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  • Writer's pictureTracy Bottiglieri

Holiday Countdowns For Creating More Excitement and Joy!

While Christmas and Hannukah are still a couple of holidays away, I wanted to give you enough time to plan and create something meaningful for a special person in your life!

First, do you know what Advent is? Have you heard of or used an Advent Calendar before?

Thanks to First News out of the UK and Kapwing video editing software, I offer you a short informational video to explain Advent. I hope you enjoy it! (It is kind of like being in school, right? And I'm the teacher. 🤓 )

In a year when we have had so little

with which to look forward to enjoying,

what better time to give someone you care about

an Advent Calendar or Hanukkah Countdown Calendar?

How To Make A Personalized Advent Calendar or

Hanukkah Countdown Calendar:

STEP ONE: Gather Your Supplies.

You will need:

  • Cardstock paper, 14 x 8.5 size, white

  • Exacto knife

  • Cutting mat

  • Computer and Color Printer

STEP TWO: Select the Pattern You Want To Create.

Each picture below is linked to a printable pdf.

Print your calendar pattern choice on cardstock.

Choices for Christmas Advent Calendar (3):

Because I have so many friends of the Jewish faith,

I wanted to share this special activity with them!

A Countdown Calendar for each night of Hanukkah.

Choices for Hanukkah Countdown Calendar (2):

dark blue and white hanukkah calendar
Simple Hanukkah 8-Nights Calendar

STEP THREE: Cut the Calendar Windows.

Lay the cardboard printout of the calendar on the cutting mat. With your Exacto knife, carefully trim each window LEAVING THE LEFT EDGE ON EACH SQUARE UNCUT. The left edge will act as a flap or "window" to be opened by the recipient.

STEP FOUR: Determine Who Will Be the Recipient of the Calendar?

A friend? Parent? Grandparent? Child?

Based on the recipient's age, the recipient's interests, your budget, etc., select the appropriate items to include in your calendar from STEP FIVE.

STEP FIVE: Create The Surprises Behind Each Calendar Window.

What items do you want to include in the calendar?

The following are some categories and ideas from which you can select.

OR you can brainstorm some ideas of your own.

Activity - something for the recipient and you to do together!


  • Let’s play a game. Your choice!

  • Let's bake together...cookie? muffins? cupcakes?

  • Visit a local nature park or conservation area.

  • Map out an ___-mile walk or hike for us to take together!

  • Jigsaw puzzle and beverage of choice!

  • Watch a movie - your choice!

  • Sit by the firepit and chat!

Treat - a special something to give to your recipient!


  • My treat for coffee or your favorite hot beverage!

  • Your favorite candy!

  • My treat for a glass of your favorite Happy Hour beverage!

  • Let me know that you opened the SPECIAL SURPRISE window…and I’ll surprise you later.

  • Ice cream or another dessert: your choice!

Words - special sentiments for your recipient!


  • Characteristics that you admire about the recipient.

  • Something that you learned from the recipient.

  • An appropriate wish(es) you have for the recipient.

  • Include several inspirational and fitting quotes.

Questions - something you would like to ask the recipient to know them better!


  • What was your favorite toy when you were little? Why did you enjoy it?

  • What family trip do you remember the most? What if you like about it? Dislike?

  • What was your favorite job as a kid? How much were you paid? Least favorite job? Why did you not like it?

  • Did you have chores you were assigned as a child? What were they? Did you get an allowance?

  • What was your neighborhood like where you grew up?

  • What did your family do for fun when you were a kid?

  • How did you decide on a career?

STEP SIX: Complete The Window Surprise Boxes.

Click on the Word document templates below and fill in the text box spaces with all of your ideas! Make sure that the PAGE FORMAT is the same size as the cardstock you used for the calendar cover. In other words, if you used the 14 inch x 8.5 inch, as I suggested, make sure your background with text boxes is formatted as a 14 inch x 8.5 inch page.

Christmas Advent Calendar Word Document Template:

Advent Calendar Background Sheet Templat
Download • 517KB

Countdown to Hanukkah Word Document Template:

Countdown Hanukkah Calendar Blank Templa
Download • 157KB


In case you do not want to create your own, below are completed WINDOW SURPRISE BACKGROUNDS for the Christmas Advent AND the Hanukkah Countdown calendars. They are nearly completed for you, simply requiring a few write-ins in certain squares. Please check them carefully so as not to miss a blank space. ☺️

STEP SEVEN: Finish Making The Calendar!

  1. Print out your COMPLETED WINDOW SURPRISE BACKGROUND on cardstock (or regular paper). Make sure it is printed in the same size as the cover page of your calendar.

  2. Attach the TOP of the calendar you chose to the completed WINDOW SURPRISE BACKGROUND you completed. You can glue it, tape it, or staple it together.

  3. Make sure the windows line up with the Window Surprise Background text boxes below so that the recipient can enjoy opening one window each day!


Special Note: This project was inspired by the gift my boys gave me for Mother's Day 2020. Each window revealed a thought about what I meant to them, what I had taught them, and so on. Each of my sons created half of the calendar's window text boxes. Not surprisingly, it is one of my most treasured gifts from them ever.

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