How to Make a Budget Friendly Book Christmas Countdown

Disclosure: Affiliate links are also used in this post. You can read my full disclosure here.

I have always loved the idea of a book Advent calendar or Christmas countdown, but the reason I hesitated at first was because books can be expensive, especially if you are buying 24 to 25 books!

However, I realized that it can actually be done inexpensively, and books are way better than candy or plastic trinkets that many advent calendars have. One can never have too many books! You can click here or follow the link at the bottom of this post to see which books we got for our toddler.

Here are some ways you can create your own inexpensive book advent calendar:

1. Take Advantage of Store Sales

This year all of the books we got for our daughter came from Target's Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale they had on books early in November. Plus if you have the Target RedCard you can get an extra 5% off and free shipping. If you don't have a RedCard, you can get Target's app, Target Circle, and save an additional 1% on your purchase, and get free shipping if you spend $35. 

I searched the Target site children's books section with prices sorted low to high, and ended up finding books for $3.99 and lower! With the buy 2 get 1 free deal, that made each book around $2.60, which is a pretty good deal. After all the discounts, I spent a total of $58 for 24 books in 2019 (we chose to do 24 since Christmas day will be when she gets the rest of her presents).

Also, don't forget to check out your local Dollar Store or Dollar Tree! I found four PJ Masks ready to read books for $1 apiece! Our Dollar Tree often has adult books too for $1. 

2. Library Sales

We didn't do a book Advent calendar last year, but I did make a trip to the local library book sale and if you are looking for a good deal, it's definitely there! The paperbacks were $0.50 and hardcovers were $1. A lot of the books were actually in really good condition, so definitely recommend checking out your local library to see if they do book sales and stock up if they do!

Also, if you have older kids, you could opt for borrowing 24-25 books from the library and having them read one a day. This may be more difficult with younger children as they may not understand that they can't keep the books at the end, but it's totally at your discretion. This way you don't spend a penny!

3. Just Between Friends 

Just Between Friends (JBF), is a giant consignment sale. They are all over the states and we have a few near us. You can find your nearest event here.

I recommend going on the last day of the sale when things are marked an extra 50% off. You will have to read the tags carefully as not all sellers will participate, but a lot do, so you can easily get books for $1 or less at these sales as well! 

The sales usually happen in the summer and fall, so you will have to stock up and keep the books hidden until December.

4. Thrift Shops

If you have any local thrift shops or a Goodwill near you, check them out for books! I noticed they tend to price them higher than the library or JBF sales, but our thrift shop has days where things are 50% off and then books do end up around $2 or less. Your local thrift shops may be different, so definitely check them out as you never know what deals you can find!

5. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

I am so sad this isn't available in my area, but I have heard amazing things and felt it's worth including in this post because it may be available for you! You can see if there is one in your area here.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails a book to a child from birth to age 5 each month. That's 12 free books a year!

Of course, that's not enough for an advent calendar, and it may be silly to hold onto each book each month just to make a Christmas countdown, but you could probably save November and December's books for the calendar.

6. Mercari, Kidizen, eBay, Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace

I lumped all of these sites together because they are very similar in that they are all online selling sites. Craigslist and Facebook are more local though, so you can meet for pickup which has the added benefit of being able to see the books first. 

Mercari, Kidizen, and eBay are all online selling apps, so items will be shipped. Most sellers will tell you the item condition and provide photos. Plus you can message them beforehand for more photos or details if concerned. 

All of these are a great way to get books for cheap as many will try to sell them in bulk, so you can end up getting books for around $3 or less even with shipping!

If you use my referral link for Mercari, you can get a $10 coupon for your first purchase!

You can also get $5 off your purchase at Kidizen if you use my referral link.

7. Garage & Yard Sales

Honestly, I hardly go to these and the ones I do go to, haven't had books. However, I do see listings of multiple family garage sales from time to time and in those photos, there are books, so I felt I should include it in this list. These are totally dependent on your area, so if possible, look around on Craigslist or NextDoor to see if you can find photos so you know what might be at a sale before taking the time to go, or look specifically for "family," "baby" or "kid" focused garage sales as that's your best bet for children's books.

2019 Book Advent Calendar