My boys love books, and I love that! This is why books play an important role in one of our favorite family traditions – our Christmas Book advent calendar that helps us count down to Christmas!
There are lots of different ways that you can incorporate books into your holiday celebrations. Reading Christmas books with your kids each night before bed is the perfect way to enjoy quality family time together while fostering a love of reading. I’ll share a bit about our book advent calendar, and then I’ll provide some tips to help you start a bookish advent calendar tradition for your own family.
Like many families, the Elf on the Shelf makes a visit to our house during the holidays. When he arrives on December 1st, our elf delivers a big stack of Christmas books. Each book is labeled with a number from one to twenty-five.
Every year, I create a calendar on the chalkboard wall in our kitchen, and my boys cross out a number each night to see how many days are left until Christmas. Then they rush to the big pile of wrapped books in the living room to find the one with the matching number.
BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: The Best Christmas Books for Kids
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a Christmas Book Advent Calendar?
An advent calendar is used to count down the days leading up to Christmas. Many traditional calendars used for the advent tradition include little doors that you open each day in December to find a small chocolate or other treat inside. Similarly, a book advent calendar is another fun way to countdown to Christmas by unwrapping Christmas-themed books each day.
How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget
In the first year of this tradition, purchasing twenty-four books can be quite an investment, but there are plenty of ways to make a book advent calendar without breaking the bank.
- Shop Your Own Bookshelves – Start by checking your own bookshelf to see what Christmas, holiday, or winter-themed books you already own.
- Ask Family Members, Friends, and Neighbors – It’s very possible that others in your circle may be storing some Christmas books that they’d love to gift or loan to your family.
- Shop Thrift Stores – Thrift stores are a great place to find affordable books that are still in great condition.
- Shop Holiday Sales – Black Friday sales are a great way to purchase new books at the lowest price available.
- Add Just a Couple of New Books Each Year – Once you’ve built up your initial collection, you can use the same books year after year. When our boys were quite young, we started with a good mix of mini board books and Christmas classics, like Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The next year, I bought one or two new books to mix in. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve slowly replaced the board books with bigger kid titles, and even some short Christmas chapter books.
Do You Open 1 or 24 First On an Advent Calendar?
Whether you are creating a book advent calendar, a chocolate advent calendar, or another type altogether, the question that comes up most frequently is “does an advent calendar start at 1 or 24?” Based on the historical context, the proper way to create an advent calendar is to count up toward Christmas Day, starting with box or gift labeled as number “one.”
When it comes to creating a new holiday tradition, I’m a firm believer that you should do what works best for your family. Since my kids were very little, they’ve always asked “how many days until…” (until Christmas, until my birthday, until school starts, etc). As a result, we’ve always opted to count down to Christmas by opening book 24 on December 1st and working our way down to book 1 on Christmas Eve.
Where Do You Store All the Christmas Books the Rest of the Year?
We believe that kids should always be surrounded by books, but when it comes to holiday-themed books, we prefer to store them with the holiday decor, bringing them out only for a month or so each year. By doing this, we are able to enjoy our favorite Christmas books year after year without the kids getting bored of them. Plus, storing them helps make room on the bookshelf for more non-seasonal books!
What If You Don’t Want to Collect & Wrap 24 Books for Advent?
We get it! If the idea of collecting and wrapping 24 books sounds like it will add more stress to your already busy holiday season, we have more book advent calendar ideas that might feel a bit more manageable.
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- Buy a Story Book Advent Calendar – Skip the collecting and wrapping by purchasing a premade advent calendar with 24 mini books inside. Here are a few that you might like:
- Choose One Book With a Story or Chapter For Each Night of Advent – The following books are all designed to be read one story, or one chapter, each day in December:
- Check Out Library Books – Head to your local library to borrow some Christmas themed books to put your family in the holiday spirit. Ask your librarian to point you in the right direction, or use our list of the best Christmas books for kids to place online requests through your library system and pick them up when they come in.
How do I adapt this tradition to older children?
If your kids have outgrown picture books, chapter books are a great alternative. You can read one chapter together as a family each night. Here are some that we recommend: