DIY Advent Calendar Ideas for Runners

Advent calendars are used to count down the days between December 1st and Christmas Eve. Often shaped like a thick book or plank, advent calendars are typically filled with chocolates or other small gifts that can be revealed as the days are counted. 

Traditional advent calendars were first used in Germany in the 19th century; today novelty advent calendars are most often filled with small chocolates. Increasingly, special niche advent calendars can be purchased. There are wine and beer advent calendars, calendars filled with dinosaur toys, makeup and jewelry, tea, LEGO sets, and much more. 

But there doesn't seem to be a commercially available advent calendar for runners

That's ok -- there are plenty of empty DIY advent calendars that can be filled with anything you can imagine. If you're looking to give an advent calendar to a runner friend, here are some ideas to fill those 24 boxes.

Empty Advent Calendar or other means of gathering and wrapping the gifts

First, you'll need a vessel for your collection of advent calendar gifts. There are ready made calendars in the shape of a box, or more unique ways of wrapping the daily gifts -- you can go totally DIY with paper bags, reusable containers, or other options. Below are some empty calendars you can purchase to get started.

Juegoal Advent Calendar with 25 Drawers Countdown to Christmas, Refillable Wooden Advent Xmas Gift for Kids, 12 Inches Tall – Countdown 25 days to 2020 Christmas with this festival wood tree advent calendar. Both kids and adults are love this traditional Christmas calendar.; Includes 25 operable... View on Amazon
LIHAO Christmas Advent Calendar Box 2021, 24 Days Countdown to Christmas Printed Cardboard Gift Treasure Box - Make & Fill Your Own Advent Calendar for Party Present Decoration – COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS: This advent calendar completes with 24 numbered cardboard boxes.; PERSONALIZED SURPRISES: Each gift box measures 2.7x2.7x2.7 inches. You can put small coins, treats,... View on Amazon
D-FantiX Christmas Advent Calendar 2021, 24 Days Burlap Hanging Advent Calendars Garland Candy Gift Bags Sacks DIY Xmas Countdown Christmas Decorations for Wall Home Office – Count Down to Christmas - Christmas Advent Calendar is designed like a garland with Christmas tree, star, and heart shape and numbers from 1-24 counting down... View on Amazon
Zcaukya Christmas Advent Calendar, Pre-lit LED Wooden Reindeer Christmas Advent Calendar with 24 Drawers, 24 Days Christmas Countdown Calendar – Zcaukya pre-lit LED wooden reindeer Christmas advent calendar is sized in 10.6" x 13.7" x 2", and requires 2 AA batteries (not included) for power supply.;... View on Amazon

Gift Ideas for a Runner Themed Advent Calendar

Since advent calendar boxes or containers are limited in size, look for small gifts. Keep in mind that you don't have to keep up the runner theme for 100% of the daily gifts. Think about your recipient and include things they might like that are not necessarily running related. Here are some ideas for filling those 24 little spaces.

1 Running Fuel: Gels, Gummies, Stroopwaffels

Found on Amazon

Do you know what type of running fuel your runner likes to use on long runs? Consider offering different flavors, fuel types, or other snacks designed for athletes. If your runner likes trying new things to eat, you could fill several days in the advent calendar with race nutrition. You could buy a big assorted pack of GU like the one shown here to get started. Better yet would be to visit a local running store to make your purchase. You can get a bigger variety of race fuels without making a bulk buy. And you can probably find a lot more goodies for your runner's advent calendar.

2 Dollar Store Finds

Have a look around your local dollar store for ideas to fill some of the advent calendar days. Keep the price low on some days to have money left over for some splurges. Have a look at salty and gummy snacks, water bottles, hair bands and ties, exercise aids or physical games, sample sizes of health and beauty products that a runner would love, sanitizing wipes, and even runner accessories (I've seen running armbands at our local shop).

3 Runner Christmas Ornament

Found on Amazon

Keep it festive with a runner-themed Christmas tree ornament like this glass running shoe. Have your runner open this one up earlier in the month for maximum enjoyment throughout the month.

