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Christmas Traditions: Christmas Book Countdown on a Budget

I’m doing a new mini-series on some of our favorite Christmas traditions.  I know… I know… it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but I wanted to post this one early because it takes some preparation if you want to do something similar.

When both my boys were little, I was searching Pinterest for homemade Christmas countdown ideas.  I wanted a visual way to show a 2- and 4-year-old that Christmas was coming.  I came across many ideas that I liked, but my favorite, by far, was the Christmas Book Countdown.

The idea is simple.  You take 24 Christmas books and wrap them all up by December 1st.   Then, each night, you unwrap one book (the kids take turns each night) and read it!  As Christmas gets closer, the stack of books gets thinner.  Soon, it’s Christmas Eve!


We love books, especially children’s books.  I have read to the kids every night of their lives, so this tradition was easy to incorporate into our routine.  The only problem was – it was too expensive!

Buying 24 new Christmas books the month before Christmas can break the bank if you live on a tight budget.

We were a young family living off of graduate student incomes.  I had a few Christmas books in our collection, but I knew that I could not afford to buy 20 more!

So I searched our local thrift stores and found a few more books, but with only weeks until Christmas, their stock of Christmas books was getting slim…

So where can you find Christmas books for a bargain?  The library, of course!

I went on our local library website and searched for children’s Christmas books.  By this point December 1st was rapidly approaching. I put holds on a bunch of books, a few more than I needed in case some did not arrive in time.

Then I wrapped up the books I did own. Our collection was up to about 8.  We started working our way through those books, one by one.  About 5 or 6 days into the month, I picked up the books that were waiting for me at the library.  I didn’t show them to the kids.  Instead I wrapped them up.  They would not be overdue for 21 days and Christmas was closer than that!  Perfect!

Problem solved.


Christmas Book Countdown on a Budget - how to do a Christmas book countdown without buying all the books new! NatureAmy.com

The collection of Christmas books that I store out of sight in our Christmas decoration boxes each year.

In the following year, I looked for books on clearance in after Christmas sales.  I also searched for books anytime I was at a thrift store.  I was able to collect enough books so that I now own a collection of 24.

Each year I wrap up the same 24 books.  The kids are familiar with them all, but that does not make it less exciting for them.  They look forward to reading them again and again!

And when we put away the decorations at the end of Christmas, I put the books back in the Christmas box.  This way, the kids don’t see the books all year long on their bookshelf.


Christmas Book Countdown on a Budget - how to do a Christmas book countdown without buying all the books new! NatureAmy.com

All wrapped up and ready for December first – I usually procrastinate and don’t wrap them until the morning of December 1st!

I can’t wait to pull out the books again this year and see the excitement on their faces each night as they unwrap the books, wondering what book they will get that night.  It’s like a little bit of Christmas magic in our house every night of December.  This is one tradition that I never want them to grow out of…

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

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1 Comment

  1. Carolyn Hodges (Mom)

    November 22, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I wish we had known about this when you were growing up! Of course we always read books to you and had advent calendars to mark of the days but this idea is very special! We love to visit so we can participate in the tradition.

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