'Tis the season for sharing joy—and what better way to do it than with a DIY advent calendar full of tasty treats and fun toys for your best furry friend? Your dog or cat will love seeing what surprise each day brings, and you’ll love how happy they are with each of their gifts!
We’ve made it easy for you to create an advent calendar for pets with step-by-step instructions, along with suggestions for holiday-themed treats and toys to tuck away inside. This seven-day advent calendar will help you and your pet get into the holiday spirit in the week leading up to Christmas.
approximately 6 feet
Pro tip: Swing by your local crafts store for a ready-made garland that’s pre-lit and battery-operated. Then, forage some real conifer greenery to add to it to give your faux garland a lush, authentic look—and that heavenly holiday smell.
1- to 3-foot strips per bucket, depending on how you hang the buckets
Pro tip: Choose either one print/color for a consistent, coordinated look or a variety for a more festive feel.
Tin buckets with handles
Treats and toys, of course!
Optional: Pinecones, artificial berries or seasonal pet-safe florals, lights, etc.
Number each bucket.
Fill each bucket with goodies.
Don’t overdo it on the treats or toys, though! You don’t want the buckets to be too heavy. You also don’t want to feed your pet too many treats.
So, opt for a small or light toy; and for treats, follow the feeding instructions on the packaging and only drop in the recommended amount for your pet. (Treats should only constitute a small percentage of your pet’s daily food. Feeding too many treats can lead to nutrient deficiencies.)
Then, stuff the buckets with tissue paper for an added decorative touch and pop of color.
Attach each bucket to the garland.
If you have longer, 2- to 3-foot strips of ribbon (as seen in the photo above), loop each piece of ribbon through the bucket’s handle and tie the two ends onto the garland.
If you have shorter, 1-foot ribbons, tie one end of the ribbon onto the handle and then tie the other end onto the garland. You can decide if your buckets will hang at varying lengths or if you’d like them to be the same across.
Continue until all buckets are attached to the garland.
Place your garland.
Gently lay your garland across a mantle, shelf or counter. Just be sure to keep your DIY advent calendar out of reach of curious pets. Otherwise, it’ll spoil the surprise!
If needed, secure the garland with adhesive hooks.
Add more festive décor!
Holiday Treats and Toys
Temptations Classic Holiday Dinner Turkey & Sweet Potato Cat Treats ($9)
Give your kitty a yummy holiday dinner in treat form with these soft-centered—and low-calorie!—nibbles.
Greenies Holiday Chicken Flavor Variety Pack Cat Treats ($8)
Add this to your cat advent calendar to help your kitty start the new year off right with less tartar buildup and fresher breath.
Homemade Gingerbread Man Holiday Cat Treats
Make a batch of these easy cat treats packed with tasty ginger and pumpkin flavors. Gift a few to fellow cat parents, too!
Frisco Holiday Mice Cat Toy with Catnip (four-count, $5)
These cute little mice are the perfect addition to any cat advent calendar for a catnip-loving kitty.
Frisco Holiday Santa & Mrs. Claus Bouncy Cat Toy with Catnip (two-count, $4)
Playful cats love to bite and bat these bouncy string toys.
The Lazy Dog Cookie Co. Home for the Holidays Maple Glazed Ham Dog Treats ($7)
While you’re enjoying your holiday ham, your pup can have their own tasty treat, too, from their personalized advent calendar.
SmartBones Holiday Canes Rawhide-Free Chicken Flavor Chewy Dog Treats (six-count, $14)
Tuck one (or two) of these into the advent calendar for your dog, and they’ll be a pleased pooch!
Homemade Gingerbread Icebox Cookies for Dogs
Your pup will go crazy for these dried fruits-stuffed holiday cookies. Gift them to your pup’s friends, too!
Frisco Holiday Hot Cocoa Hide & Seek Puzzle Plush Squeaky Dog Toy Set (four-count, $11)
Keep your pup active during those chilly winter days with this fun puzzle game.
Frisco Holiday Wreath with Bow Braided Ring Dog Toy ($7)
No advent calendar for a dog is complete without a toy that’s perfect for a spirited game of tug-of-war.
More easy DIY projects for crafty pet parents: