How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget

10 tips for building your family's #christmas #book collection without busting your #budget!

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…

Book Advent Calendar

Here’s what I got just shopping my own shelves and including chapter books!

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!)

Advent Book Calendar

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  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!

Advent Book Calendar on a Budget

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.

How to build a Christmas book Advent Calendar on a Budget

I spent one naptime wrapping everything (with gift wrap from the dollar store!) and we are ready for December 1st!

10 tips for building your family's #christmas #book collection without busting your #budget!


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!)


11 responses to “How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget”

  1. Katie Bennett Avatar

    I love your idea to include the Little House Christmas chapters. That will be a perfect way to round out our set of Christmas books this year!

    1. Trina Avatar

      It was called using what I have and saving the budget! But the Little House books are such a treat, and the chapters stand alone pretty well, so it’s really fun.

  2. Kyleigh Hodgson Avatar
    Kyleigh Hodgson

    We do this in our house in New Zealand too – favourites include The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Richard Scarry, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Christmas by Ronda Armitage, Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans, The Christmas Truce by Carol Ann Duffy, A Kiwi Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison, Arthur Christmas (DVD), Horrible Christmas by Terry Deary and Martin Brown (a Horrible Histories book about Christmas traditions), Dr Who – Twelve Doctors of Christmas (a book based on Christmas Dr Who episodes), Piggity Wiggity Jiggity Jig and the Christmas Baby by Diana Neild, and Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs.

  3. Jane Avatar

    Hi Trina!
    Thanks for the great idea! The Book Advent Calendar was a huge hit at our house. Below is a link to the blog post I did with reviews of the books that I chose. I found some treasures in your post–hope you can find some in mine!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Jane, thanks so much for sharing! Love it!

  4. […] books! We love pulling out or unwrapping a new title for each day of December. We have done an Book Advent Calendar basket for a few years now, where we wrap up 24 Christmas picture books (in brown paper from Dollar […]

  5. […] How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget from Trina Holden […]

  6. Debbie Avatar

    What a great idea! I will be collecting books during the year and doing this with my grandkids next Christmas.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Great plan, Debbie!

  7. […] How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget from Trina Holden […]

  8. EmmaMart Avatar

    Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one
    day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.

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