4 Gift a Race Entry

If your runner likes racing, gifting a bib is a great way to fill a box or two on your runner advent calendar. Have a look at race websites like to find a local race. Or pick a virtual race that supports a cause important to your runner, or one that includes fun or unique swag. Each race entry you include in your box is like including a t-shirt, bib, and race medal in that tiny box. Not to mention the fun and memories made on race day!

5 Motivational Runner Jewelry

Found on Amazon

A trinket like this "Just Keep Running" bangle bracelet will fit in a small space and makes a fun gift if your runner wears jewelry. You could also look for other running themed jewelry like a marathon distance necklace, runner icon earrings, or runner charm bracelet.


ROAD iD makes safety identification wearables for runners and other athletes. The tags can be worn on bracelets, on your runner GPS watch band, on your shoe, and elsewhere. In case of emergency, wearing a ROAD iD can save your life by providing identification and medical information to emergency workers, as well as emergency contact information. Giving the gift of ROAD iD is a great way to show your runner you care about them. ROAD iD offers gift cards in case you're not sure which style of ID your runner would prefer.

More! More! More Runner Advent Calendar Ideas

Here are some more ideas for filling your runner advent calendar. It's okay to include items like socks or race nutrition on multiple days.

Motivational Runner Keychain

One Weak Keychain – Another awesome gift idea from WeRunForFun! This is a simple phrase that means so much when you pay attention to the spelling. Everyone knows 7 days... View on Zazzle
My Mouth Runs Better Than I Do Keychain – Another awesome gift idea from WeRunForFun! This funny slogan is for runners who also enjoy a good conversation. View on Zazzle
Runner At Work Keychain – Another awesome gift idea from WeRunForFun! This fun design looks like an informational warning sign indicating an impending hazard. The hazard here is just to watch... View on Zazzle
Keep Calm and Run Slow Keychain – Another great gift idea from We Run For Fun! This is a Keep Calm and Carry On propaganda slogan spoof for runners who believe the... View on Zazzle

Recovery Bath Bombs for Runners

Muscle Rehab Handmade Bath Bombs for Athletes & Muscle Recovery- Pure Essential Oils, Packed with Muscle Recovery Minerals 4 Pack- FREE SHIPPING – Muscle recovery to revive tired muscles and achy joints; Targets lactic acid buildup and on set muscle soreness; Arnica, natures powerhouse a proven natural powerhouse; Handmade... View on Amazon
AcuPlus Pain Relief Bath Bomb - Advanced Therapeutic Pain Relief & Recovery from Muscle Aches and Body Pain (4.5 Ounce Bath Bomb 6 Pack) – SOOTHING AND NOURISHING: Relieve pain and stress with the AcuPlus Pain Relief BATH Bomb and get the same relief from Pain and Stiffness that you get... View on Amazon
Coach Soak: Muscle Recovery Bath Soak - Natural Magnesium Muscle Relief & Joint Soother - 21 Minerals, Essential Oils & Dead Sea Salt - Absorbs Faster Than Epsom Salt for Soaking (Energizing Citrus) – ✔️ SOOTHE SORE MUSCLES & JOINTS - Our muscle recovery bath salts are formulated with fast-absorbing magnesium flakes, mineral-rich dead sea salts, Vitamin C crystals, and... View on Amazon
Epsoak Sport Lavender Epsom Salt for Athletes - 5 lbs. Soothing Therapeutic Soak with Lavender Essential Oil… – EPSOAK SPORT - Made with Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate); TRAIN HARD, RECOVER EASY - Epsoak Epsom Salts help to soothe muscle pain, relieve aching feet, reduce... View on Amazon

