This is the one we've done the past few years, that my boys brought home from preschool. It's just a printable Santa head, and the kids glue on a cotton ball each day, filling up the beard. My boys loved this one, but...I wanted something more special.
My sister-in-law told me about this Christmas Book Advent idea a few years ago and said it went over wonderfully with her children. You collect a Christmas book for each day of December, wrap them all up and put them in a basket. Then each night, the kids take turns choosing one to unwrap and you read it together at bedtime. LOVED this idea. I even went through Amazon that year and started compiling a list of best-loved children's Christmas books. The price tag on that shopping cart was getting waaay out of control. If I'm going to do this one, I need to build a collection over a few years, by buying the books on sale after Christmas ; )
A very creative version that I fell in love with in craft-blog-land was this one by Chris at Pickup Some Creativity. It's the first one I've seen where you button something on. Oh this gives me so many ideas!! I also love the fact that she used the Bible verse "For we have seen his star in the East" Matthew 2:2 as her design inspiration.
I saw this cute magnetic Advent Countdown using a muffin tin! and filed that ingenious idea away in my brain as well. Thanks to Pat at Frosted Designs for sharing this one!
This is a beautiful, quilted, pocket wall-hanging version,
by Elizabeth, as featured on Sew, Mama, Sew!
Here's another quilted wall hanging, where each day you loop a small "ornament" over a button on the tree above. This is so sweet and modern. Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio sure has some talent!
I also ran across several envelope-types with activities inside for each day, like this from Blue Cricket Design
Or the same project, displayed banner style like Stevi did at Live, Love, Craft
And check out these cutie garland-style ones...
Of course Martha did this one with baby socks. Love this idea!!
Here's a tutorial to make little burlap stockings from Tiffany at Making the World Cuter
Wouldn't this be cute with these tiny fleece mittens, too??
I love this felt stocking version from Cindy at Skip to My Lou, too
Or how 'bout this garland using toilet paper tubes? From maya*made
And if that's not enough inspiration, go browse this list of
30 more advent calendars at Whip Up
like these fabric cones...
or 24 more at Tip Junkie
I love the mini buckets! And magnets on a painted cookie sheet!