Advent Calendars are no exception to the holidays being all about food. And there are some great gluten free advent calendars out there. But what about alternatives to them?
Celiac children need their Advent Calendar to be gluten free, with a strong preference for Certified Gluten Free. There are many options for gluten free Advent Calendars. There are also non-food alternatives for Advent Calendars. Candy-free Advent Calendars are a great way to engage with the whole family over the holidays.
I’ve done many different versions of Advent Calendars over the years. The kids love getting some treats every night and knowing that Christmas is one day closer. I have found that there is so much candy around during the holidays that choosing alternatives for the Advent Calendar adds to the family dynamic instead of the holiday sugar-high.
What Are Some Alternatives To Advent Calendars
If you are looking for some ideas on what to do to count down to Christmas for your gluten free kids, you’re in the right place!
Adding more candy over the holidays gets boring, repetitive, and my kids certainly don’t need the added energy from a permanent sugar high! So I love doing alternatives to Advent Calendars, especially ones that reinforce what we value as a family and not just some added sugar.
Don’t get me wrong! I love candy, making candy, and we get a healthy dose of it around the holidays. But the Advent Calendar always seems like a perfect opportunity to add some fun that isn’t food-related.
Especially for gluten free kids, this is great. It doesn’t feel like they are missing out or getting alternatives to what everyone else gets. It is just a fun way to celebrate.
There are some great gluten free Advent Calendars out there. You can purchase them and be all set to go. There is a list of them with links below. The alternative ideas can easily be mixed and matched. I hope some of these ideas spark creativity for you and your family!
What Advent Calendars Are Gluten Free
If you are on the hunt for an Advent Calendar that is gluten free, but you prefer to go with something premade that you can order, this is the list you want to check out.
Gluten free kids need to get access to typical experiences safely. And there is no shame in taking the less complicated option and purchasing something open-and-go! Links are to Amazon or other sites to purchase or view products. If you click on them and purchase, I may get affiliate commission at no cost to you.
- Moo Free Dairy Free, Organic Milk Tasting Advent Calendar This is a dairy free, gluten free, and nut free option for those with multiple allergy concerns. There is no certification of gluten free, but they state it is not made in a facility with dairy, gluten, or soy. The only allergy concern is that it may contain traces of hazlenuts.
- Simon Coll Milk Chocolate Figures Advent Calendar This is an option for those without other allergies as it contains milk and soy. It may contain hazlenuts, walnuts, or almonds.
- Christmas Advent Calendar This one is made in a peanut free facility for anyone who needs both gluten free and peanut free treats. The manufacturer states that it is gluten free.
- Amanda’s Own This company says they are top 14 allergen free as well as made in a dedicated facility. They also seem to have a few other Christmas chocolate options!
- No Whey Chocolate These are top 8 allergen free and the manufacturer claims they are made in a dedicated facility as well. If you are looking for more candy options, they have a variety available and claim everything they do is top 8 allergen free including wheat free and gluten free.
- Choc Zero These ones are gluten free, and they are also sugar free, sweetened with monk fruit for those with diabetic and gluten free kids.
These were the top options I found and the most gluten free safe. However, none of these options had any gluten free certifications or other assurances of being gluten free.
There were many others I did not include on this list where there were claims that they were gluten free but where the manufacturer had not made any statements regarding gluten.
Non-Chocolate Gluten Free Advent Calendars
If you want to purchase an advent calendar rather than make one, you might consider doing a premade one that doesn’t contain chocolate.
Some of the options I found contain food items, but none of the items on this list contain gluten, and none contain candy. Some of these do not contain food at all but are toys or other items.
So if you want a ready-made Advent Calendar that isn’t chocolate or candy, consider these. These links go to websites you may look at the items more closely or purchase them. If you purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you:
- 12 Days of Putty Scents These are not made with any gluten ingredients as I feared when I first saw this. And although it is only 12 days and not the typical 24 of an Advent Calendar, I don’t think that my kids would need more than 12!
