100 Ideas for Advent Calendar Fillers
It's great to have a reusable Advent calendar that you can fill up with gifts of your choice every year. From my own experience, however, I know that it can be tricky to think of things to put in it, especially if you are short on time.
You also might not want to pick candy or chocolate for the countdown to Christmas either, so I've come up with some other ideas instead.
This list of 100 fillers is full of small and thoughtful gift ideas for the whole family as well as activities that can be done along the way. I hope you find some inspiration!
1. Sprig of Mistletoe
For your partner, be a little romantic and buy a small sprig of mistletoe to kiss them under after they pluck it out of the calendar. You could also cheat and print out a little picture of mistletoe and write "Kiss?" on the back.
Did you know the real thing is actually poisonous to dogs and cats? If you have pets in the home you're probably better off with the artificial kind. Plus, artificial mistletoe can be used year after year.
2. Sweet Handwritten Seasonal Quotation, Message, or Joke
This could be a verse from a Christmas-themed poem, a passage from the Bible or a seasonal quote. Think of a thoughtful and uplifting message that could be the highlight of your loved one's morning.
If you're feeling goofy, write down a silly cracker-style joke or an inspiring quotation to be enjoyed at the start of the day or at the end of a stressful one.
For the kids, it costs nothing to look online for some kid-friendly Christmasy themed jokes or quotations. Not every day has to have a physical gift. You could even find a quote for every day!
3. Small Framed Photo
You can easily find small plastic photo frames (some of which are magnetic and handy for sticking in the kitchen or on an office magnetic board) that you can fill with a picture of something nice. It's always fun to give people pictures of you together. You could give a photo that is a hint of their Christmas present.
4. Handmade Friendship Bracelet
Handmade gifts are always appreciated, and this is a kitschy idea that will definitely make your partner smile. Add in a note that says, "I'd knot be the same without you."
5. Couple Time Coupons
Struggling to get quality time together during the December rush? Make a little coupon for some much-needed couple time together, even if it is just having a romantic meal in or watching a cute movie together. This is a great DIY gift that is both thoughtful and thrifty.
6. Christmas Picnic
The sun doesn't need to be shining for this activity. How about adding in the promise of a picnic for two in front of the newly decorated Christmas tree? Lay down a cloth to sit on and add a couple of pillows to the floor for a romantic and unique indoor dining experience.
Underwear (for both men and women) can be practical or romantic. Either way, it can roll up easily to fit in those mini drawers!
8. A Lipstick Kiss
It costs nothing to give a lipstick kiss to the one you adore. Find a nice piece of paper and add a cute message too.
9. Love Letter
Another gift that costs nothing at all is writing a sweet little note. If you really want to make a little more effort with this one, how about folding your letter into a heart or other kind of shape using origami.
10. Earrings or Jewelry
If your girlfriend or wife wears jewelry, then small pieces like earrings, a necklace or a charm for a bracelet will be greatly appreciated.
If you're planning to propose, then the Advent calendar is a great way to do that. Imagine the surprise of finding an engagement ring. Or it could be a picture of a ring with "Marry me?" written on the back.
11. Message in a Bottle
Find a tiny glass cork bottle and roll up a little note inside telling your loved one something nice. This can also be made into a necklace.
12. Breakfast in Bed
Nothing is better than someone making breakfast for you, and it's even better if you don't have to leave your bed. Put in a tiny picture of eggs and bacon or something similar to symbolize what you're going to do.
13. Tiny Photo Album
Print off some very small pictures of you two together or your family and put them into a tiny photo album. There are services that can print your photos from Instagram as well.
14. Record a Song
It doesn't matter if you're musically inclined or not, you can make the one you love smile by recording a song for them. You can do this on your own computer or phone, or if you have the time, the money, and the motivation, you could do it at a recording studio.
Make a record out of construction paper for them to see when they open the calendar.
15. Give a Compliment
When you see someone every day, you often forget to tell them how you feel about them. Remind them why you love them.
