Small gifts to fit inside Wooden Advent calendar - ideas needed please!

(58 Posts)
everydayaschoolday Sat 18-Aug-12 21:52:03

Last Christmas I invested in a lovely wooden advent calendar that can be brought out every year, rather hoping it'll become a beloved tradition that my children will grow-up with. I filled each drawer with a 'penny sweet' or Quality Street-type chocolate.

This year I was thinking of putting a small gift item in - like a small santa-face badge etc. But where do I find such tat lovely christmas items that my 4 year old would get genuinely excited about?! Don't get me wrong, I can find the tat, I just can't find small enough tat to get in the little drawer.

I have noted on MN last year to write an activity to do and put it in the drawer, and I think I'll do that for weekend days when I'm not working and we can bake cookies or something. All ideas really appreciated.

floweryblue Sat 18-Aug-12 22:03:19

Have you looked up Tobar toys? They do old fashioned nick-knack type toys and games.

I've got an Advent Calender .Each door has a tiny resin decoration that hangs onto a little resin tree with hooks .The tree is about 12" high, and it's lovely to see it fill up.
I put a few chocolate coins in too.

It's difficult to buy little things for a 4yo.

If it's a girl, maybe some little clip-on earrings (or if she's got piereced ears, studs) from Claire's Accessories. They often have 3 for 2.
My DD got gingerbread man earrings (cute).

Shoes or clothes for a Barbie Doll.

Sylvanian Family Baby figure

If it's a boy, the Halo figures that you assemble (in a sealed bag, about £2-3 from The Entertainer, Tesco, Game)

You might find some tiny decorations (M&S had little glass 'teardrops' about 1" long) that your DC could save every day to go on the tree?

Keyring

BiscuitNibbler Sat 18-Aug-12 22:05:30

I bought one of these today, so will watch this thread with interest.

I have decided to put some hair clips and bobbles in some of the drawers, but need some inspiration for the rest.

BiscuitNibbler Sat 18-Aug-12 22:07:29

Oh yes, the one I bought has a tiny decoration in each drawer to put on the hooks dotted around the calendar scene, but I want to add something extra!

Dysgu Sat 18-Aug-12 22:30:21

Sorry, can't help you with the 'small (tat) gifts' other than to mention Harper's Bazaar but we just do chocolate balls or coins and an activity as I much prefer the stuff to be eaten rather than litter up my house.

If you were planning on doing activities for the weekends, can I suggest you do them for every day just make the week day ones REALLY simple. I work full-time and DD1 is at school so week day things include stuff like 'DD1 has her school nativity today - let's all go along and watch it' and 'Let's find a Christmas storybook to share at bedtime' so nothing particularly challenging (and stuff you would be doing anyway but it really builds the excitement through the month.

I did this for several years. Started when DS was 1. He's now 16 and has 2 siblings. Believe me, I have pretty much exhausted all the little-pressie options over the years, and we own just about everything that Hawkins Bazaar sell.

For the last 3 years I the elves have left DCs a special Xmas raffle. A Christmassy basket filled with pressies, each wrapped and with a raffle ticket attached.

They love getting their ticket from the calendar and finding the right pressie in the basket.

Not big things by any means, but at least they don't have to fit into a ridiculously tiny hole. smile

BiscuitNibbler Sat 18-Aug-12 22:45:46

You're probably right, Dysgu, I definitely don't need any more tat hanging around.

Maybe I'll just stick with chocs, a few clips and bobbles (as these are useful), and try and think of some activities. We've got a theatre trip and a panto booked for December, so that's a start.

dyzzidi Sat 18-Aug-12 22:47:00

Dd age 6 has one of these and we have put plastic necklaces, Lego figures, Chocolate coins etc.

