7 Non-Candy Advent Ideas for Your Christmas Season

Advent Ideas

For our advent calendar in previous years, the main event was a small piece of candy each day. It was a fun treat to eat our candy while we read from our little Advent devotional.

This year, however, with some new dietary restrictions, and a  general desire to eat healthier, I wanted to take the focus off candy. So, I decided to brainstorm some non-candy alternatives.

Some of these are products and some are free ideas. I hope this list will give you some ideas for your own Christmas advent season.

1. Shepherd on the Search

Finally! A christ-centered alternative to Elf on the Shelf! You don't want to miss this! Shepherd on the Search!

Shepherd on the Search is a Christ-centered alternative to elf-on-the-shelf. This set includes an adorable little shepherd plush doll, along with a storybook that explains the process. Similar to elf-on-the-shelf, the little shepherd moves around each day, but rather than creating mischief, the little shepherd is on a quest to find the baby Jesus.

You can also buy a coordinating devotional, advent calendar, and more.

You can see my full review here: http://www.servingjoyfully.com/2016/10/30/a-christ-focused-alternative-to-elf-on-the-shelf/

2. Advent Devotionals

Advent Calendar

I really like the table top advent devotions from Dayspring. They are perfect to read through together as a family. There is also a Shepherd-on-the-search devotional book for advent that is perfect for children and families.

More advent devotionals for yourself and your family:

3. Lift the Flap Advent Calendars

These are so fun! Each day brings a little surprise photo, scripture, or fun idea for activities.

My friend Laura from Meadow House Studios has hand-painted this beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch advent calendar. Each little window hides a surprise painted image.

Laura Poulette advent calendar

More window advent calendars:

4. Interactive Advent Calendars

The wonder of the greatest gift

This gorgeous advent calendar/book comes from Ann Voskamp. The book opens up to reveal a sturdy pop-up tree with 25 lift-the-flap windows. Beneath each little door is a beautifully crafted paper ornament for the tree. It also includes a devotional booklet to read together as a family as you’re discovering and hanging the ornaments.

Other Interactive Advent Calendars:

5. Random Acts of Kindness

What better way to celebrate the season of Christ’s birth than with giving and serving as He did? Being intentional with acts of kindness, generosity, and service is a great way to teach your children, and a fun way to spend time together in this season.

Some Ideas and Printables to get you started:

Bonus Tip: Create your own with a jar and craft sticks. Simply write a number and activity on each stick. Allow your children to decorate them if desired, and pull out the appropriate number each day. Easy Peasy.

An alternative of this would be to include RAK activities, but also other types of fun activities for your family as well.

6. Lego Advent Calendar

This is really just another version of an interactive calendar, but deserved it’s own category. More of a just-for-fun thing to look forward to every day for my Lego-loving boys.

Star Wars Advent Calendar

There are several versions of the Lego Advent Calendar. Each one contains small pieces to build. I’m including a couple of different links so you can compare prices and specials to get the best deal. When I was shopping, Educents had the best price, but the are always subject to change. Be sure to look around you locally as well. (I just happen to live in a very rural area with limited shopping options)

Lego Advent Calendars: 

7. A-Book-A-Day Advent Countdown

Christmas Books

This is such a cute idea that I found from many other bloggers on pinterest. The idea is to wrap up 25 books to unwrap and read one each day during December leading up to Christmas. We love books, and the options are truly limitless! I’m hoping to be able to share my booklist after I get them all together and ready. [You can see here how I get free and cheap books for some ideas]

We could not afford to purchase 25 brand new books for this. Our books will probably come from the following places:

  • Our own bookshelves. This will be a great opportunity to read a few books that have been lost, forgotten and/or never read from our own bookshelves.
  • Goodwill, Salvation Army, Used Bookstores. Many of the books for this project will be used and bargain books from places like that.
  • New books. I will likely buy a couple of new books (likely still on sale!) for this project, but most of them will be used.

Non-Candy Advent ideas


  1. says

    December 1 – January 1 on the Turn2theSimple blog we will be posting daily family devotionals tracing God’s plan from creation to the birth of the Messiah through His death and resurrection and our adoption into God’s family.

    These devotions are designed to be easily do-able for a family. Each devotional is designed to be able to be done in about 5 minutes.

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