16. Make a Playlist
If your partner commutes to work or spends some other time during the day listening to music or podcasts, make them a playlist just for them to listen to and think of you.
17. Give a Memento
Do you have any old ticket stubs, receipts, photos, or other mementos that you've kept from your time together as a couple? Why not give it to them with a little note about it and what you remember about that time together?
18. Small Packet of Mints Gift-Wrapped With a Tag That Says, "You and Me are Mint to Be"
Not only is this a practical gift (everyone needs a mint occasionally), it's sweet and thoughtful and it will definitely make your partner chuckle.
19. Handwritten Note
It doesn't cost a thing to write out a few notes. If you can't think of anything to say yourself, then look up some positive quotations online that you can add in for an uplifting way to start the day.
20. A Tiny Flower or Plant
Flowers and plants make any space look more inviting. Get them a tiny potted flower or plant, or just put one flower in the calendar with a nice note.
21. Coffee Bean
Of course you’re not just giving them a coffee bean! Have the coffee bean stand for a coffee together at your favorite cafe or restaurant.
22. A Special Spice
Put a small packet of an interesting spice in the calendar with the promise of making a fantastic meal using it.
23. A Chocolate-Covered Something
(Almost) everyone loves chocolate. This could be a turtle, a chocolate-covered strawberry, a chocolate-covered pretzel, or even just a nice truffle from a special shop.
24. A Drawing or Doodle
It doesn’t matter how terrible you are at drawing, little gifts like this are appreciated because they are unique. If you’re bad at drawing, at least it will be funny.
25. A Tiny Bottle of Massage Oil
Of course, this comes with the promise that you’ll give them a (good) massage that has to last longer than three minutes.
1. Tester-Sized Perfume Bottles and Other Cosmetics
Make your Advent countdown a beauty-themed one and pop in scented smellies, soaps, makeup, nail polish, and more. This is a great idea for a fashion-conscious lady.
2. Activity Ticket
Is there something you would love to do together before Christmas? Book something, maybe a show or a special dinner, and use the tickets as a fun surprise and pop them inside the calendar.
This can also be a fun idea to do for kids if they've been pestering you about a movie or show they've been wanting to see or an attraction they've been wanting to go to.
3. New Tie
Does your man like to dress smart or need to wear ties for work? These can be folded or rolled to fit into the calendar.
4. Facial Masque
Give a lady some 'me time' with the addition of a small face masque or mud pack sachet. If you're partners, you could also add in a note giving her an hour of pamper time while you cook a meal, do some chores, or help out around the home.
5. Lip Balm
Lips quickly get dry during winter months so a yummy lip balm or gloss will help keep them smooth. Lip balms make practical little calendar stuffers and can be used for the whole family too.
6. Nail Polish
Most ladies enjoy jazzing up their toenails even if they don't normally paint their nails, especially for going to those winter parties. Christmas red is a classic choice for toes. For something more adventurous, how about a glitter gold?
Lots of girls also love nail polish so they can look just like Mom or an older sister. Try some fun sparkling shades for the celebratory season.
7. Hair Accessories
Women who enjoy dressing up their hair will welcome clips, styling bands, and elastics. Look for traditional holiday colors such as red and green, or go for sparkly silver and gold.
8. Diary or Pocket Calendar
A little pocket-sized diary or calendar is ideal for someone to pop into a purse or bag.
Bookmarks are still useful even though so many of us now have Kindles or electronic reading devices. I still use bookmarks to quickly find favorite recipes in my cookbooks. They are also something that you can make yourself.
There are plenty of places online where you can print off your own bookmarks onto card paper. Or you can just make your own and decorate it with a seasonal theme.
10. A Christmas Ornament
This makes a wonderful holiday-themed gift to add into any calendar. You can also pop in a note to say that you want to decorate the tree together. Like making your own decorations? Look online for some DIY-crafts.
11. Mini Notepad
A little notepad is always a handy gift. I keep one in my bag so I can quickly jot things down while I'm out and about. How about writing a sweet message on the first page?
