What’s better than one holiday present? 24 days of presents!
Advent calendars are all the rage these last few years, but there’s no need to exclude your pet from the daily fun. To include your pets in the everyday holiday cheer, here are some ideas for a pet-themed advent calendar that you can “make” yourself. It’s filled with 24 days of glee and activities for you and your furry friend to remember for holiday seasons to come.
Before we get started, let’s grab the essentials for mapping out your personalized pet advent calendar. First, you’ll want a ruler, two sheets of different colored construction paper, festively colored markers or pens, scissors, tape, and a mindset focused on all things your pet likes.
Using your ruler, draw out four rows with seven columns. You’ll have 28 boxes total, but we’ll only use 24. Cut out little squares from your second sheet of construction paper that you’ll then tape over each box. On the cut-out squares that you’ve just taped down, take your festive markers or pens and number each from 1 to 24.
Now comes the fun part: Writing out the advent calendar surprise under each homemade construction paper square. Since most pets can’t read, these will be daily prompts for you to celebrate with them. (Full disclosure: You may enjoy some of these gifts as much, if not more, than your pet!)
Day 1 – Holiday Portrait Session
Find a festive little nook in your dwelling and stage it with pet-friendly holiday items. Ask a friend to take a photo of you and your pet in your new holiday scene.
An adorable holiday photo can be turned into a digital or printed holiday card for family and friends.
Day 2 – Favorite Treats Surprise
Does your pet have a favorite treat? One that they come running for before you even touch the package? On December 2, get that bag ready to surprise them with their favorite snack.
Day 3 – Watch a Pet-Friendly Movie
Enjoy an evening snuggled up on the couch with your fur-baby watching a pet-friendly movie. Try Beethoven’s Christmas, An American Tail, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever or The Nine Lives of Christmas.
Day 4 – Painting with Paws
Before diving into this activity, be sure your pet is okay with their paws being handled! Next, purchase nontoxic paint and a tiny canvas. Dip your pet’s paw in the paint and help them gently press down on the canvas. If your pet is cooperative with this activity, try adding another paw print or two.
Be sure to have your pet wipes ready or a bath drawn in preparation for quick cleanup.
You can go back later with a paint brush or marker and make the paw prints into festive designs like Christmas trees, Mishumaa Saba or snowmen.
Day 5 – Replace Harmful Holiday Decorations
Mistletoe can be toxic to pets, so instead, opt for a mesh bag of catnip for your feline or anise (“dognip”) for your doggo. In addition, many holiday plants such as holly or poinsettias are also harmful to your animals. Try opting for fake plants instead!
Day 6 – Make a Stocking for Your Pet
Find a gently used stocking and grab a fabric marker to add your pet’s name. Fill with their favorite foods the closer you get to the holiday you celebrate! (Make sure it’s hung high enough that they can’t reach it until the big day.
Day 7 – Spruce Up Their Space
Continue your holiday theme throughout the house! Add a festive blanket to your pet’s space or pick up holiday-themed pet items from the pet store.
Day 8 – Tiny Pet Tree
Fido and Mittens are a part of the family, so they’ll likely be receiving gifts this holiday season! Find a tiny Christmas tree to decorate in your pet’s honor. Look at tomorrow’s activity to gather decorating ideas and don’t forget to keep ornaments away from low hanging branches so your pet can’t reach them!
Day 9 – Create Yummy Ornaments
Hang some vet-approved pet treats on their tree. Your pet will likely be begging for a treat at the smell and sight of this advent day, so be sure to supervise the “unveiling.”
Day 10 – Holiday Paw-ty with Friends
Host a holiday party with friends or family who also have pets. If all your friends’ pets get along, invite their furry comrades to enjoy the festivities, too! Before everyone’s arrival, ask each pet owner to bring an inexpensive pet gift that you can play a White Elephant game with.
Day 11 – Holiday Helper
While wrapping presents, have your furry companion by your side to join in on the action. They’ll likely want to sniff the new items and might get in the way, but that’s part of having a pet. Just being near you while you work will bring them joy.
Note: Keep an extra eye on your furry assistant during this event so they don’t eat wrapping paper or tape while helping you.
Day 12 – Matching Cozy Attire
Matching pajamas have become a trend for the holiday season. Many businesses now sell human pajamas along with matching pet pajamas or bandanas. Dress up this evening in your adorable get-ups, and don’t forget to take a photo for the ’Gram!
Day 13 – Rock Around the House
Did you know that some industrious musical elves have made holiday music for pets? Go to Spotfiy, Amazon music or YouTube and search for holiday pet music. Then rock out with Mittens for at least one song.
Day 14 – Holiday Treasure Hunt
Grab Fido’s favorite treats you bought for Day 2 and hide some around the house for them to find.
Day 15 – Shopping for Presents
Many pet stores allow Fido and Mittens to visit as long as they’re on a leash. Take your cat or dog to sniff out their future winter holiday present. It’ll be an adventure for you both!
Day 16 – Extra Pet Time
Sometimes your pet just wants extra snuggles or playtime! Clear your evening calendar to do just that. It’ll feel like the holidays came early to them!
Day 17 – Create a Festive Obstacle Course
Get out the hula hoop, yoga mat, couch cushions, holiday lights, sheets and broom! Let your imagination run wild constructing a homemade obstacle course for your furry friend to explore. Place treats along the route for extra excitement.
Day 18 – Make a Donation in Your Pet’s Name
Choose a local animal shelter and make a donation on behalf of your pet! The gift will help animals in need this holiday season.
Day 19 – Pampered Paws
Run the bath or grab the pet wipes to get Mittens smelling fresh. Next, brush out their fur, paying special attention to their head, chin or back. Lastly, lay out a cozy blanket for them to snuggle up in to round off the pampered evening.
Day 20 – Cooking for Fido
Pet-friendly websites like Chewy.com have curated treat recipes for your furry companion’s delight! Before making anything, we recommend double-checking the ingredient list with our healthy snacks list for do’s and don’ts.
Day 21 – Enjoy the Holiday Lights
Get Fido and Mittens in their harnesses and go see holiday lights in your neighborhood. Some pets do better riding in the car than going for a walk, so be sure to adjust your evening plans to best fit your pet’s needs.
Day 22 – Snack Attack Part Two
It’s another treat treasure hunt day! Hide Fido’s normal number of treats around the house, but this time in different areas than you did for the last treasure hunt.
Day 23 – Last-Minute Preparations
Last minute preparations don’t have to be stressful. Turn on the holiday pet music, unbox those late-arriving presents (providing Mittens with a new box to play in) and get all in order with your furry companion by your side.
Day 24 – Holiday Snuggles
Whether you’re hosting a holiday celebration or traveling to see loved ones, be sure to show your pet a little extra compassion today. Chances are it’s a little overwhelming to be around a lot of people, so extra snuggles or head pats can reassure them all is alright.
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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.