- Pukka Herbs Tea Holiday This one might be better suited to adults than kids, but this calendar has 24 herbal teas and the company states it is gluten free. However, it is not certified gluten free.
- Organic Tea Advent Calendar Another tea option for your Advent Calendar. This one has 24 days of tea in 12 varieties. This one is also sugar free and appropriate for diabetics.
- Hot Sauce Advent Calendar If your family is into spicy options, you can try out this set of 25 different hot sauces! Maybe you can plan meals to go with your Advent Calendar for more fun.
- LEGO Advent Calendar If you want to get far away from food in your Advent Calendar, this is a good option. Each day has a different easy and simple build so it doubles as an activity option. Or, you know, just keep them busy while you cook dinner.
- Charm Bracelet Advent Calendar If you have kids that enjoy the pretty things, this would be a good option. I like that it isn’t 24 different random toys that will get stepped on, but complete 1 bracelet, 1 necklace and 2 pairs of earrings.
- Brain Teaser Advent Calendar This is something fun to keep them busy for at least a few minutes every day. There are 12 plastic puzzles and 12 wire puzzles. You could easily keep them around and pull them back out since they aren’t specifically holiday themed.
Alternative Advent Calendar Ideas
If you want to do something totally different that doesn’t come neatly packaged, one of the below ideas might be what you are looking for.
The above lists are great for an easy way to order your Advent Calendars and bring them out daily to count down to Christmas. But you might not have found anything above that resonates, or you might want something a little out of the ordinary.
You don’t have to be a Pinterest-perfect mom to create something great that will be memorable as well as gluten free.
Some ideas for advent calendars that have nothing to do with food:
- Book Advent Calendar
- Toy Advent Calendar
- Activity Advent Calendar
- Kindness Advent Calendar
- Craft Advent Calendar
- Customized Gift Advent Calendar
To do these, you can find any number of ideas to package it up. There are many craft ideas to make them, or you could bring them out of a safe spot once a day for the total number of days you want to do it.
Something I’ve done is get a wooden Advent Calendar that has little drawers in it. It is something that can be used over and over in multiple ways for the ideas listed. We really liked the one we got. Here is a link to it on Amazon if you want to get one or look for others. I really liked that the sizes of the drawers varied, and I could change what went in them.
How To Do A Book Advent Calendar
This one is one of my favorites, especially for young kids who still like to be read a bedtime story.
To save money, you can even get books from the library, and the Advent Calendar part can be just reading a new story together every day leading up to Christmas.
What I like to do, though, is go to a used bookstore and find inexpensive books. Of course, you could always get new ones as well if you prefer to do that.
Whichever way you find the books, gather up the number of days you plan to do. If you are already into December, get the number of days that are left.
You can wrap them, tie them with ribbons, or create fun cards with clues to find the hidden. If you choose to hide them, I recommend doing it right before you give them a clue, or your hiding spots may be given away early!
Then read the books together in whatever way works for your schedule. We ended up doing it at bedtime each night. Something fun to add might be a cup of warm milk or hot chocolate as a treat to go with it.
It can really be as simple as that!
How To Do A Toy Advent Calendar
It doesn’t need to be toys; specifically, it can be any small gift.
You can take some ideas from the non-chocolate Advent Calendar list above for ones to purchase. Do some brain teasers, Legos, or jewelry. Maybe a larger gift that needs every piece with a larger gift given on Christmas to bring them all together. For example, a dollhouse on Christmas and small dolls, clothing, and accessories for the Advent Calendar.
Depending on the items you choose, you will need to decide how to present the calendar. If the items are small enough, you can use a wooden Advent Calendar like the one linked above and fill it with the items.
Another option is to search for a craft idea that seems fun for Advent Calendars. Some are made out of paper towel rolls, old Christmas cards, or on a clothesline.
Adjust the design depending on the size of what you have in your calendar.
Then use it as a normal Advent Calendar and open it once a day leading up to Christmas.
How To Do An Activity Advent Calendar
If you are trying to do a holiday season with less stuff and more connection, an Activity Advent Calendar may be the perfect thing!