Lock Laces & Other Shoe Laces

LOCK LACES (Elastic No Tie Shoe Laces) (Pack of 3) (Black-Green-Blue) – No-Tie Lacing System: Turn any pair of lace-up tennis shoes into slip on sneakers. Lock Laces are the original, no tie shoe laces with over 5... View on Amazon
Fundraising For A Cause | Breast Cancer Pink Ribbon Shoelaces (56 Inches) - Breast Cancer Awareness Shoelaces for Runners, Hikers, and Other Athletes (1 Card with 2 Pairs)… – PINK RIBBON SHOELACES: These pink ribbon shoelaces are perfect to wear during charity runs/walks and other Breast Cancer awareness active events. Gift these pink ribbon shoelaces... View on Amazon
Caterpy Run - The Ultimate Elastic No Tie Shoelaces for Adults (30in / 75cm, Dragonscale Red) – EASY TO INSTALL & REUSE : Put in Caterpy laces as you would with traditional shoelaces, there's no extra hardware to install. You just lace up... View on Amazon
HOMAR No Tie Shoelaces for Kids and Adults Stretch Silicone Elastic No Tie Shoe Laces – Turn Your Shoes into A Slip-on – No tie shoe laces made from premium and stretchable silicone, quite time-saving, conform to your foot to a flexible... View on Amazon

Night Runner Safety Lights

500 Lumens USB Rechargeable Headlamp,Lightweight,Super Bright LED Running Headlamp for Runner,Rainstorm Waterproof,Hoxida LED Headlight Flashlight With Sensor Switch - Built-in Battery – [Super bright and 5 Mode] --- CREE LED (100,000 hours lifespan) with a super bright 500 lumen light your way up to 500ft on the brightest... View on Amazon
Knuckle Lights Colors - Running Light for Runners, Joggers, Dog Walking, Camping & Hiking. Unique LED Flashlight as an Alternative to Headlamps. A Great Addition to Your Night Reflective Running Gear – JUST GRAB AND GO - No need to fumble with clunky headlamps, bulky vests, waist or shoe lights. Grab your Knuckle Lights and quickly head out... View on Amazon
AVANTO PRO Chest Running Light for Runners and Joggers, Original, Adjustable Beam and Reflector, All in one Reflective Running Vest Gear, Safety Light, Headlamp Flashlights, USB LED Bicycle Light – 👍 THE BEST HANDSFREE FLASHLIGHT - All in 1 - you won't need other reflective gear or headlamps. Front and backlight, and reflectors on straps; 👍... View on Amazon
Nathan Grip-Free Running FlashLight with Emergency Whistle. Hand Held Torch Terra Fire 300 R. LED Light for Runners, Walkers, Cyclist, Kids, Security. Handheld uses 2xAA Batteries – LED LIGHT: Cree White LED running specific flashlight features an integrated 24-degree downward projection angle to focus light on the path ahead of you during a... View on Amazon

Anti-Chafing & Blister Prevention Products

body glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm, 1.5oz – Apply before you get dressed, on thighs, neck, arms, and anywhere skin is rubbed. Stop trouble before it starts; Made with allergen free, plant-derived ingredients. Vegan... View on Amazon
RunGoo Blister Prevention Cream Specifically Formulated for Feet (3 oz) – Longest lasting blister prevention; For all running sports; Non-staining & no residue; Limits callus formation; Easy applicator cap. View on Amazon
Chafezone Anti Chafing Stick, 1.5 Ounce – Lasts As Long As You Do: Our water resistant skin protectant doesn't break down easily in sweat, chlorine, or salt water; Helps prevent chafing in the... View on Amazon

Arm Warmers & Running Sleeves

Running Arm Warmer for Women - Compression Sleeves for Runners with Thumbholes - in it for The Long Run Pink – Runners sleeves for arm with thumb holes. Spandex extra strech. Soft and solid. Running arm warmer for running races. Will keep your arm worm while keeping... View on Amazon
9 Pairs Bememo Unisex UV Protection Sleeves Long Arm Sleeves Cooling Sleeves Arm Cover Sleeves for Men Women (Solid Colors) – Elastic arm sleeves: wrist circumference is approx. 16 to 28 cm/ 6 to 11 inches, upper circumference is approx. 22 to 34 cm/ 8.7 to 13.4... View on Amazon
Runners Compression Arm Sleeve Men Women Running Jogging Marathon Track Spartan by Bucwild Sports (1 Sleeve - USA Flag - Adult Small) – Order is for 1 compression arm sleeve; COMFORTABLE COMPRESSION FIT...Bucwild Sports poly-spandex moisture wicking material will keep your arm dry and your muscles warm; PEAK PERFORMANCE...Each... View on Amazon
Compression Arm Sleeve For Men & Women - UV Sun Protection Cooling Arm Sleeves for Women With Thumb Holes For Tattoo Cover Up, Cycling, Golfing, Gaming, Fishing, Gardening 1 Pair White – Comfortable With Perfect Stretch ( MADE IN TAIWAN ) - Mild compression sleeves for arms women are made of soft, durable, long lasting 88% Nylon with... View on Amazon