This year I think I am going to put a couple of pound coins in there, mini lipgloss, Lego figures, balloons, bracelets, keying, rubbers and mini pencils.

peanutMD Sat 18-Aug-12 22:47:37

love the raffle idea smile

I bought a small tree from Poundland and bought a big tub of mini decorations which were divided amongst the pockets on DS' fabric calander and chucked in some chocolate coins or a moshi card/sticker for a bit of variety grin

Isitme1 Sat 18-Aug-12 22:49:42

Cakeistheanswer's made the most sense to me
sorry for being nosey
Good luck

crackcrackcrak Sat 18-Aug-12 22:52:33

We have a wooden one, dm bought it and fills it. Last year it was done chocolate, some little dolls, some moulded plastic animals you can get them in you shops some German make I think. The puppies and lambs etc are small enough.

Hmm what else.....dd likes hair clips....

bran Sat 18-Aug-12 22:58:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

£1 coins- especially if you can get the really new ones (IIRC they release new coins at the end of the year)

I might do that this year, maybe put a few chocolate coins in Sun-Fri then have a £1 each on the Saturday.

<<adds to Christmas Plan List>>

KatyMac Sat 18-Aug-12 23:02:28

Does this help for the "I have noted on MN last year to write an activity to do and put it in the drawer, and I think I'll do that for weekend days when I'm not working"
I do forfeits
What did the three wise men bring?

What do you think the Wise men would bring today?

Name three things you need to make Christmas pudding?

Sing jingle bells backwards?

Name three things that glitter?

Imitate a turkey?

Do 5 star jumps

Think of 3 words that rhyme with "Yule"?

Think up the next line of this poem:
At Christmas time the thing I like the best

Name 3 plants or trees associated with Christmas?

Name 3 animals or birds associated with Christmas?

Name 4 reindeer?

Sing a Christmas Song

Name 5 carols?

4 3-letter words from Christmas?

4 3-letter words from stocking?

Name a carol with someone's name in the title?

Name a song with Santa in the title?

What was given on the 9th day of Christmas?

In the 12 days of Christmas - how many birds altogether were given?

Name two animals in the traditional nativity scene?

Make a snowflake out of paper?

Tell the story of the first Christmas in less than a minute?

Name 5 Christmas foods?

Make something to hang on the Christmas tree?

Think of 3 names for father Christmas?

And these are some on MN previous years:
Decorate a tree outside with nuts and fat and toast for the birds, plus a star on top

"We're thinking of all the people in the world who won't have somewhere nice to sleep on Christmas day like Mary and Joseph"

read the Christmas Story

Go ice skating

put out some bird food / hedgehog food

Make salt dough decorations

Make a christingle

bake stained glass biscuits to decorate the tree with

Track Santa (for Christmas Eve)

Read a Christmas book (How the Grinch stole Christmas)

Make gingerbread house.

Collect pinecones, leaves and twigs to paint and turn into a centrepiece.

learn to sing a new carol and sing it to your parents

make paper snowflakes

learn the words to a Christmas song or poem and recite to Dad when he gets home

write a Christmas haiku

Make mum a cup of tea

Make a bookmark

Choose a charity to donate old toys to

Decorate Xmas cake.

Tidy bedroom

Make Xmas cards or maybe crackers if you are feeling inventive.

Go to Carol service

Go to christingle service

Go to nativity

write letter to Santa

make mince pies

make christmas cards

collect christmas tree

wrap presents

decorate christmas tree

buy present for local children's xmas appeal

watch christmassy film

make fudge

go shopping for christmas food

make christmas decorations

write christmas cards

Go for a walk with a torch

Visit Santa's Grotto
"Look under X and find the present" (another MNer suggested this on antoher thread)

make card for Nanna

make card for Daddy

Make some crackers?

Learn a new christmas song

Learn a christmas joke

paperchains are fab

Do a Christmas kindness each - just aim to do something for someone else that is just kind. Like buy the person behind you in the queue their coffee or help someone to carry their shopping or something else similar.

Make non-alcoholic mulled wine, lots of recipes online.

