How to quickly make a dinosaur Advent calendar in 3 easy steps

Dino-fy your Advent calendar and let the dinosaurs spread joy (and glitter) for your little dinosaur fan. We’ve got various easy ideas to add some dinosaur flair to your DIY advent calendar (and not just as gifts, though we’ve got some ideas for them too). Simple. Fun. Guaranteed to elicit a smile.

Cue: jaw-aching grin.

That ear-to-ear smile she only uses for dinosaurs, gifts from Oma and big scoops of strawberry ice cream eaten by the fire.

It greets us every morning for 24 days straight!

We each have an Advent calendar. This year, our LDA has a dinosaur Advent calendar. She grins from ear to ear even before opening the daily gift.

For a guaranteed dinosaur glow, make your own dinosaur Advent calendar! And I promise: There are only 3 easy steps.

Trixie's crafts to try: Watercolour Triceratops with a green watercolour heart

Trixie’s crafts to try

TITLE: Dinosaur Advent calendar
CRAFT: A simple Advent calendar dino-fied with glittery dinosaurs to spread joy for Christmas
DINOSAUR: Whichever toy dinosaur you wish (repeats are allowed)
BEST FOR: Advent (21 to 24 December)
EASE: At this time of year, the easier the better

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Blue and purple glittery toy dinosaur on red tissue paper, packed in a gift box with some hairties and gummi bear: an example of one day of our Dinosaur Advent calendar

What is an advent calendar?

An Advent calendar is a wonderful Christmas tradition that comes from Germany (they also brought us the Christmas tree).

Advents calendars count down the days until Christmas. Traditionally, each day reveals a bible verse and a picture. They always start on 1 December and have 24 or 25 days/gifts, depending on when Christmas is celebrated (Germans celebrate Christmas Eve).

Modern Advent calendars are filled with chocolates, toys, or even nail polish. You can buy one ready to use, or make one yourself.

Ours has dinosaurs.

Ready-to-use dinosaur Advent calendars

If you are strapped for time, the easy solution to your Advent calendar needs is to buy a calendar that is already made.

Chocolate calendars are simple and easy. Most supermarkets and department stores stock them and they come in all price categories (not that a child would taste the difference). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one with dinosaurs on it.

Our LDA receives at least one chocolate calendar each Christmas. Many businesses give them away as advertising gifts. I am yet to see one with a dinosaur on it.

Some calendars also come full of small dinosaurs – one a day. How long will your LDA have to wait for their favourite dinosaur?


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Why do you want to make a dinosaur Advent calendar?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on my child eating low-quality chocolate each morning for 24 days. Or all at once when she just can’t wait.

I would much rather give her some of the things she needs (Winter accessories, underwear) when she needs them (rather than waiting a month until Christmas). To prevent boredom, I intersperse the necessities with fun (cheap) toys and school supplies. Some are dinosaur-themed.

3 Steps to your dinosaur Advent calendar

Step 1: Choose your dinosaurs

I started my Christmas shopping early this year.

Salzburg is notoriously cold at Halloween, so I needed to source a new winter jacket for our LDA before our visit. While searching, I found some cute dinosaur Christmas ornaments for our tree (and shared them on Facebook). They sold out quickly.

While I might not be able to buy any more of the ornaments, they did inspire our calendar.

For this dinosaur Advent calendar, you will need 24 small dinosaurs, one for each day. I purchased a box of 60 and yes, there were repeats. That’s fine.

I painted each of the dinosaurs in acrylic paint in colours similar to those of Christmas ornaments (they will be in the same room). To make painting easier, I sprayed them with some primer spray for plastic (which I already had on hand from our reindinos). The dinosaurs are so small, it took less than a minute to do (and a few hours to dry).

Adding the glitter was easy too. I followed the same instructions that I used to paint the backpack bling: paint on some craft glue or mod podge where you want the glitter. Hold the dinosaur over your bowl and “sprinkle” the dinosaur with glitter. From experience, be careful putting the leftover glitter back in the bowl.

