I'm not really into advent calendars with chocolates or gifts each day ... I think Christmas is commercial enough already. Which is why I love the tradition Andrea from A Peek Inside the Fishbowl has for the 25 Days of Christmas. In her words:
"Instead of buying a chocolate advent calendar I decided to surprise the girls with one Christmas-related activity everyday throughout the month of December; a fun task, seasonal event, or craft. No chocolate, no shopping, and no cheap gifts — just family time."
I love this idea, and I"m going to give it a try this year. I'm undecided about whether I'll do the whole 25 days, or start a little alter, maybe on St. Nicholas Day. It all depends on how many activities I can come up with! I think I'm planning to use envelopes for the activities this year, but if we enjoy it I'll look into making some kind of calendar with pockets for future years.
ETA: Lynn at Turtlehead has just posted about the (gorgeous) advent calendar she's created for her family's advent activities. She also lists the activities they'll be doing, so if you're looking for inspiration, click on over!