I’ve been thinking about how little bookworms might like to prepare for Christmas. After all, we do enjoy reading books much more than eating chocolate, right? Maybe!

I’ve possibly gone a bit overboard with ideas, but I hope there’s an idea here for your family. Make sure you keep scrolling down as there are six Advent calendar alternatives: A book tree Advent calendar, a little Advent bookcase, an Advent bookmark, an Advent book, an Advent book page puzzle and a family advent book.


It was on our facebook page, where one of our wonderful community members, Peta Kennedy, alerted me to the idea of a Book Advent Calendar after she saw it on Pinterest.  So, I too went pinteresting, and this is what I found:

Source: Babyccino Kids

We don’t really have anywhere in our house where I could display 24 books like this, so I borrowed the idea of reading a Christmas book each day in the lead up to Christmas, but instead thought we could display the books to look like a Christmas tree.

Book Tree Advent Calendar_My Little Bookcase

Make sure you send in photos if you create a Book-A-Day Advent Calendar for your home.

You will need:

  • 24 Christmas Books
  • Wrapping paper (I chose a green wrapping paper to represent leaves of a tree)
  • Numerals 1-24
  • Christmas tree topper (e.g. star or angel)

Our approach:

1. Collect 24 Christmas books. Check our lists for some great book suggestions.

Book Advent Tree_My Little Bookcase

If you struggle to find 24 Christmas books:

  • Borrow some from the library (Be strategic about where you place these so you can return them by the due date.)
  • Buy some from a second hand book store
  • Look out for sales. I bought a handful of Little Golden Book Christmas stories from Target for 86 cents on the weekend (right)
  • Instead of Christmas books, you could use books that have a message of hope, giving, thanks, family, tradition or celebrations.

2. Wrap each of the books with wrapping paper

Make a Book Advent Tree_My Little Bookcase

3. Order the books from smallest to largest

4. Attach the numerals to each book. The lowest number is attached to the smallest book

Make a Book Advent Tree_My Little Bookcase

5. Arrange the books in order from largest to smallest to look like a Christmas tree

6. Decorate the tree with a star or angel

Make a Book Tree Advent Calendar_My Little Bookcase

Each day, take the book from the top of the tree and enjoy reading together.


As soon as I saw these mini libraries at Playing by the Book, I knew they’d make a great advent calendar idea.

We have used matchboxes to create mini books, and together they create a mini library (Just perfect for Santa’s elves too!). The mini books actually act as trinket boxes.

You will need:

  • 24 match boxes (or mini cereal boxes for bigger treats)
  • Scissors
  • Coloured paper
  • Double sided tape or glue
  • Mini images of Christmas books
  • 24 treats

Our approach

N.B. If you want the space to include larger sized treats you can use mini cereal boxes (but it will become costly)

1. Cut one edge of the match box to create a top flap (i.e. a front book cover)

2. Cover the matchbox sleeve (i.e. the cover of the book) with paper (we used brown).

3. Use double sided tape or glue to attach the sleeve (cover) to the box so it doesn’t move around

4. Cut and attach an image of a Christmas book to the front of the box

Chistmas Book Advent Calendar_ My Little Bookcase

5. Repeat with the other matchboxes

6. Number the spine of each book with numerals 1-24

Chistmas Book Advent Calendar_ My Little Bookcase

7. Fill each book with a treat. Here are some ideas

  • The traditional mini-chocolate or lolly (M&Ms, jelly beans etc.)
  • 50c to $1 in each box. When the 24th mini book has been opened, head to the shops to buy a special Christmas book to read on Christmas Eve.
  • Puzzle pieces (see below)
  • A selection of Christmas themed goodies (e.g. Christmas jewellery, temporary tattoos, erasers, stickers, mini pencils etc.)
  • Mini Christmas decorations to add to the Christmas tree each day
  • Messages of love to one another
  • Activities to undertake for the day ahead (See the template at Puddles and Gumboots for some ideas)
  • Or you could use a combination of these ideas

8. Once you’ve filled your books with treats, you’ll need to find a mini bookcase. We cut the two ends of a shoebox and covered it with brown paper.

