Anticipation is half the fun! Start a family tradition with these ideas for counting down to the big day.

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Digital Calendar

For a creative digital option that entertain both kids and adults, consider Lacquie Lawson’s beautifully illustrated online Advent Calendar ($5 at Each day reveals a new scene, with animation, games, puzzles and more.

LEGO Calendar

For a young builder, LEGO Advent Calendar sets ($29.99-$39.99 at are a good choice. Opening a calendar window reveals a new mini figure or model to build each day, for a total of 24 creations. Themes for 2020 include LEGO City, LEGO Friends, Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Apps for Mobile Devices

Track the days leading up to the holiday on your mobile device. Christmas Countdown 2021 (ages 4 and up) has fun snowy scenes and music. Advent Calendar 2021 (ages 9 and up) has daily games and doors to open. Look for more options on Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

DIY Countdown

Write or print enough kid-friendly activities for the number of days in your countdown. Place the activity slips in numbered envelopes. Clip the envelopes to a yarn or string hung atop a doorframe or looped along a mantle, or tape them to the fridge in a tree shape. Or number small paper gift bags and put a small ornament or treat in each one. Put them in a basket or on the mantel and open one each day.

Countdown a with Book

Read a story each day from 25 Days of the Christmas Story by Josh and Christi Straub. Each one highlights a different person, place, or object from the Christmas story to reinforce a daily theme. There’s room for parents and kids to journal and record memories each year ($12.99 at B&H Publishing).

Countdown with Friends

These characters appear yearly and encourage kids to behave. They may leave messages, get into trouble around the house, dress up or just hide in a new spot every night. Create your own holiday visitor with a special plush character; the kids’ toys could even break out of their toy box and get into mischief every night!

Do-Good Elf
This baby elf comes directly from Santa’s workshop and needs kids to help him learn the difference between naughty and nice ($24.99 at barnesand

Reindeer in Here
A cute book and plush reindeer arrive in early December; one short antler helps kids learn to celebrate their individuality, and that being different is good ($29.99 at

 The Mensch on the Bench
Moshe the Mensch and his accompanying book teach the lessons of Hanukkah and help families celebrate with a new tradition. ($29.99 at

The Elf on the Shelf
The elf who started it all has his own musical, an extensive wardrobe, and even breakfast cereal. Choose from a boy or girl elf with light or dark skin and plenty of elf accessories. $31.45 at

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