KT Sports Tape in Fun Patterns

KT Tape Pro Kinesiology Therapeutic Sports Tape, 20 Precut 10 inch Strips, Latex Free, Water Resistance, Pro & Olympic Choice, Pink Polka Dots – WHAT IS KT TAPE? – Elastic sports tape used by pro and serious athletes to support muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It’s drug-free, latex-free, hypoallergenic, lightweight,... View on Amazon
KT Tape Pro Kinesiology Therapeutic Sports Tape, 20 Precut 10 inch Strips, Latex Free, Water Resistance, Pro & Olympic Choice, Aquaduct – WHAT IS KT TAPE? – Elastic sports tape used by pro and serious athletes to support muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It’s drug-free, latex-free, hypoallergenic, lightweight,... View on Amazon
KT Tape Pro Kinesiology Therapeutic Sports Tape, 20 Precut 10 inch Strips, Latex Free, Water Resistance, Pro & Olympic Choice, Pink Argyle – WHAT IS KT TAPE? – Elastic sports tape used by pro and serious athletes to support muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It’s drug-free, latex-free, hypoallergenic, lightweight,... View on Amazon
KT Tape Pro Kinesiology Therapeutic Sports Tape, 20 Precut 10 inch Strips, Latex Free, Water Resistance, Pro & Olympic Choice, Blue Ice Crystals – WHAT IS KT TAPE? – Elastic sports tape used by pro and serious athletes to support muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It’s drug-free, latex-free, hypoallergenic, lightweight,... View on Amazon

Last But Not Least: Runner Socks!

Saucony Women's Performance Heel Tab Athletic Socks (8 & 16, Black Assorted (8 Pairs), Shoe Size: 10-13 – Heel tab design for added protection and comfort; AirmeshVenting Technology for advanced breathability; Targeted zone cushioning in high impact areas for added comfort and comfort toe... View on Amazon
Balega Blister Resist No Show Socks For Men and Women (1 Pair), Ethereal Blue/Light Aqua, Large – Natural fiber no-show running sock features the best of nature and technology by combining natural mohair with Drynamix for ultimate anti-blister performance; Soft, durable mohair features... View on Amazon
Eallco Womens Ankle Socks 6 Pairs Running Athletic Cushioned Sole Socks With Tab – Womens ankle socks with cushioned sole are designed for moisture-wicking and extra comfort in high-wear area.; Womens athletic socks with cushioned tabs on the heel prevent... View on Amazon
Injinji Men's Liner + Runner Mini-Crew (Small/Medium, Black) – Injinji's five-toe patented designed specifically for runners and hikers; Prevents blisters & hotspots while running; Ideal use for running, walking and athletic activities; Superior mositure management... View on Amazon


Of course, there are plenty of pre-made advent calendars that would suit many runners, like the aforementioned beer and wine calendars!

I mean, Runner's World came out with a list of advent calendars for runners a while back, and none of them are actually for runners specifically. So you can definitely have fun with your DIY runner advent calendar. Heck, throw a beer or chocolate in there, too!

The supermarket chain Aldi has decreed today, November 3rd, to be Advent Calendar Day. That's because today is the release date for many of their extremely popular calendars, some of which typically sell out on day one (today!). That also makes today the perfect date for posting a list of runner advent calendar gift ideas. :)


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