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25 simple, beautiful advent calendars

YOU GUYS. Guess what Andy did. The kid actually, completely pulled off a surprise 30th birthday for me! That little deceiver.

Oh yeah – he planned the whole thing in our house, where I had been hanging out just a couple hours before.

So that’s why he was cleaning so ferociously that day. Inside our microwave.

I’m a hopeless extrovert, so he knew nothing makes me excited and energized more than having so many of my favorite people in one spot. Nothing makes Mila and Weston more excited and energized than a dessert table. (They are so my offspring.)
Kids at dessert table
Such a fun surprise!

Imagine that I had inserted a good transition to advent calendars at this point — something about holidays? Happy surprises? It’s there, I know it. Last week, I showed you our little rustic advent tree:

And lots of you commented or emailed me to talk about other advent ideas. I’d already collected lots of advent-errific inspiration when I was planning our advent tree, so I thought I’d share it all with you in one spot. Get ready for an advent-ure. (HAR HAR. OMG. Who let me get access to the internet?)

Do you do anything for advent? It’ll be here in like five minutes, guys. November is FLYIN’! What are your plans? Tell me all about it.

SO many awesome advent calendar ideas you can make in a couple hours! Can not wait to try these!

Let's connect


  1. how awesome is your hubby?!?! SO sweet- love that photo! and love these ideas- that branch one is SOOOO fun! thank you so much for including mine, too! so glad andy pulled off a great surprise or such a deserving woman. 🙂

  2. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I love the special meaningful advent calendars but of course that’s not what my kiddos want 😉 they want lego calendars. I adore the luminary one!

  3. I love that weird cardboard box display… and I bet my cats would too. haha!

  4. We’ve never done anything for Advent, though we’ve really wanted to. (I am a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE seasonal festivities person. I was ostracized as an elementary teacher for not having any seasonal/holiday clothing. Ok, not really, but almost.) So I am loving this list! Hopefully I something here will draw me out of my anti-holiday-hoopla cave. 😉

  5. Happy Birthday!! 🙂

  6. I love it all!

    “cleaning inside the microwave” haha! i’ll know what red flags to look for now 😉

    Happy Birthday Chica!!

  7. I love your surprised picture 🙂 also, advent seems like an impossible number of days in a row to actually remember to do something meaningful . . .

  8. I am laughing – again! As usual 🙂 You know, if your kids love chocolate…we had “candy ribbons” all through our childhood, with a string of hershey’s kisses. Eat on every evening after dinner. It’s a ‘sweet’ way to count the days…

    Happy birthday!

  9. First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! What a sweet husband! I hope you had a great one 🙂 Second of all, I LOVE all of these advent ideas. I am working on our Christmas tour and the one thing I haven’t figured out yet is a brilliant advent calendar idea 🙂 Maybe I’ll take the lead from one of these beauties!

  10. Welcome to 30!! It’s fabulous 🙂 How sweet of your hubby to pull off a surprised party for you!! Love that!

    A friend of mine made an advent calendar for her sister a couple of years ago (and guest posted on my blog: I’d love to make or get an advent calendar for my little guy- I love them! We had a wooden tree advent calendar growing up- each day you took an ornament out of its numbered spot and hung it on the tree- loved doing that each year 🙂 We also used to get the chocolate filled ones- those chocolates were GROSS. But fun nonetheless! 🙂

  11. Whoo hoo–surprise party! good job, Andy! I have a very…sparkly idea for our advent calendar this year. Otherwise I’d totally be stealing one of these. Great roundup….our kids don’t know how lucky they are: having parents who blog and therefore feel pressured to make awesome advent calendars instead of just buying one with cruddy chocolate from Trader Joe’s. (uhh, we do that, too, though)

  12. WELL happy birthday! what a sweet surprise!

  13. Glad you had such a fun birthday surprise!!! 30 is coming up for me in a few months…how does it feel??

    I’ve been sewing away on my advent calendar for about a week now. It’s taking way too much of my time but I am hoping to have it done very soon!! Why did I take on such a daunting task??? I blame it on my crazy pregnancy hormones:)


  14. Happy Birthday!!! Love all the advent ideas, thanks for including mine.

  15. Great surprise photo! I think your hubby is awesome for throwing you a party!

    I have an advent calendar that is made from felt and just has pockets on it. GOt it a few years ago at Michael’s and love it. We have just been stuffing it with our favorite candy, but this year I’m going to add verses since my kiddos are getting older and can understand.

    I snagged the printables with verses and a discussion question on them from Moments With My Miracles:

  16. Happy Birthday, friend!!! And thanks for including my family photo advent calendar, I just pulled it out again this year and it’s making me all kinds of happy. I love this roundup of ideas, all are unique and wonderful. I’m going to have like 3 advent calendars this year with all these great ideas out there. 😉

  17. Happy Birthday! What a great surprise and what a great husband you have! 🙂

  18. I can’t believe it! My little post was included in your round up! What incredible news- thanks so much Kelly!

  19. I LOVE advent calendars! Fun round up of brilliance, Kelly!
    xo Heidi
    PS — Such a sweet hubby you have. 🙂 HB!

  20. So many brilliant ideas! Thanks for collecting and sharing these

  21. Glad you had a great birthday surprise and thanks for sharing my calendar! Have a great week, Laura

  22. That is so awesome that he pulled of a surprise party! And I love all these advent calendars. It makes me want to make all kinds of them.

    And like the awesome DIYer I am, I’ll do none of them. 😉

  23. Happy Birthday and thanks so much for including my advent calendar in your round-up!

  24. I’m glad your party was a success! There is a nothing better than a joyous surprise. And desserts too of course.
    Love all the advent calendar ideas. One of these years I’ll actually make one.

  25. What a great surprise! You know something’s up when the microwave is clean! Ha! It would be the same in my house too!

    Love your advent calendar idea and round-up!

  26. I love that Andy cleaned the microwave for your party. 🙂 Great round-up! We have no advent calendar. We started one last year and never finished it in time, which is sort of critical if you are to not miss the point of the advent countdown. 😛 Maybe this year…

  27. I love these! I’ve been thinking of doing an advent calendar, but I have too many ideas to narrow it down!

  28. Happy Belated Birthday! What a sweet husband to pull off that party!! =)
    This year will be my first year making a DIY calendar; fingers crossed it turns out cute! Thanks for all these ideas!

  29. Thanks for sharing! I think every year I plan to create an advent calendar but then before I know it, it is already the middle of December! Maybe I can get on it this year…maybe. Love these ideas, especially the candles and coffee cup ideas! CUTE!

  30. Your face is priceless! I have to run now. Extroverts suck energy from introverts like myself. 😛 (Happy belated birthday!!!)

  31. I can’t believe he pulled that off. Amazing. Husband of the year everybody! Also I love these advent ideas!

  32. Now that is an awesome hubby! What a fun way to celebrate your big 3-0! And so many cute advent ideas! I actually shared ours today too– some tiny little envelopes + a few rolls of washi tape = instant advent calendar, lol. Hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving, Kelly!

    ~Abby =)

  33. Happity birthday, Kelly! Andy is such a treasure!


  1. […] PS: Advent season begins tomorrow! Check out this post for easy, beautiful advent ideas! […]

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