I've never personally, been a fan of giving my sons chocolate everyday of December for Christmas Advent, so have always sourced alternatives to still make it special, along with the occasional chocolate coin added! With my eldest son now 8 years old, I'm sharing the different things we have done over the years to fill our advent, and offer suggestions for how you can fill yours! All the toys in store that we think make suitable advent fillers can be found here, under Advent Calendar Fillers.
For the first couple of years, I placed our wooden Nativity Set pieces into the advent, and we slowly built up the nativity scene during December. At the shop we have the gorgeous Lanka Kade nativity set made up of 10 pieces. For babies and toddlers, only doing the last 7-10 days of advent is possibly enough for them.
For those wanting to do a full advent, animals associated with travellers, shepherds and Kings from around the world can also be used. Artisanal nativities depict animals such as camels, sheepdogs, oxen, peacocks, hens, doves and robins, horses, goats, and also exotic animals such as elephants, monkeys and parrots.
Christmas Advent Book
If you have never had a Christmas Advent Book then I highly recommend one. There are many different ones on the market now and we've had the same advent book we've used for a number of years, which the kids love, forming our own family tradition. In stock we have the delightful Christmas Is Coming by Chronicle Books. An advent book features traditional Christmas activities that can be done daily such as recipes, games, songs to sing, stories to read and Christmas crafts such as snowflakes and garlands. They are a wonderful way to build the excitement during December, and if you do not manage to do all the activities included, it doesn't matter as there is next year to do the ones you miss! These advent books are also a fantastic alternative to the waste of Elf On The Shelf.
Jigsaws and Puzzles
Puzzles and jigsaws make great advent fillers. Children enjoy seeing their creation come to life one piece at a time; guessing what the final picture might be and taking in the details of each individual piece. Small children will enjoy 6, 12 or 24 piece jigsaws whilst older children will enjoy a bigger detailed puzzle of 48 (2 pieces/day) 96 (4 pieces/day) or 100 pieces in their advent.
To see our full range of Jigsaws and Puzzles in stock browse here.
My son loves maze puzzles, so one year I bought a book of them and removed all the pages to use in his advent! He then received a maze puzzle every day for advent that he enjoyed doing at breakfast before school.
In store, we have Colour-in pocket books featuring 24 postcard-sized cards to colour and cut out that would be suitable as a daily task pre or post school/nursery. We have fairies, dinosaurs, animals and world map. They can then be used as gift tags, tree decorations or to make some decorative bunting, whilst the world map can be put together as a poster for their wall.
We also have animal colouring books featuring 18 pages to colour which can be used alongside the accompanying Flash Cards. For those that prefer to paint rather than colour we have the Enchanted Christmas Magic Painting Book that requires water only and features 16 pictures to paint.
Themed Play Sets
Last year I made my own DIY advent play set using a regular play set I could separate out over 24 days. Playpress Play Sets work well for advent calendars in this way. Their Santa's Midnight Sleigh Ride set is 42 pieces, but any playset in the Playpress range or even a wooden playset like the Peter Rabbit Playset (23pc) can be used to create an advent. If you have a set with too many pieces, you can always do days where they receive two small pieces together. If you have not enough, the advent can be supplemented with chocolate!
Games and Flash Cards
Card based games and sets also work well in advents. All children love to collect things! In stock we have A-Z Animal and Dinosaur Flash Card and Game Sets containing 36 cards, where each day the picture will be different. Children will eagerly anticipate the next card and what it might be! Suitable card games can also be used such as Animal Families and Puzzle Quick.
Build up the excitement to Christmas day with Christmas characters in their advent.
A Keepsake collection for years to come.
Wooden Advent Pre-made Sets
We have three wooden advent calendars available in store.
Noah's Ark. The animals came in two by two... 24 beautiful wooden pieces for each day of advent, making up a wonderful Noah's Ark Play set.
Winter Wonderland. This Winter wonderland advent calendar will make the perfect Christmas display and play set, sure to captivate little ones! Each day has a different wooden piece making up a festive Christmas Wonderland, including elves, penguins, snowman, and Father Christmas' sleigh.
Peter Rabbit. 24 beautiful wooden pieces featuring all the favourite Beatrix Potter characters, and their Christmas essentials! A Peter Rabbit Advent set children will love to play with all year round.