Email Santa

Go and look at the christmas lights on all the houses nearby.

go for a walk and pick holly

drink hot chocolate and watch a film (polar express)

walking around you local estate at night to view christmas lights..(if it applies, we have some very dedicated christmas enthusiasts around us)

christmas play/panto

make mince pies

fly kites

ditto the reindeer food, dc's love it

make wreath or spray

make wrapping paper or xmas decorations

bake mince pies

fill a shoebox for a xmas shoebox appeal

learn about how another country celebrate xmas (depends how old your dc are)

visit santa

Or take some biccies to the local retirement home/salvation army?

Make some reindeer food (porridge oats and glitter in a little jar).

go to church for a carol service?

put on Christmas Carols/Music and have a dance

make a Christmas present for dad

go out and collect holly and fir

Make a christmas card

stick cloves in oranges

make xmas decorations

cook some fudge/coconut ice for rellys

decorate xmas biscuits

everydayaschoolday Sat 18-Aug-12 23:07:18

Yay, my very first thread has answers - thank you all!

flower thanks for tip on Tobar, will google them shortly.

70isalimit great ideas there - why didn't I think of Claire's??! Loving idea of clip-on earrings esp christmas design ones. (I have 2 girls). She also loves key rings, so I just need to find one small enough (prob at Claire's again?).

Hi Biscuit, yes, of course some hair accessories (I really am rubbish at this)! Thanks for the tip and good luck on filling yours too.

Unfortunately my calendar didn't come with the mini decorations (I understand the type you mean) and I'm a bit gutted that I might have missed a trick. Perhaps I could make small felt decorations if I was feeling crafty...simple snowman / santa design with a loop at the top and get a mini tree for kids to hang them on. That could be a plan actually. Thank you for the inspiration 70 and biscuit (I just need to find the time!).

Dysgu I don't mind small tat as DD has loads of little bags and purses that they get put in to carry around (?) so generally it's all tidied away. I hate big toys though that just consume clutter my conservatory. I like your tip on keeping the chocs christmassy, so if I don't get 24 bits of tat, I'll use choc coins or santa choc balls (poundstretcher?) to fill in the gaps. I'll have a google at Harper's too. Thank you.

Thanks everyone - more ideas welcome: I need 24 in all! smile

Brilliant list KtyMac.

Loads of those are part of our Christmas Traditions already.
<<Preens>>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Can I just say, re PineCones.
They are out now. Loads of them in our local streets right now.
You won't find them in December (voice of experience, having spent cold December days traipsing round forests) wink

everydayaschoolday Sat 18-Aug-12 23:11:59

Gosh, so many more replies, thanks everyone!

Cake - put simply, your idea is genius! While I can still buy cheap tat, I won't be restricted to size. LOVE IT!

Everyone else, thank you, will read all posts but they're coming in faster than I can reply! Thanks all thanks

Ismeyes Sat 18-Aug-12 23:18:54

Little figures such as Moshi monsters, puppy in my pocket, my little pony etc fit inside these really well. You can usually get them more cheaply on ebay too.

JessePinkman Sat 18-Aug-12 23:22:12

Thanks KatyMac. So many lovely ideas.

everydayaschoolday Sat 18-Aug-12 23:25:59

peanut thanks will checkout poundland/poundstrecher for mini decs - might save me some time making them. thanks.

Katy great list - will pinch ideas for our new Christmas traditions, thank you.

70isalimit DD loves collecting pine cones (already have 3 in my living room). Good tip, I'll save as she collects and decorate in dec with some christmassy paint and glitter - brill idea, thanks.

everydayaschoolday Sat 18-Aug-12 23:34:47

DD would love Puppy in my Pocket and My Little Pony - thanks Ismeyes

Thanks everyday - it's a long time since I heard my name and genius in the same sentence!

Thanks also for making me think about it now. Funnily enough, I don't actually enjoy the last-minute end-of-November panic which usually occurs chez Cake.

