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How to Make an Advent Calendar for University Students

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Christmas is not far away!

What better way for your student to count down the days until they come home than with a personalised advent calendar? All students love to receive a care package with useful or fun gifts that show you care and you're thinking of them.

So why not make your own advent calendar for them with cheap and cheerful gifts that will put a smile on their face and won't break the bank?

fir tree branch with hanging gifts and fircones

In this post, I am going to give you 24 gift ideas for a student advent calendar, each of which should cost no more than 5 euros, pounds or dollars. You can use these ideas as inspiration to make your own advent calendar, or mix and match as you like.

The best part is that you don't need to buy a fancy expensive calendar box or bag. You can just use envelopes, paper bags, cardboard boxes or whatever you have on hand. Just make sure you number them from 1 to 24 and decorate them with stickers, ribbons or drawings.

Alternatively, you can order or buy inexpensive advent gift bags and wrap each gift to go inside. If you're sending this as a care package to your student's halls of residence, you can put it all in a box and they'll have fun putting the bags together themselves.

I've done this with my kids and they LOVED it!


Why You Should Make Your Own Advent Calendar

There are so many benefits to making your own advent calendar. Let's explore a few of them:

Save Money

By making your own, you can save money compared to buying a commercial advent calendar. Plus you can choose personal items that will be fun and / or useful.

Be Creative

Show You Care


Materials and Tools Needed to Make Your Advent Calendar

To make your own advent calendar, you'll need a few basic materials and tools.

Here's what you'll need:

You can use small bags such as these inexpensive advent calendar bags from IKEA to hold each day's surprise. Get creative with ribbons, wrapping paper and other decorative materials to add to the anticipation of opening the gift and make your advent calendar visually appealing. Decorate the bags with festive stickers to add a touch of holiday spirit.

If you're sending this as a parcel to university, the gifts need to be wrapped to keep the surprise! And don't forget to write or stick the numbers 1-24 on each bag!

24 Affordable and Fun Ideas for Advent Calendar Gifts

Here are our top gift ideas for under a fiver to include in your student's advent calendar:

  1. Cosy socks: Nothing beats a warm and cosy pair of socks on a cold winter's day. Choose from a festive design, a fun slogan or a cute animal print.

  2. Mini candle: A mini candle can create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere in any room. Choose a seasonal scent such as cinnamon, apple pie or pine. As warned in our prohibited items blog, candles should not be lit in Uni halls!

  3. Lip balm: A lip balm is a must for any student to keep their lips moisturized and protected from the harsh weather. If you don't know their favourite, choose a natural unscented one.

  4. 2024 Mini Year Planner: A desktop calendar is a useful gift to help students plan their work, assignments, leisure time and trips home.

  5. Multi-functional Tool: This little 23-in-1 gadget is a great practical gift that can help your student carry out their own DIY on site.

  6. Chewing gum: A pack of gum is a simple and sweet gift that can freshen up anyone's breath and mood!

  7. Lottery ticket: A lottery ticket is a fun and exciting gift that could change your student's life and give them the chance to win big. You never know, it could be their lucky day!

  8. Rattle magnet: The spinning magnets are a fun toy or tool made of Hematite which is said to be a grounding stone for stress relief, and protection against negative energy.

  9. Nail polish: A nail polish is a nice and simple gift that can add colour and sparkle to any outfit. You can choose a classic or trendy shade, or one with some effects such as glitter or matte.

  10. Chocolate: A packet (or a few) of their favourite chocolate, or M&Ms will satisfy any sweet tooth cravings and make them instantly happy.

  11. Starbucks giftcard: Any coffee lover will appreciate this.

  12. A face mask: A face mask, hair mask or foot mask is a great gift for your student to have a bit of a pamper session.

  13. Travel size products: Any travel size products will be handy for overnight stays or weekends away.

  14. Inflatable photo frame: This fun frame is great to create memories before all the house mates go home for Christmas.

  15. Beer Pong: Yes, I know we shouldn't encourage drinking games, but the truth is that the majority of students will do it anyway! And they should be responsible enough to use a soft drink instead of beer! Even the Princess of Wales has been known to get competitive with this game, according to her cousin-in-law!

  16. Hair accessories: A packet of hair ties, that always go missing, or a favourite hair styling product is always a safe bet and useful gift.

  17. Tea bags: We are Yorkshire Tea drinkers in our household, and my daughter can get through a LOT of cups in one day! Send a packet of their favourite tea or choose a tea that has a calming or stimulating effect, such as chamomile, peppermint or green tea.

  18. Nail file: One never has enough of these and unless they're organised, your student may not find where they put their last one down anyway!

  19. Workout game: The Decision Dice Workout is a set of 4 dice that gives a little push into deciding which body workout exercise to do: Yoga, Drill, and Cardio.

  20. Novelty Toy: For when they're bored or provoking a flat mate, the novelty toy Flick a Chicken will keep them amused.

  21. Reusable straw: Choose a straw made of metal, silicone or bamboo for a sustainable gift.

  22. Fidget Spinner: Another gadget - the fidget spinner is a handy habit-breaking and boredom-busting tool that that helps combat stress and anxiety, and a proven track record of helping people quit unwanted habits like smoking or nail-biting.

  23. Christmas Game: A fun game to play with house mates.

  24. Amazon giftcard: An Amazon giftcard is a great gift that gives your student funds to buy anything they may have spotted on Amazon.

These are just some of my ideas to make an awesome advent calendar for your university students. I hope you have fun creating your own advent calendar and making your student happy this Christmas. 🎄🎁

Alternatively, if you are looking for a ready-made option, click below for our list of commercial Advent Calendars.

If you need more help or guidance on how to navigate the transition from high school to university, check out our website. There you will find useful blogs, resources, and tips on how to help your children survive and thrive on campus.

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