Find a place in your home to display your Little Advent Bookcase. Take one book from the bookcase each day and delight in what you find inside the book.


As a family you could choose a special Christmas book to read throughout December. Beginning on December 1, read one page of the book each night. The majority of picture books consist of 32 pages. So, on December 24 you will probably have a few extra pages to read. Which is just as well because children can never get to sleep on Christmas Eve anyway.

You could also create a special bookmark to mark off each day of December. This is the one we created.

Coundown to Christmas bookmark_My Little Bookcase


There are lots of wonderful Advent Storybooks available,  but this one has caught my eye.

Click here to buy a copy.

Truth in the Tinsel, written by Amanda White of Impress Your Kids, is a great guide to help you prepare for Christmas in the most beautiful way.

It really encourages you to slow down during the Christmas season to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. There is certainly a place for indulging in presents, but it’s important to also spend some time talking about the real Christmas story- the birth of Jesus.

The book includes everything you need each day to read a scripture from the bible, share a discussion with your child, and make a Christmas ornament for the tree.

Truth in the Tinsel is colourful and incredibly thoughtful. Amanda has thought of everything to make sure the process is easy and enjoyable for you: supply lists, printable templates, bible scriptures, ornament decorations and discussion starters.

Truth in the Tinsel e-book can be purchased here. (This is an affiliate link)


You will need:

  • An image from a Christmas book
  • Laminating sheet and laminator
  • Pencil
  • Scissors

Our Approach:

1. Find an image from a Christmas book (Make sure it is a book you are happy to disassemble)

2. Remove the page from the book

3. Turn the page over and draw a jigsaw puzzle of 24 pieces (e.g. 3×8 or 4×6)

4. Laminate the page for strength and durability

5. Cut the jigsaw puzzle pieces

6. Place each jigsaw puzzle piece into your calendar

7. Beginning on December 1,  add one piece to the puzzle each day.

Chistmas Book Advent Calendar_ My Little Bookcase

On December 24 you will have completed your puzzle and have a beautiful scene of Christmas.


This activity requires very little preparation. You work on the pages of your book one day at a time beginning on December 1, keeping a record of how you prepare for Christmas each day.

You will need:

  • 24 blank pages of paper
  • Pens, pencils, crayons etc.
  • Ribbon or binding

Each day recount and illustrate your day together with your child. Each page of the book will record how you prepared for Christmas (e.g. decorating the tree, wrapping presents, writing a letter to Santa etc.)

On December 24, collate and bind your pages together to create your special family book.



  1. I love your Christmas book advent so so much. I think most kids would love the idea of opening a little book treasure and the anticipation of reading it far more than a bad chocolate advent. Thanks for the wonderful idea. I saw the Golden Books in Toys R Us a few weeks back for about $4.00 each and passed, glad I did now.

    • Yes, it’s a shame we had to make them so early for this post because my little girl is just dying to open the mini books.

  2. Wow, Jackie! What fantastic ideas… Now to decide which one to do!

  3. This an amazing Advent post Jackie! My favourite yet. I had seen the book advent calendars on Pinterest, but I love yours the most. The tree is so cute. Thank you for linking to my advent calendar activities

  4. Amazing! I always loved counting down days to anything as a child and was so funny to see my son had created a calendar to countdown to the start of the advent calendar! My mum actually prepares the calendars for my kids and is so lovely to watch the days unfold for the first time with them. She uses the Oxfam cloth pockets and fills them with myriad treats. I remember one year she created a chest of 24 draws that we pulled out each day. I love your matchbook idea and my younger son would LOVE the puzzle – though I think the wait to complete the picture might prove all too much!
    Thanks for such a brilliant round up and the reminder of exciting times ahead :)

    • I agree! Fabulous post. You’ve finally put me in the mood to put up the Christmas tree this weekend. My girls will be pleased!

    • Your son sounds adorable.
      I suppose you could always create a Christmas puzzle as an activity instead of using it as an Advent count down.
      Enjoy your Christmas.

