefer to give experiences instead of gifts for birthdays and Christmas as well (or are at least trying to follow through with that). It can be difficult to not buy the cute toys and such though.

        1. I like that too, and those memories are so special! But if one has the opportunity, I do think kids can have some cute toys as well- they like to hold things too and we like to buy 😉 just in reasonable amounts.

        2. Oh, do you have some good ideas on what kind of experiences to give?

          1. I haven’t done all of these things, as z is a little young for some. For z’s 2nd birthday we took her to Disneyland Paris (that was for us too 🙂 ). Some of my ideas for experiences are ice skating/roller skating lessons, swimming lessons, season passes to children’s museums, art/music/dance classes, trips to parks, etc. They don’t all have to be lessons or classes of course, you could just have a swimming day or an afternoon at the park and a picnic.

            1. Good ones, thanks!

  9. We haven’t done calendars yet but used to have one with chocolates as a kid rather than toys

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Reetta K.

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