ValiumQueen Sun 19-Aug-12 08:15:45

I put polly pocket clothes and shoes from a car boot sale in DD1s last year alternated with activities. I would fill it in the morning, so could choose the activity to what I could cope with/ weather appropriate etc. if I did not want to do an activity I would put the PP item in. I will have a newborn this year, all being well, so will be watching this with interest. DD2 was too small last year. I made my callendar myself so thankfully there is room for all three.

fuzzpig Sun 19-Aug-12 08:24:22

Love this thread! I really want to get a nice wooden calendar. Not sure whether to get one each or one to share?!

At the moment (they'll be 5 and 3) the best gifts for mine would be little play figures - I get sets from eBay, last year they had things like looney tunes, Wallace and Gromit, snow white etc in their stockings, but I could put them in individually.

MrsTrellisOfSouthWales Sun 19-Aug-12 08:26:30

Lego, playmobil, Go go/bungees or anything they sell near the till in Toys R Us, minifigures, and www.Tickseed.co.UK

BiscuitNibbler Sun 19-Aug-12 08:29:51

Just remembered I bought some small My Little Pony figures for her stocking a little while ago, so I will see if these fit, as they would be perfect. Thanks Ismeyes.

Fuzzpig - I would say one each if you can manage it, as last year me and DD shared which meant I didn't get a look in! Hence buying DD her own this year!

everydayaschoolday Sun 19-Aug-12 09:00:22

valliumqueen thanks for idea on being flexible in the morning with what to fill it with - depending on how I'm feeling. I can always 'downgrade' an activity with a toy if weather not suitable etc. Good point.

Fuzzpig I agree with biscuit on having a calendar each. I need to get a second one this year for dd2 who'll be 1.5yo (I got away with just one last year). I imagine the 1.5yo will mostly have a milkybar button in her drawer (small tat not suitable at that age). I guess I need to get on ebay (ebay virgin here) and have a look at character figures.

Mrstrellis yes, of course - check out the area near the tills for impulse buys, which is normally small tat! thank you.

ValiumQueen Sun 19-Aug-12 09:07:27

Clearly I am mean for making three share one then grin <<disclaimer: it is big, and hand made>>

ByTheWay1 Sun 19-Aug-12 09:14:53

LOL V..Q..- I am even meaner..... the cheap tat goes in the stocking for christmas day - my fabric advent calendar pockets get a sweet for each in each pocket.

Last thing I need is the kids expecting presents every day...

ValiumQueen Sun 19-Aug-12 10:28:07

Thank you bytheway I feel better grin

I get what you mean about expecting gifts every day. It can get crazy if there are gifts every day, plus Christmas eve hamper plus stocking plus gifts. That is why I prefer to do activities when I can, as said previously it can be stuff you were going to do anyway. I do not do the hamper and buy very little for my kids as thankfully have family who are quite generous.

Another idea could be socks or pants, as they often get them anyway? I often put stuff they will need clothes wise in stocking or as a gift in its own right. DC3 was a bit of a suprise, so I need to be extra frugal from herein, and plan ahead as I will be a dairy cow from November.

everydayaschoolday Mon 20-Aug-12 21:02:38

Thank you everyone for all the super ideas. I got a couple of sets of Polly Pocket dolls and clothing sets at 'clearance' price in Argos today that I think will fit in the little drawer if I break all the clothes sets up and spread them throughout the calendar.

As kids get older, I'm definitely going to go with the genius idea of a raffle ticket and a christmas basket of small pressies.

ValliumQueen all the very best for the safe arrival of your early christmas surprise thanks. I too do all the pants, socks etc in the stocking (usually character type to make it 'special'). Top tip, also include character toothbrush and my kids think strawberry toothpaste (tesco own brand 99p?) is a treat grin. To fill stocking space at low price, include a carton of juice (my kids love juice cartons and rarely get them (another treat)) - or bottle of pop for teenagers. I think I'm off on a tangent now... sorry.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for all the ideas - I think I'm sorted (to DH utter amusement..."Christmas stuff, in August??!"). But happy to hear of more ideas for next year if anyone thinks of any more.

