We all remember those one-gram choc squares we’d burst out from the crinkly plastic packaging of our advent calendars as children. Most have fond memories. For others, the calendars left a sour aftertaste, which wasn’t just the bitterness of cheap compound chocolate. Like the friend I had in high school whose parents would only buy one advent calendar to share between two teenaged siblings. One tiny chocolate every second day hardly seems fair! In our house, we have two children with significant food allergies (gluten and dairy), so we have sought to find an alternative to the traditional $3 calendars we ourselves loved as kids. Last year Megan, blogger at Children’s Books Daily, wrote an inspirational post about her girls’ literary advent calendar. You can read it here where you will also find Megan’s list of top Christmas books! Here’s ours from last year: They don’t all have to be Christmas-themed books. They don’t even have to all be books you own. With a two-week loan period you can include library books in the top layers (which are opened first). The basic premise is that your child opens a book “present” every night and you read it together. Many of us read to our children daily anyway, so this is no different. Except that the kid gets to unwrap a present every night for 25 nights! And, at the risk of sounding lame-o, you are giving your family a very special gift when you read together. Also, books are way easier to share than tiny yucky chocolate squares! We have a good collection of Christmas books growing now, so this year ours will be mostly those with a few classic favourites thrown in. The Christmas-Eve book could be something of special importance to you- a classic childhood favourite, or treasured family story. We use a Children’s Bible and read The Nativity. I hope you and your family enjoy this as much as we do! I’d love to see pictures of your own individual calendars. (The wrapping paper I’ve used is $6 from IKEA for 15m).