Kids also appreciate mini notepads, especially ones with fun covers that have sparkles or favorite characters on them.
12. Small Scented Soap
Small hand soaps make wonderful wee gifts and fillers.
13. Spectacle Chain for Someone Who Wears Glasses
Chains are a fun accessory that will be appreciated by anyone who has a tendency to lose their glasses.
14. Kitchen Magnet
Lots of people enjoy collecting cute magnets to go in their kitchen—I know I do! These are a nice small size and they are small on your budget too.
Seed packets are small and inexpensive fillers. They're great for someone who loves to grow things like flowers and herbs.
16. Minibar-Sized Alcohol
If someone likes a tipple, minibar-sized bottles of liquor are ideal for fitting into an calendar, just a little taster to enjoy in the evening after a hard day at work.
17. Festive Nuts
It's traditional to eat nuts at Christmas time and walnuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts in particular are seasonal choices to opt for.
Pop some into a little bag or square of cloth and tie with ribbon as a cute gift for one of the days. You could also spread some between lots of the pockets.
18. Party Popper
Party poppers are fun! You could save some for the very last box or pocket on the Advent calendar to celebrate reaching Christmas.
19. Custom USB Stick or Memory Card
Buy a USB stick or memory card for your friend or loved one. If you wanted to, you could fill it with a selection of your favorite photos throughout the years. It's especially fun if you can find some photos of them as a child for a pleasant trip down memory lane. Of course, you could always leave it blank as well.
There's a Lego minifigure for just about every job, hobby, skill or interest that you can even think of and these are the ideal size for fun fillers too.
20. Keychain or Keyring
Keychains are often inexpensive. I like the Lego mini-figure ones. You could use the same idea as with the photo frame. Buy a blank photo keychain and pop a special picture inside to personalize it.
My husband loves the one I made for him with a photo of our daughter. It didn't cost much but it meant a lot and he will never throw it away.
21. Stamps for Mailing Cards
A useful and practical idea is to pop in some festive stamps to use for mailing Christmas cards or letters. Make sure these go earlier in the calendar so they can be sent before Christmas.
Some guys love wearing cufflinks with their dress shirts. Buy some novelty pairs which are fun for the holiday season.
23. Make Eggnog or Mulled Wine
Pop in instructions for making a traditional winter or Christmas drink. Just make sure all the ingredients are available at home.
24. Mini Rubik's Cube or Puzzle
Lots of people enjoy little puzzles. Get a mini Rubik's cube or puzzle like a small 3D maze to enjoy.
25. Pin Badge
Pin-back badges are plentiful and you can find them everywhere. They're an ideal size for a calendar and you can buy them in bulk for all kinds of occasions too.
Try making one yourself from foam or even from fused Perler beads as a cute surprise.
26. Mini Flashlight
My husband loves these and has many more than he needs. In fact most men I know seem to like and collect them, but they're useful for everyone. You can also get cute little keyring torches which make fun fillers.
27. Disposable Camera for Silly Pics
When the tree is decorated, why not give a disposable camera to take silly photos in front of it. This is a fun activity and one that the whole family can enjoy.
28. Tiny Paper Snowflake Chain
Make an itty bitty winter decoration for them to hang on their desk at work, on their dresser, or wherever they want to bring some fun holiday cheer.
29. Painted Stone
Paint a stone and use a sharpie to write a meaningful message or inspirational word on top. You could also turn this into monster rocks for kids: Paint a bright color over the rock, then draw a funny mouth and stick googly eyes on.
30. Washi Tape Tea Light Candle
Wrap some pretty washi tape around the side of an ordinary tea light to make it look special.
31. Cookie Cutters
You can buy cookie cutters in themed sets which are great as separate and affordable fillers. Look for the mini cutters or ones that are small enough to fit in the countdown calendar. This is perfect for someone who loves to bake. Choose some for the season that they'll look forward to using. Kids also like cookie cutters.
32. Mini Set of Playing Cards
Playing cards always come in handy from time to time, and though mini sets are more of a novelty item, they're still fun to receive and to give.