IWantToGoToThere Thu 23-Aug-12 21:24:25

Taking the raffle idea one step further, my DS is young enough to enjoy a 'treasure hunt' so I might leave a note saying 'look in the ...' and hide a trinket or chocolate around the house every night for him to look for in the morning. Thanks for the inspiration!

WaitingForMe Mon 27-Aug-12 20:58:16

I don't do an advent calendar as we only have my stepsons on alternate weekends (not that this stops MIL making a calendar for them here) but I just ordered loads for their stocking from Tickseed. Thank you MrsTrellis, I found loads of bits they've not had before!

£1 coin. Not in all, just one or two.

Lego figurines

hair clips

socks can be rolled up pretty small

choc

HappyAsEyeAm Tue 28-Aug-12 07:48:29

We were given a wooden advent calendarlast year in the shape of a lorry driven by santa with 24 boxes in the lorry. Inside were sweets, and also the little animals you can get in toy shops and ELC and The Entertainer by Schleich (sp?). The smaller ones that they do are about £2.50 each, but DS loves them and we have a veritable zoo of them. Some of the smaller animals fit, but some don't. The little dogs, frog and mouse definitely fit.

superdragonmama Tue 28-Aug-12 16:39:26

One year I put in beads and elastic 'string' for ds1 and dd, they were about 7 and 10, and she made 3 bracelets with the beads she collected during December, he made Xmas decorations for the tree.

All my kids have liked activity challenges and treasure hunt clues better than yet more tat especially as they got older. Cheap and fun!

mignonette Tue 28-Aug-12 16:45:21

Roll up a patterned pair of shoe laces
Put some cartoon sticky plasters inside
Cut up some sheets of stickers
Tiny pot of lipbalm for toddler chapped lips
Some cool animal shaped buttons to sew on a favourite piece of clothing
Shaped erasers from paperchase
Fridge magnets
mini coloured painting soaps from bodyshop
tiny pots of star glitter shapes from paperchase or art shop

hermioneweasley Tue 28-Aug-12 16:45:40

I love katymac's suggestions! Am stealing those

carolinecordery Fri 31-Aug-12 23:47:59

Great, can't believe there's a thread discussing exactly what I've been thinking about. My daughter is also 4 and has had her advent boxes for the last 2 years but now I've also bought one for DS (will be 20 months at Christmas)- is that too young? Shall I start his next year? And DO BOYS LIKE LITTLE PRESENTS TOO LIKE FIGURES AND BRACELETS? That's my main question. He's my first boy so I don't know what he'll like. It seems so easy to buy presents for girls, and women actually. I hadn't thought of the activities/ quiz questions idea to go in the boxes- brilliant. Last year I did some boxes with 'XYZ' in my pocket figures (mixed tubs of 11 of them £4.99 on ebay now), and some with a few tiny sweets and DD was disappointed when it wasn't sweets....

Watch the cost of filling these boxes- 2 kids could get up to £50!

BiscuitNibbler Sat 01-Sep-12 17:28:31

I went to Ikea today and they had little finger puppets in packets of ten for £4, so I got some of these as they will easily roll up and fit the little drawers.

I also got some Dairy Milk miniatures from the Cadbury shop because I think she will want chocolate in every drawer, rather than the odd few I was planning. These are tiny so I think I will manage to get one of these and a either a finger puppet, bobble or clip, plus the little decoration that is already in the calendar in without too much squeezing!

everydayaschoolday Sat 01-Sep-12 21:31:07

Hey Biscuit stop that! You're upping the stakes - I count that as 3 things in the drawer! I'll be skint before we get to Dec 1st at this rate!

Really just envy smile

BiscuitNibbler Sat 01-Sep-12 22:02:40

I know blush, I really did mean just to do one plus the decoration (which will be the same every year, so they don't really count - that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!) but then I just thought I don't want to deal with the upset over no chocolate every morning!

