I love the idea of starting the tradition of a book advent calendar for my kids like this Christmas book tradition from my childhood. I love that it’s a fun advent activity that doesn’t actually take a lot of time or effort but results in quality time with my kids every day during this busy season.
But the idea of buying 2 dozen new books at this time of year just isn’t in the budget! So, I started thinking of creative ways we could begin building our own Christmas book collection, and I came up with…
10 Tips for Building a Book Avent Calendar on a Budget
1. Shop your own bookshelf. You may be surprised at what you’ll find that fits the Christmas theme!
2. Add in classics or chapter books that have a favorite Christmas story in them. For instance, most of the Little House Books have lovely Christmas stories and whether or not your children are familiar with Laura yet, they make nice, stand alone readings…
Here’s what I got just shopping my own shelves and including chapter books!
- Chapter 4 in Little House in the Big Woods
- Chapter 26 in Farmer Boy
- Chapter 19 in Little House on the Prairie
- Chapters 12 and 13 in On the Banks of Plum Creek
- Chapter 21 in By the Shores of Silver Lake
- Chapter 18 in The Long Winter
That’s six books right there! Other series that include Christmas stories are the American Girl Books.
3. Spend an hour browsing at the thrift store. You may not find a title on your wish list, but you will fill a space on the calendar for $1 or less. You can gradually replace them with higher quality books in coming years. (Unless, of course, that cheap paperback becomes a family favorite!)
This was what I found at one thrift store after an hour spent browsing. The kids were with me and loved a chance to sit and read books to their heart’s content while I hunted! Look at that gorgeous Brian Wildsmith one!
4. Go ahead and fill out an Amazon Wish List. Then mention to grandparents or other interested parties of the tradition you are trying to build. If they’re anything like my kid’s grandparents, they’ll love getting in on the plan. Just make sure they know you need their contribution before Christmas! (And find my list of 50 best Christmas books here!)
5. Check out Half.com. Many titles are less than a dollar, and if you buy multiple books from one seller, the shipping goes down to $1.70 per title, meaning you could add new titles to your collection for as little as $2.50 each!
6. Use the library. Get there early in the season (preferably the end of November) so you have a good selection of titles, and can get them wrapped and read in the first week of advent. Renew if you have to. 😉
7. Think outside the box–or books. Wrap up a Christmas CD, a cookbook with your favorite Christmas cookie recipe, or even a few movies to fill in the blanks. Or find an audio book to listen to during holiday road trips. Or a puzzle with a Christmas theme!
Here’s what I came up with for our advent calendar. I shopped the house, thrift store, and got creative.
8. Start Small. Can’t find 25 books? Cut it in half and just do the 12 days leading up to Christmas. You can grow gradually.
9. Broaden the theme. If the book has snow, let it count!
10. The Original Christmas Story. Yup–this one’s so obvious, I almost overlooked it–thanks to Caroline of TheModestMomBlog for this idea–wrap a Bible and read Luke 2!
What I actually spent on my Book Advent Calendar:
It only took me 2 days and $5 to build our first ever Christmas book advent calendar. I do hope to gradually replace movies with books, and paperbacks with sturdier classics, but meanwhile I’m super excited that we get to do it this year.
I spent one naptime wrapping everything (with gift wrap from the dollar store!) and we are ready for December 1st!
With these ideas–and a few more I hope you’ll share in the comments–I think we can pull this off. Are you in?
P.S. if you already do this tradition or something similar, would you share your favorite Christmas books in the comments on this post? Thanks!!!
(This post contains affiliate links–shopping through affiliate links is a great way to bless bloggers during the holidays!)