33. Marshmallow Snowman
Wrap three white puffed marshmallows with clear cello wrap and draw a snowman face with a carrot-shaped nose on the cello with a sharpie. This is a cute gift that can bring some holiday spirit to their workspace or home.
34. Charms for a Charm Bracelet
Give as many or as few as you want! There’s a lot of room for personalization with charm bracelets. You’ll find something your loved one likes.
35. A Workout
If you’re the kind of couple (or family) that likes to keep it fit, plan out a killer workout for you guys to do together.
1. Decorate the Tree
Don't let your partner do the tree on their own. Make it a couple or a family activity instead and set aside a day to do that by popping a note into the calendar on the date you choose.
It's always more fun when one person isn't doing all the work.
2. Family Clear Out
Another good activity is to have a family tidy and clear out day, where you go through your home and give unwanted items to a good cause for the season of goodwill.
3. Christmas Tree Shopping
Not so much of a gift but a good Christmas-themed activity is to choose your tree. Perhaps you can go together or with the whole family. If someone goes out by themselves, make sure there are some nice treats for them to eat when they get back.
4. Family Game Night
Schedule in a game night so you can enjoy playing together as a couple or as a family. Have lots of fun!
5. Holiday Baking
Pop a simple recipe into the calendar for a baking session for two or for the whole family. You could even share your gingerbread men, Christmas cupcakes, chocolate candy or other creations with friends and neighbors for the spirit of the giving season.
Kids (and adults) love taking pictures of themselves. Get your phones and have a wacky photo shoot with all the props you can find in your house, or go to the dollar store and get some just for the occasion.
7. Snowball Fight
When was the last time you all went out and fought each other in the snow? If it’s been too long, and you have snow on the ground, put cotton balls in the calendar with a note promising a hard core fight.
8. Top Chef Challenge
Put a tiny spatula or spoon in the calendar to symbolize a top chef cook-off in your kitchen. Divide the family into two, and compete against each other to make the best food. Have an impartial judge decide who wins, and everyone gets to eat the spoils!
Give out silly-looking rings to everyone in the family and say what superpower each one has (like being invisible, flying, or talking to animals). That entire day, you have to respect the other person’s superpower (within reason). This will work best with young children (and fun parents!)
10. Family Craft Night
Have everyone make something holiday-themed to decorate the house with, whether it’s a picture, something knitted, or another kind of art that hasn’t been invented yet.
1. Lip Gloss
Lip glosses are small, easy to buy, and come in a range of interesting and fun flavors.
2. Doll Accessories
If they enjoy playing with Barbie or another popular doll brand, why not get some new sets of clothes or shoes.
3. Beads and Elastic
Crafty kids will enjoy being given some elastic and a selection of beads to make a sweet bracelet for themselves. You could pop this into one pocket or spread it out over many days. You could also add in some bands or charms to make the popular rubber band bracelets.
4. Reading Christmas Books Together
A sweet activity is to snuggle up and read Christmas-themed books together. You don't need to buy any books since you can always borrow some from the library that they will enjoy looking at during this time of year. Pop a note in to schedule some quality time together for reading.
5. Hair Accessories
Most girls enjoy hair accessories, either for themselves or for their long-haired dolls. You can get a packet of hair items and distribute them through several pockets or drawers.
6. Writing a Letter to Santa
For many children, this is part and parcel of the run-up to Christmas day. So why not make it part of the countdown fun? You could include some fun paper or pens in the calendar to be used as part of the activity.
7. Stick-on Earrings
You can get clip-on or girl's play earrings if she doesn't have pierced ears already.
8. Clown Nose or Other Dress-Up Item
Clown noses, bushy fake eyebrows, or fake mustaches are just some of the fun dress-up items you can slip into the calendar. They may be small, but they pack a fun punch!
9. Make Holiday Cards
A great activity for December is to sit down and make some cards together. Put a sequin or something similar in the calendar to symbolize the activity along with a note.