Look up events in your area and see what you can find scheduled to start planning your Calendar. Look for Christmas Lights drives, Santa pictures, craft fairs, or other local events. Check out local farms that might have events too.
You can use any Advent Calendars, such as one made of a clothesline, crafted, or a wooden box with drawers. Fill out sheets of paper with the activity, a picture, or a clue to have your kids guess what that day’s activity will be.
After you have found the big events you want to do, fill the rest with smaller activities you can do in the home or your regular schedule. Don’t over plan. If you find yourself exhausted, you can always open up the Calendar and switch things around. This is one thing I like about the option of the wooden drawer!
Activities around the home could be any Christmas crafts, putting up decorations, making holiday treats, or making Christmas gifts.
This is a great way to create memories with your family without spending a lot of money or gathering more items around the house that will create clutter.
Be creative! These activities don’t need to be big and extravagant. Add things to this that you would already include in your normal holiday plans.
How To Do A Kindness Advent Calendar
Emphasizing kindness and caring during the holidays is always a great idea and will benefit your children in their development of empathy.
To start this off, think of how you want to present your Calendar. My preferred method is a wooden Advent Calendar with drawers. I like this because I can change things if needed throughout the month if I’m not up for something or change my mind.
To start planning activities, see what is on your local calendar to help others.
Look for things such as food drives or other charity events.
Maybe there is an opportunity to help at a soup kitchen, a family shelter, or handing out food to the homeless. Look for clothing drives or choose some kids from a Giving Tree to donate presents or sponsor a whole family.
If you live somewhere that gets really cold around Christmas, you can get some blankets, hats, mittens, etc., and hand them out to people in need. They don’t need to be expensive items. They don’t even need to be new. Find some at a local resale shop so the money you dedicate to this can go further!
Don’t make the whole list of big activities, though. Find some things you can do in your everyday life to encourage Kindness.
One day could be to give a stranger a sincere compliment. Another could be to do something nice for a sibling or play a game together that the sibling wants to do.
It is actually important to include everyday activities in this list and not just large events.
How To Do A Craft Advent Calendar
This can be a great option if you are looking for something fun to do together instead of giving your kids candy or items to add to the clutter.
The first thing to do is list all the crafts you usually make over the holidays. Be generous. Include things that you might not consider crafts, such as baking or wrapping gifts.
Decide if you want the kids to make presents for some people and plan those out.
After you have finished with all the things you normally do, schedule them out and figure out how many days are left. For the rest of the days, decide on something easy and small that can be a craft.
This might include making snowflakes with folded paper and scissors, drawing a picture to include with someone’s gift, or decorating butcher paper to use as wrapping paper for gifts.
Make sure to include plenty of activities that aren’t stressful or require much effort on the part of the adults. Don’t burn yourself out doing this. If it isn’t a fun activity and creating great memories, then it isn’t worth doing.
But there are plenty of things that kids of all ages and abilities can do almost independently.
How To Do A Customized Gift Advent Calendar
Like the Toy Advent Calendar above, you can choose something that fits the person you want to gift.
It doesn’t need to be candy or to be cheap.
Something that can be fun is a gift with many pieces given over the course of a month that make sense on their own but add up to something bigger and better together. Possibly even with a large gift tying it all together on Christmas morning.
If these pieces are too large to fit in a premade Advent Calendar, get creative and make some other options. Use a clothesline, assorted size boxes, or other recycled materials to decorate.
Another option is not to decorate or package them up but to bring them out when you do the Advent Calendar.
You can write up a note about the item or hints about it and put it in a traditional Advent Calendar for them to open.
The idea here is to get creative and customize an Advent Calendar that they will really enjoy.
Gluten Free Advent Calendars For Everyone
This doesn’t have to be for just the gluten free kids in the house, and it can extend to the whole family and everyone.
Use your imagination to create creative and fun ideas to add something to the countdown to Christmas and the memories.
Mix and match the ideas above to find something fun for everyone or go with a theme that’s not on the list.
And make sure that your focus is fun and family!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!