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DIY Puzzle Advent Calendar

Advent Calendars | Christmas Crafts

Learn how to create a cute puzzle Advent Calendar for kids! A fun way to count down to Christmas!

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12 Days of Holiday Crafts by Crafting Cheerfully.DIY Puzzle Advent Calendar with a Puzzle Penguin stuffy sitting next to a holiday puzzle.

Like many families we start counting down the time to Christmas with Advent Calendars. In the last few years, we have traded our traditional ones for a few unique DIY calendars that are so much fun! My kids have always loved puzzles, especially my son, so this Puzzle Advent Calendar has been a huge hit. This year my daughter is joining in on the fun for the first time.

One of the great things about this calendar is you can do it year after year just by switching the puzzle for a new one. The other things you make this year, like the cute puzzle messenger bag and the baggie system, can be used year after year. 


A Christmas puzzle is partially assembled, a small red felt bag lays next to it.

How the Puzzle Advent Calendar Works

Each day of December, Puzzle Penguin brings my kids 2-4 puzzle pieces that join together to create a finished puzzle on December 25th. I started this calendar with my son when he was 3. It was perfect because he loves puzzles and I also thought it would be great for him to visually see us getting closer to Christmas. He could see we were getting closer and closer to Christmas as his puzzle became bigger and more completed. After Christmas the kids have a new puzzle to play with all year long!

A partially assembled puzzle next to a small red puzzle bag.

I love this Puzzle Advent Calendar because it is really easy to do each night. Numbering the pieces at the beginning takes a little bit of time, but I’ll show you how I do mine. Once the pieces are numbered, I divide them up into 25 numbered baggies and I’m all set. Each night I just put the next day’s puzzle pieces into Puzzle Penguin’s bag and I’m done! You could use any stuffed animal to deliver the puzzle pieces. I made our Puzzle Penguin’s little messenger bag from felt to hold the pieces – and of course he needed a bowtie to be fancy!

If you love Advent Calendars as much as my family does, check out these other fun calendars I have made for our family!

Supplies Needed for the Puzzle Advent Calendar

  • A puzzle! (check out the next section for some puzzle ideas!)
  • 25 Plastic baggies or containers to sort the pieces into.
  • Pencil to mark the back of the puzzle pieces.
  • Puzzle Penguin Stuffed animal to deliver to the puzzle pieces (or another stuffed animal friend!).
    • We used a 10″ tall penguin from Kohl’s Cares, this stuffed penguin is similar!
  • For the puzzle piece messenger bag

Choosing a Puzzle

Start by picking out a puzzle to use for the Advent Calendar. You can use a Christmas-themed puzzle or pick a puzzle that would interest the recipient. For my kids, I started out using a 60-piece puzzle when my son was 3 but quickly moved to 100 piece puzzles because they were a bit more fun. With a 100 piece puzzles you can give out four pieces a day for a full 25 days. 

I have also created a puzzle calendar for adult family members who happen to love jigsaw puzzles! For them I used 300 piece puzzles which worked out to 12 pieces a day and put them in a homemade Advent Calendar that could hold all of the pieces at once. Creating the calendar with larger puzzles will take longer so keep that in mind! 

Here are a few Christmas-themed puzzles that would be perfect for counting down to Christmas!

For puzzles that are not holiday-themed, check out my roundup of 48 Fun Family Puzzles. There are puzzles of all sizes on the list!

A stack of Christmas puzles.

How to Make the Puzzle Piece Messenger Bag

Choose a cute stuffy to deliver the puzzle pieces each day, then create a little red messenger bag for the puzzle pieces to go inside. You could use boxes, bags or a purchased Advent Calendar to deliver the pieces, but using a stuffy makes this calendar extra cute for little ones!

To make the messenger bag, grab the largest piece from the puzzle you are using and lay it on a piece of red felt. Cut a long rectangle the width of your puzzle piece, plus about 1/2″ on either side. For the size of my puzzle piece, I cut a rectangle 3″ wide by the length of my felt, which was 11″. Cut 1 or 2 thin strips from the felt, about 1/2″ wide. These will be for the bag’s strap.

A puzzle piece lays on a piece of red felt and is measured by a ruler.

Two long rectangles of red felt lay on a white surface, one is very thin and the other wider.

Fold the bottom of the rectangle up to cover the puzzle piece, leaving a little space above and below, to create the bag. For my puzzle piece, this was another 3″.  Next, we need to add a flap so the bag can close. I made my flap 2.5″.

A ruler lays next to a piece of red felt and 2.5" is marked above where the puzzle piece lays.

Stitch the side of the bag closed using white embroidery floss and a small running stitch. Do not stitch the bag’s flap.

The red felt bag is stitched along the sides using white embroidery floss.Both sides of the red felt messenger bag are stitched with white embroidery floss and a puzzle piece sticks out of the bag.