10. Visit Santa Claus
One activity that you can use as a treat is a trip to see Santa Claus. Pop a cutout of Santa (try an old Christmas card) into the December date when you're planning to visit. Younger children get the most out of special trips like this which make their memories of Christmas time extra wonderful.
Rolls of stickers or strips will fit best in a calendar. Larger sheets can be cut down to size. You can also get pre-shaped foam stickers which are a lot of fun for crafty kids.
To make it more fun, you could make a sticker scene out of card. How about a nativity scene with farm animals, stars, and some nativity stickers?
See if you can find any holiday-themed erasers to pop in as small and practical gifts.
13. Small Plastic Toy Figures
Do they like farm animals, butterflies, sea life, fairies, or even creepy crawlies? You can find lots of inexpensive tubs filled with plastic toys that can be used for many different days of fun.
14. New Toothbrush
My daughter enjoys it when she is allowed to get a fancy toothbrush, one that makes a noise or that has a favorite character on it. This makes it both a practical and a novelty item for the Advent countdown.
15. Fun Foam Keychains
Foam key rings are fun for kids to make themselves. You can get kits or make your own by getting blank keychains and foam which you can cut into shapes that are ready to be stuck together using a simple adhesive like glue dots.
If you are good at drawing, cut out an X-mas stocking shape from foam and decorate it with smaller cut foam pieces or use stickers and flat-backed gems.
16. Rubber Craft Stamps
For kids who like arts and crafts, a rubber stamp is a great addition to the craft drawer, and you could get a mini ink pad to use with it. Pop them in the same pocket or in different ones.
17. Watch a Christmas Movie
Get in the mood for the upcoming day by watching some fun Xmas family movies together. Pop a coupon inside for the event. Why not fix up some popcorn and some delicious hot chocolate too?
18. Tidy Bedroom and Donate Unwanted Toys
Of course, kids may not view this as a treat. But since this is the season of goodwill and giving, it is a time to think about other people who may not be so fortunate. It is a good experience to clear out toys that can be donated to a good cause, and you could offer something in exchange for giving away unwanted toys.
19. Little Lego or Playmobil Figures
Many children love Lego and Playmobil. Minifigs are ideal filler gifts. You could also get a small set and spread the pieces and instructions out over the days in your calendar. Then they will finally have a whole set to build on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
20. Silly Bands
Silly bands are fun, small, inexpensive and come in lots of different shapes. Find some to match the time of year or ones that appeal to their interests.
21. Temporary Tattoos
Lots of kids enjoy temporary tattoos which can be bought individually or in strips that you can cut down. There are also temporary tattoos that look like jewelry that are fun for girls especially.
22. Trading Cards
Trading cards are a great addition for a young collector and they will also fit into the pockets of most calendars.
23. Strips of Paper to Make Paperchains
An easy and cheap idea is to cut up lots of colored strips of paper for making your own paper chain decorations.
24. Glow Sticks
Glow sticks can be very fun. You can get mini varieties that kids can play with and use for glow-in-the-dark playtime or activate them and throw them in the bath for glowing bathtub fun.
25. Wind-Up Toys
Small wind-up toys are the ideal filler size and are fun for kids to play with. You can get little wind-up toys for the bath too. This is perfect for water-loving kids.
26. Small Plastic Toys
Do they like collecting plastic toys and figures? There are some great sets which feature themes such as knights, soldiers, farm animals, bugs, marine life, and more. These can be spread out through the days of December.
Lots of kids enjoy getting some money. You can also do some math and counting activities with the coins.
28. Small Bouncy Ball
Small rubber balls make fun toys for kids who no longer put everything in their mouth.
29. Rubber Stamps
Kids who enjoy arts and crafts will like rubber stamps that are pressed onto ink pads and then paper to create a mini design. You can buy single stamps or bigger sets that can be split up and divided among different days. Don't forget to get a stamping ink pad too.
For older kids, marbles can be tons of fun. Children can invent lots of games with them, including counting, sorting, collecting and trading. Mostly, however, they are good for shooting across the floor.
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