Of course, you don’t have to paint them. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave them natural (because your dinosaur fan would prefer to play with them without the glitter – or you’d prefer it).

Toy dinosaurs painted red, pink, green and blue, waiting for glitter to be part of our dinosaur Advent calendar

Step 2: Find and wrap your gifts

The gifts do not have to be dinosaur gifts (though we have a list of dinosaur Advent calendar gifts for inspiration).

I prefer to wrap all the gifts in brown paper (the patterned paper is from Santa). Normally, I place each wrapped gift in a small gift box or paper lunch bag. This makes them look more uniform and means I can add a lollipop or gummi bears or other sweet.

Our LDA will find a dinosaur in the giftbox or bag on about 16 of the days.

A glittery green dinosaur in a giftbox with pink tissue paper

Step 3: Label your gifts and assemble your calendar

Half the fun of an Advent calendar is looking for the right day. For this to work, each package has to be numbered.

You can do this any way you please. I like to write the numbers on small gift tags (this year they’re star form tags). Sometimes I write directly on the paper bags.

Finally, assemble each day. I used some washi tape to attach our gift tags and some string to attach the dinosaurs (that are not inside the giftbox). Glue dots might work too (especially if you don’t use glitter).

If you want to hang your gifts: Find a branch (without leaves) or broomstick (without a broom) and secure some string or ribbon to two ends so that it can hang (horizontally). Attach each gift and dinosaur combination to the branch with string so that they hang at different heights.

We have limited wall space so we use a much more relaxed method: Lay the packages out in your available space with their dinosaurs on top. Add some tinsel if you please.

Dinosaur Advent calendar gifts around a mini Christmas tree. Each gift is labelled and some have glitter dinosaurs attached with string

Other easy-to-make dinosaur Advent calendar ideas

PREHISTORIC FOREST: Create a paper cone for each day. Paint them in various shades of green and label each with a number (1 to 24). Fill them with appropriate goodies and stand them up to look like a forest. Intersperse some of your favourite toy dinosaurs strolling in the prehistoric woods.

Toy dinosaur in a "forest" Advent calendar, a modern dinosaur Advent calendar

DINOSAUR COLOURING BOOK: Subscribe to our emails and grab a copy of our dinosaur Christmas colouring book. Print out the images and roll them into 23 gifts, tying each one with a bow. Buy a packet of coloured pencils and wrap it up as the first gift. Find a branch or broomstick and secure some string or ribbon to two ends so that it can hang. Attach each gift to the branch and a couple of toy dinosaurs too.

CHRISTMAS DINOSAURS: This one works well if you have larger gifts, such as books. Subscribe to our emails and grab a copy of our dinosaur Christmas colouring book. Print out the images and colour in your favourite 24, cutting them out to remove the excess paper. Wrap your gifts in plain (brown packing) paper and stick one of your coloured dinosaur images on each gift. Don’t forget to number them!

SAY CHEESE!: This requires a little more creativity but is still simple. Gather together your little dinosaur fan’s favourite dinosaurs, grab your polaroid camera and take 24 photos. (Alternatively, take 24 photos with your phone and print them out). Write a number on the back and attach each photo to a gift. You could even string them up like a clothesline.

DINOSAUR LABELS: Last year, I used our dinosaur cookie cutters to create dinosaur labels for our Advent calendar gifts. Trace onto a piece of colour card, cut out, number and attach. This could look good with green labels and candy-striped paper.

Dinosaur Advent calendars for happy little dinosaur fans

Our LDA caught me trying to take photos of our dinosaur Advent calendar for this post and she is already warming up her strawberry ice cream smile.

“Can I open just the first one?”

Anticipation is a wonderful thing.

Will it be a Dinosaur Advent calendar this Christmas?
RAWR! Enjoy the festivities, Mamasaurus - sign-off

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Spread Xmas gheer (& glitter) with dinos: Dino-fy your Advent calendar: Pin with image of a green glittery toy dinosaur on pink tissue paper, packed in a gift box

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