Add the strap to the bag, but first, measure to see how long the strap should be. My puzzle penguin was pretty big, so I stitched two straps together first and then stitched them to the underside of my bag’s flap as pictured below.

Two pieces of red felt are sewn together to create the bag strap.

The messenger bag is pinned together on the penguin stuffed animal.

Red felt strap is pinned to the messenger bag.

Messenger bag strap is stitched to the bag using red embroidery floss.

Trace one of the puzzle pieces onto green felt. Cut it out a little smaller so it will fit on the flap of the bag. Hand-stitch the puzzle piece to the outside of the flap using green embroidery floss and a small running stitch.

A puzzle piece is traced onto green felt.

A green felt puzzle shape is hand stitched to the flap of the messenger bag.

Add Velcro dots so the little messenger bag will stay closed!

Velcro fasteners are added to the bag and under the flap so the messenger bag will stay closed.

Red felt messenger bag lays next to puzzle pieces.

Now, Puzzle Penguin has a little bag to hold the puzzle pieces! The nice thing about this type of Advent Calendar is you can reuse Puzzle Penguin, his bag and the plastic baggies that hold the pieces. Each year I just pick out a new puzzle (holiday or non-holiday) and I’m all set!

Dividing up the Puzzle Pieces: 

For the Puzzle Advent Calendar to work, you will need to divide up the total number of puzzle pieces over 25 days. It is easiest to choose a puzzle that can easily be divided by 25 – like 50 or 100 pieces. You can go bigger so there are more pieces each day, but the bigger you go, the more work it is to divide up the pieces.

Jigsaw puzzle with four pieces removed and placed in a baggie labeled one.

This Ravensburger Puzzle pictured is the puzzle I did for my son last year. It is a 100-piece puzzle (well, it claims to be-there were actually 104 pieces!). The first thing I did was assemble the puzzle. Then, to number the puzzle, I took it apart slowly and rebuilt it, numbering the pieces as I went.

I decided to start with the little boy’s face and end with Santa’s face. So I took the first four pieces by the boys face and numbered them 1 through 4 on the back and then built them in a different place. I then picked another four pieces that connected to the first four and numbered them 5-8 and added them to the first four. I continued this way until the last four pieces, the ones making up Santa’s face, were left. Now, because this puzzle ended up having 104 pieces (next time I’ll count all the pieces before starting!), I had to go back and add a piece to four of the days.

Puzzle with Santa's face missing and pieces in a baggy labeled 25.

Below you can see the back of my puzzle numbered. I used a black pen the first year I did this but since then I have used a pencil. 

The back of the puzzle with the pieces numbered 1 through 104.

Back of the puzzle with numbers on it and pieces in baggies.

I put all the jigsaw pieces in numbered baggies and the calendar was ready! It took me a little over an hour to prepare the baggies but once the baggies are prepared, it will only take a couple minutes each night to get ready for the next day. Each night I add four more pieces to Puzzle Penguin’s bag. Save the numbered baggies as they can be reused if you do this Advent Calendar again! 

Box lid filled with numbered baggies of puzzle pieces.

DIY Puzzle Advent Calendar with a Puzzle Penguin stuffed animal next to a holiday puzzle.

Reuse the Advent Calendar Each Year

This Advent Calendar is so much fun to make a fun, unique way to count down to Christmas. At the end, the kids will have a fun puzzle they can do any time of year. *Update: I did homemade puzzle Advent calendars for my kids three years in a row and it was such a cute countdown. It is inexpensive, just the cost of a new puzzle really, and great for kids (or adults!) who love jigsaw puzzles! 

When I first made this calendar there weren’t any “puzzle Advent Calendars” available to purchase (I tried to buy one but couldn’t find any!). Now that Advent Calendars have continued to grow in popularity and you can find one for almost any hobby or interest there are a few you can purchase which is a lot of fun! This New York Puzzle Company Advent Calendar has a mini puzzle each day leading to Christmas!

While you can purchase a puzzle Advent Calendar, making a homemade version is still a great, less expensive, option that is a cute DIY! Especially if you want to use a cute Puzzle Penguin to deliver the pieces each day!

Below you can see one of the puzzles I used our second year. A 100 piece puzzle called Santa and Friends Jigsaw Puzzle

Santa puzzle partially assembled with a cute felt puzzle bag next to it.

I have also made a homemade Puzzle Advent Calendar for my mom using a 300 piece puzzle. Since I wouldn’t be there each day to add puzzle pieces, I created an Handmade Advent Calendar that could hold all of the pieces at once!

Advent Calendar Handmade with tiny boxes

If you give this DIY Puzzle Advent Calendar a try, I’d love to know! What other fun ways do you count down to Christmas?

I’ll be back tomorrow with another fun DIY for the 3rd Day of a Crafty Christmas!

Happy Crafting! -Kim

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One Comment

  1. What a fun way to do an advent calendar. If I had kids I would this for them. Maybe I will do this for my husband.

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