I have a pretty wooden advent calendar/box with little doors that my boys use to count down the days until Christmas but I always have trouble finding cute items to put inside. Any ideas? -Kristin

The advent calendar is the first thing my kids race to on December mornings, so while candy is an obvious filler, it isn’t something I want them ingesting at 7AM. But if I try to find a toy for 24 days multiplied by 3 kids, I need a loan just to afford the month.

So a few years ago I made my first trip down the scrapbook aisle and picked up some festive paper. On strips of this paper, I write down an activity a day that I can easily do with three young kids, like call relatives to sing Christmas carols, or make hot chocolate with a candy cane stirrer. I also have figured out how to check off some chores from my ever-growing list by “letting” them stamp Christmas cards, or wrap gifts for me. I’m sneaky like that.

If you want even more ideas to make it through the 24 days of Advent, check out some great Advent Calendar ideas at Kids Craft Weekly. Or if you still need an advent calendar, we found some that you can order now and have ready to go by December 1st.

The garland advent calendar (above) at Chasing Fireflies lets you tuck a little note or treat into colorful fabric packages, reindeer and even the big man himself. ($54)

Advent pouches from NuvoNova

The custom Advent pouches from the UK’s NuvoNova are an eco choice, made by hand out of unbleached cotton with your favorite font. Order yours stat if you want them to arrive in time. (orig $70 now 35% off, via Ohdeedoh)

Maileg Pixy Advent calendar

At nearly 5′ tall, the Pixy advent calendar from the exquisite Danish toymaker, Maileg is as big as their list to Santa. More like art than a mere calendar, just install a hook to keep it standing tall. ($98 at My Sweet Muffin)

Thymbyl Designs advent calendar with Matroyshka dolls

If you like your Christmas traditions less traditional, I love the Matryoshka pouches from Germany’s Thymbyl Designs which skip the Santa imagery. When not in use, they all fit into one larger pouch. ($58)

Pinkerton Designs mini advent calendar

More card than chocolate storage, Pinkerton Design’s beautiful mini advent calendar has doors that open to reveal tiny illustrations fitting of the season. ($13, via designmom)

And don’t miss one we’ve featured before: the virtual (and free!) Punk Rock Advent Calendar which provides music to fill your days with lots of (j)oi. -Christina