25 Days of Advent Fun with an Adventure Advent Calendar

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Remember being a child and loving Christmas? I’m not talking about the gift from Santa or the presents under the tree. I’m talking about the times you spent baking cookies with your Mom, the hours playing in the snow and decorating the most “perfect” Christmas tree. It’s such a magical time. 

For one family though, Christmas had become about pathological consumption rather than time enjoyed with those you love. Arica wanted their children to enjoy the Christmas season as she once did, enjoying the simple things and time spent together in their community. She decided to ditch the chocolate advent calendar and create her own Christmas Adventure Advent Calendar!

Disclaimer: While I share my own thoughts and stories about these experiences, should you click on the affiliate links, I may receive a small commission on that sale which helps fund Adventure Awaits.

What is an Adventure Advent Calendar?

Wooden adventure advent calendar

An adventure advent calendar is a unique twist on the traditional Advent calendar. Instead of counting down the days until Christmas with chocolates or small toys, an adventure advent calendar provides 25 days of fun and excitement. Each day features a different activity, ranging from simple things like making hot chocolate to more adventurous pursuits like hiking or going on a scavenger hunt. Adventure advent calendars are a great way to add some extra excitement to the holiday season. They’re also a perfect way to bond with friends or family members, as everyone can enjoy the activities together. So if you’re looking for something a little different this holiday season, be sure to check out an adventure advent calendar.

Arica said, “During the month of November I purchased gifts, baked and planned our calendar. I wanted to make sure I had nothing “to do” in December so we could enjoy Christmas adventures all month long. I started off with my favourite childhood memories: carolling, ice skating, snow day, and hosting a gingerbread house party. Then we added some fun pay it forwards: candy cane bomb a parking lot, bring a friend a surprise, as well as decorate homemade cookies and deliver them to the firehouse. Next, the traditional outdoor activities: building an igloo, cutting our Christmas tree, outdoor ice skating, sledding, and tree lighting ceremonies. Then we topped it off with some extra special adventures: The Peak of Christmas, The Polar Express, Enchant, and The Carol Ships in Ladner. For many of these, we invited neighbours, friends and family to join in the fun. Our children had an absolute blast and I thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas season.” 

What to Put in an Adventure Advent Calendar:

Make Gingerbread Houses

Boy decorating gingerbread houses for adventure advent calendar

There’s nothing like sticky fingers and rooftops that don’t quite hold… never mind watching the youngest child make sure they don’t eat too much candy! Whether you bake your own or buy store-bought kits, a family afternoon of gingerbread house-making is always a good idea.

Visit the North Pole

Grouse mountain skating rink for an adventure advent calendar

Grouse Mountain is famous for its “Peak Of Vancouver” and North Pole atmosphere. A quick trip up the Gondola and you’ll feel transported to another world. Visit with Santa in his workshop, take a snowshoeing tour through the lighted trails, throw on your skates, or warm up with hot chocolate next to a fire. Give yourself lots of time to enjoy the festivities, and if you’re looking to save money check out our tips and tricks (including how to get 50% off your ticket!) for your visit to Grouse Mountain.

Head Out into the Community

Candy cane bomb a parking lot for the adventure advent calendar

Arica said that this was one of the kids’ favourite adventures that they did last year… randomly surprising community members with candy canes! Whether they were dropping them off at the local supermarket or visiting a senior’s home to spread some joy, it was a simple activity that brought a lot of Christmas spirit to the community. 

Say Thank You to First Responders


Bake up some cookies and head over to the local Fire Hall to say thank you. You’ll make them very happy with your special delivery and they may even let you see inside the hall or try on some of their gear!

Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree


Did you know that cutting down your own Christmas tree is actually more environmentally friendly than artificial trees? Our family loves heading out and choosing the perfect tree, and our kids love it too! (Except when it comes time to actually choose the final one, that is never an easy choice!)

Head Down to the Carol Ship Cruises


The Carolship Cruises is a Vancouver institution that has been offering festive seasonal cruises for over 50 years. During the Christmas season, boats of all shapes and sizes decorate up for the season and cruise around different areas of Vancouver, showing off their beautiful lights. Some even have carollers who get right into the season. If you’re lucky you may even spot Santa!

Pack a family picnic and dress really warm and you can have a night out next to the water watching the beautifully decorated boats go by. One of my all-time favourite childhood memories! Check out this link for more information on carol ship cruises.

Have a Pajama Day


Why not skip the hustle and bustle of the season and spend the day tucked away under blankets catching up on all the Christmas classics? From Elf to Home Alone, or my favourite, the Grinch Who Stole Christmas… cuddle up with the babes and enjoy the downtime as a family.

Local Adventures To Include in An Adventure Advent Calendar:

Go Tubing

Family snow tubing - adventure advent calendar

Tubing is a great activity for families to enjoy together during the holiday season. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise. Tubing is also a great way to spend time with friends and family members who are in town visiting. My recommendation is to head up during nonpeak times so you can get as many runs in as possible. Cypress and Mt. Seymour are my go-to places for tubing.