BiscuitNibbler Sat 01-Sep-12 22:03:04

Mind you, I've still got to check they fit!!

everydayaschoolday Sat 01-Sep-12 23:41:55

I know. Really I'm just the same. I don't have a calendar that has the decs - just the empty drawers. I was going to do a small choc (like from a christmas net of choc snowballs - cheap n' cheerful) plus little toy (have stocked up on Polly Pocket and fingers crossed they fit). smile

sashh Sun 02-Sep-12 05:12:37

Don't forget pound shops. Have you seen the light up baloons? I got some for a friend's dc, and then had to go back and get another three pascks for the rest of the street. You can get them at tesco.

A lot of toy shops have a display with lots of tiny things, tiny note books, bouncing balls, plastic figures.

How old are dds? Maybe something special, a 'real' piece of jewelry for Xmas eve.

everydayaschoolday Sun 02-Sep-12 11:22:23

Hi sashh. DDs will be 4.5 and 18 months. I've kinda overlooked the 18 month old (but suspect milky bar button in each drawer for her will do).

I hadn't thought of doing a more special small gift for the 24th. Really good idea - thanks for that one. I do have a necklace in her christmas stash for her, so I might put that in the calendar instead. thank you

BiscuitNibbler Thu 06-Sep-12 16:15:06

I went to B&M Bargains today and they had packets of Squishies (is that the right name? The teeny tiny plastic toys in the clear plastic balls) for £3.99 instead of the usual £10 in the supermarkets. I got some Hello Kitty and Barbie ones as they will fit in nicely.

Tw1nkle Mon 15-Oct-12 09:13:28

So glad I found this thread!!!

OhTheConfusion Tue 16-Oct-12 20:02:10

DH and I got a wooden on for our god daughter, we bought a tub of mini dinosaurs from ELC and popped then in the spaces with a few choc coins.

They also do tubs of mini animals if your DC's are not dinosaur daft like our DGD.

Freyajane9 Sun 18-Nov-12 22:20:19

Stickers, tattoos, erasers, hair things, crystals. . Piece of jewellery on 24th.

2Young2B38 Thu 29-Nov-12 22:27:56

Fab thread! Am in minor panic mode now as I've left it all to last minute. Katymac brilliant ideas, think I'll do a combo of these plus the mini chocs and stickers/tatoos I did last year for DD & DS. Thanx everyone :D

everydayaschoolday Sun 24-Mar-13 23:01:28

I see some christmas threads active, so feel justified in posting this (before Easter <wails>! Squinkies 16pk on half price at ToysRUs today, down from £10 to £5 - perfect size for advent calendar drawers.

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Everhopeful Sat 05-Oct-13 15:38:36

Glad I found this thread!

I have been making eggbox advent calendars for DD and her godsisters for about 10 years, so proper tradition though not as flexible as Valiumqueen. I have been warned I am not allowed to stop, even if she is 11. Godsisters are 11 and 6, so need lots of ideas. I have used many of these suggestions in the past for younger ones (though not the activities, some of which would be really good), but have thought of a few new ones for older ones this year(aimed at girls, since that's what I've got - I agree that boys aren't as easy to get for):

- mini lippies (buy Avon samples on Ebay, they're pretty cheap)
- hairbands in school colours (DD goes through these like anything and is resigned happy with practical stuff)
- smelly highlighters probably will still go down well
- decorated stationery clips
- earrings are good
- hair braids

Yes, they do like the sweets, but I got fed up of DD having a sugar rush before school. Anyway, she also likes the variety and knows I'll bung in chocs at least once a week. GSs don't like choc confused so I have to find them something else anyway, the bought ones never work for them. I've managed never to spend more than c£4 per calendar and often much less. Mind you, leftovers from party bag fodder have been a strong standby wink

losersaywhat Mon 25-Nov-13 09:52:09

I know it's an old thread but the raffle ticket idea has just solved my advent calender problem. Fantastic, I'm off to raid poundland.

mamalovesmojitos Mon 25-Nov-13 10:02:18

Great thread! KatieMac your ideas are just fantastic - thanks so much for sharing them thanks

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