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In this post: Have you ever wanted to make your own Advent calendar? Create this fun and versatile paper bag advent calendar for your family this year!

As a mom, I’m always trying to make the Holidays special, to create memories and traditions for our children that they will treasure long after they’ve grown into adults and moved away from home. Creating a yearly advent calendar around the Holidays – and opening one special little package each day leading up to Christmas – is one way to do that.

When they were all quite a bit smaller, we just bought that year’s themed advent calendars filled with cheap chocolate from the store. It seemed the easiest and cheapest thing to do. Until we discovered a few easy and economical DIY ideas for making our own!

This version of our paper bag advent calendar uses very inexpensive materials that you can find at your local grocery store, dollar store or craft store. And it can be customized and reused year after year by filling it with whatever your heart desires!

Advent Calendar Final Product Context (full, with xmas)

How to Make Your Own Advent Calendar with Paper Bags

Advent Calendar Final Product Context (full, with xmas)



1. Fold top of brown paper lunch bag back about a half an inch. This will simply help you to visually center the placement of your doilies and numbers.

make your own advent calendar

2. Apply glue by rubbing glue stick onto center front of brown paper bag. Place one doily on top of glue and press down to affix. Repeat for 24 (or 25) bags.

Advent Calendar Step 2 Glue Doilies

3. Using white marker number all of the bags from 1 to 24 (or 25).

 Advent Calendar Step 3 Write Numbers

4. Hang two lengths of jute/string/yarn where you wish to display your advent calendar. The bags will hang best if each length is about 3 feet long.

5. Open and fill each bag with desired goodies. Fold over the top of the bag again when finished. (See tips section for ideas on what to fill your advent bags with.)

Advent Calendar Final Product (Bags done)

6. Starting on the bottom length of jute/string/yarn hang each filled paper bag numbered 12-24 (or 25) on jute/string/yarn with a clothes pin. Repeat on the top length of jute/string/yarn with the bags labeled from number 1-12. Adjust bag spacing if necessary. 

Advent Calendar Final Product

Non-Candy Advent Calendar Fillers

Don’t want to fill your advent bags with the typical cheap chocolates? Try these fun ideas instead :

  • Daily scripture or memory verse
  • Encouragement notes to share
  • Ideas for a fun family activity – like a movie night, driving around to see Christmas lights, etc.
  • Snacks like individually wrapped cookies, snack bars, etc.
  • Lego, maybe to build something large on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning
  • Gift cards for coffee, favorite shops, etc.
  • Reprints of old family photos
  • Coupons for hand, foot or back massages
  • Books/magazines
  • Gum or other candy
  • Comics
  • Craft or drawing supplies

Grab even more ideas: 50+ Advent Calendar Ideas, Fillers, and Activities for the Whole Family

make your own paper bag advent calendar

What other alternatives to candy can you think of for Advent Calendars?

P.S. If you like Make Your Own Advent Calendars, you may like our other Advent Calendar project too. 

shannon pixie photo and signature

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

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