Cross-country Skiing at Cypress Mountain 

Cross-country skiing is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise with the whole family. Cypress Mountain has over 19 kilometres of trails, making it the perfect place to explore this winter activity. Cross-country skiing is a low-impact activity that is easy on the joints, and it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. Cross-country skiing is a fun way to spend time with loved ones while enjoying the breathtaking scenery of Cypress Mountain. So add this to your Advent Adventure Calendar for this holiday season!

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge

lights-at-capilano-suspension-bridge - adventure advent calendar

Capilano Suspension Bridge is a must-visit for families during the holidays. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland, with over 250,000 twinkling lights decorating the suspension bridge, rainforest and Cliffwalk. Canyon Lights is also a great opportunity to explore the natural beauty of British Columbia. The Capilano River runs through the park, and there are several walking trails that wind through the forest. Families can also take a stay in the skies on the popular Treetop Adventures, which gives visitors a bird’s eye view through the forest canopy. In addition, the park offers a variety of holiday-themed activities, including gingerbread decorating and singing Christmas carols around the bonfire. With so much to see and do, Canyon Lights is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Go Ice Skating at Robson Square (or your Local Community Center)

If you’re looking for more active adventures, why not try taking the family ice skating? Ice skating is a classic Canadian winter activity that’s perfect for families, and always sure to bring some laughs. By heading down to Robson Square you can take in some of the other festivities that are happening downtown.

Take a Trip to See Santa Claus

Whether you visit him at the mall or in his workshop at the North Pole, your kids will love getting to meet the big man himself. And don’t forget to get a picture!

VanDusen Gardens – Festival of Lights


Whether you live in Vancouver or want to plan a trip to the city, the Vandusen Gardens – Festival of Lights is a must-see. The event features over one million lights, as well as musical performances, Santa’s workshop, and a variety of food vendors. Families can also take part in a number of interactive activities, keeping all members of the family engaged and interested in the magical experience.

Christmas Production at your Local Community Theatre.

Seeing a play is a great way to spend quality time with loved ones while also supporting your local economy. Community theatres typically use local talent, so you may even know someone in the production! In addition, live productions are a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. There is nothing like seeing the excitement of children in the audience as they watch their favourite holiday characters come to life on stage.

Burnaby Village Museum – Heritage Christmas


This holiday season, families can enjoy a unique and festive experience at Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas. This event takes visitors back in time to an early 20th-century village, with decorated heritage houses, twinkling lights and carolers strolling the streets. Kids will love the decorated lights and getting a glimpse at what life was like in the village last century. . In addition to all the festive fun, families can also learn about the history of Burnaby Village and how it has evolved over the years. With so much to see and do, Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas is the perfect place to create lasting holiday memories.

Sea to Sky Gondola

Photo Credit: Sea to Sky Gondola. Photographer: Tara O’Grady http://taraogradyphoto.com/

Located in Squamish, this popular attraction offers stunning views of Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains. With the snowy mountain tops, families can ride the gondola to the top of Sea to Sky where they can enjoy a festive picnic lunch or explore one of the many hiking trails and lookouts. In addition, the gondola provides easy access to the Summit Viewing Deck, which is the perfect spot for taking family photos. So whether you’re looking for breathtaking scenery or some quality time with loved ones, be sure to add Sea to Sky Gondola to your list of holiday destinations.

Click here to get your Sea to Sky Gondola tickets!

Make some Holiday crafts.

From decorating gingerbread houses to stringing popcorn for the tree, there are lots of fun crafts that you can do as a family during the holidays. Not only will you have some great memories (and maybe even some new decorations), but you’ll also get into the festive mood while you’re doing them.

Create Your Own Ideas!


There are more ideas than there are days in December so be sure to be creative and come up with some ideas of your own. Here are a few more to get your creativity jump-started:

  • Head over to a senior home to sing carols to the residents
  • Round up items you no longer need and donate them. This could be anything from blankets to socks, to warm clothes and jackets.
  • Sign up to volunteer at your local food bank or collect food and donate it.
  • Head to your local park and have a campfire and hot dog roast with your friends.
  • Invite Grandma over and ask her to bake her favourite recipe with you.
  • Have a “Yes Day” Say yes to everything the kids ask! 
  • Spoil your teachers and bring coffee and doughnuts to the school.

Tips and Tricks For Creating The Best Adventure Advent Calendar Experience:

  • Finish your shopping and baking in November.
  • Schedule adventures around your slow days of the week.
  • Splurge on one extra special adventure.
  • Be flexible – I switched out 2 planned days for a mini chocolate treat simply because this Mama needed a quiet snuggle day.
  • If you are looking to add this tradition to your family, there are a variety of beautiful wooden advent calendars available on Amazon to get you started. Click here to purchase your traditional wooden advent calendar with 24 drawers and lights!

Is this a sponsored post?: No, we were not paid for this post. We simply want to share amazing experiences and adventures with our followers! We hope this inspires you and your family to get outside and try something new!

About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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