  5. I love seeing ideas like this – so creative! A fresh take on an old tradition with a ‘booky’ twist! I know one book I would try to include – ‘Harvey Slumfenburgers Christmas Present’. My kids ( who are now both officially teenagers) still love reading this picture book! Thank you for sharing this because books really deserve this kind of royal treatment.

    • They do don’t they. It helps to reinforce that books are a treat. I haven’t read that book and will need to track it down.

    • They do don’t they. It helps to reinforce that books are a treat. I haven’t read that book and will need to track it down. Have a great Christmas

  6. These are absolutely fabulous advent ideas! I love the book Christmas tree; since we always read Christmas stories in the lead up to Christmas this would go over a treat in our house.

    • I think what makes it so special is that Christmas books are really a treat- kept aside to read only once a year. Enjoy your Christmas.

  7. Love these ideas, Jackie. I’m just amazed at all the cleverness and thought you’ve put into this. Well done.

  8. I came across the book advent idea last year in mid december, so quickly got all my christmas books together and did a 12 days of christmas countdown instead. Since then I’ve been picking up cheap christmas books throughout the year. We placed ours in a basket, without numbers, though I love your tree shape. Also looking forward to the time when the kids are old enough to help wrap them all :)

    • It makes it easy to plan and organise when you have an idea in your head. My daughter is 2. I wrapped the books, but she put the numbers on them. That made her happy. Have a great Christmas.

  9. I love all of these ideas! I wish someone would make one for me :-)

  10. THANKYOU!! Totally love your Christmas Tree advent. Will let you know how we get on. Best idea ever!

  11. Love the book Christmas tree. Jackie this post must have taken you ages to put together – what an amazing resource!

    • It certainly took weeks of my time, but I’m just happy that so many have found it to be great inspiration. Have a great Christmas.

  12. What a fabulous idea! I was thinking of bypassing the whole advent thing, mainly because chocolate in calendars isn’t the best of ideas for a one year old and four year old. But I LOVE these ideas! Thanks for the inspiration. Now to decide on which one…. :)

    • As my daughter is only 2, I also feel the same way about chocolate. Who knows after all of these alternatives we may never need to use chocolate as a count down to Christmas.

  13. What a wonderful collection of ideas! I’ll be using one of these this year as soon as I figure out how to choose, lol. Thank you for sharing!

  14. I love these ideas. Any excuses to buy more books are good with me.

  15. Instead of buying books for the book-a-day Advent calendar that you described, we gathered up all of the holiday books that we’ve accumulated over the years…it will be so much fun to rediscover old favorites each day of the month! Thanks for sharing the wonderful idea.

    • Great idea. It’s all about helping our kids understand that books are treats. I think holiday favourites sound wonderful :)

  16. I think this post is so wonderful. I can’t wait to act on a few of your great ideas.

  17. Great Ideas!!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  18. This is absolutely incredible! I love the little matchboxes! Your display as a CHristmas tree is divine. I think I’ll pick up some op shopped children’s books (my favourite bookshop!) and wrap them up to do this!! Thanks for the fabulous ideas! Have pinned this one too!

  19. What a great post! Thanks for all these ideas!

  20. Awesome ideas, Jackie! I LOVE book-based Christmas countdowns! I featured your post and photo in my 40+ Christmas Countdown Activities at

  21. I just saw this on Pinterest and realise I linked to the wrong blog this year. I should have written it down! So sorry.

    We loved doing this last year and I can’t wait for tomorrow to start again. Such a wonderful idea. Off to alter the link.

    • Oh no problem. I had seen your original post- but I am also well aware that everyone seems to share similar ideas at times. Thanks for crediting us. :)

  22. Wow – so many great ideas for learning fun with books – thanks!

  23. I admit I’ve never done a book-a-day advent calendar because I can’t wait to read the books, but these are some fun alternatives.

  24. I love all of these ideas! We are counting down with books at our house, but I wish I had seen your great ideas first because I didn’t think of a cute way to display them! Oh, well, we’re still having fun, and we can do it a new way next year!

  25. these are great ideas. On my blog this week I am collecting links to Advent Calendars and it would be appreciated if you would visit and add a link to this post. i’m sure my readers would enjoy visiting with you to see your ideas and be inspired. Thanks.

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