I love advent calenders, I always have done. When I was a kid I used to love opening the little windows to see what picture I would get each day (we didn't have chocolates back then - sigh!) I looked forward to the 25th so much. Usually that would be a bigger window with double doors (woooh!) and you knew there would be a nativity scene behind it.
When the kids were really young they had shop bought standard calenders, you know they type - the rather un-Christmassy picture on the front and the microscopic chocolates behind the doors. So probably about 12 years ago (maybe longer) they made there own and in typical "waste not want not", "ain't broken don't fix it" style we have been breaking them out every year since. I add a little sweet for each day, mostly chewies as I like to use ones which are wrapped, but the odd mini chocolate Santa or coin gets in there too.
So today I'm sharing our old homemade calenders in all their slightly beat up glory and a few words about how we made them.
Plus I have a fantastic collection of great DIY advent calender ideas and tutorials which might inspire you to make your own too. Who knows, you might still be using it in 10+ years like us!
First then our oldies but goodies:
Our daughter made this papermache masterpiece.
It is a large piece of thick card with 25 small boxes glued on. We saved a load of boxes, the sort that toothpaste comes in is a good size, you can use both ends because you want to cut the top off anyway.
The whole thing was then papermached all over with kitchen roll and watered down pva.
Then when it was dry it was painted with green acrylic paint.
Then she went to town cutting out coloured card shapes and decorating them with 1 to 25. She used mostly puff paints, but I think there are some sequins on there too.
When the paint was dry the numbers got glued on randomly and a few final flourished added with gold and silver pen.
Here's a word of warning if you do have a go, don't use very thin, narrow boxes (like number 7 in the photo below), it is really hard to get the sweets out!
The boys both went for a matchbox version. Unsurprisingly you need 25 matchboxes to make one of these. You can buy matchboxes especially for crafts but I actually found it cheaper to buy boxes with matches in them and we haven't run out of matches since!
The boys decided on the arrangement of boxes they wanted and we glued them together. Then we covered the edges with a strip of coloured paper.
The slidey out bit of the matchboxes had a paperfastener added to make a little handle. I did this by stabbing though with a skewer holding a lump of bluetack inside. I did NOT let the kids do that bit!
We drew numbers on each drawer front and they each got a sprinkling of glitter "snow".Then they stuck some decorations on. A cake decoration boy, a little paper tree, tiny people meant for model railways and some (giant!) presents made from playdough to go round the Christmas tree, sadly I see a few have dropped off over the years :-(
The last homemade Advent Calender in our house is one I made for my husband a few years ago as a surprise. He insists we share it so each year one of us is odds and the other evens.
This was super easy. I cut manilla envelopes in half and just glued them to make little packets and then just Googled Christmassy numbers, printed them out and stuck them on. The little packets are just attached to a length of wool by an assortment of mini clothes pegs. Ours is in number order as we don't have time in the mornings to be looking for the right day, however by about the 10th it doesn't hang very straight. The weight of the sweets on the right makes it pull across - by the 25th they are all gone and it hangs beautifully again. You might want to mix the numbers up to stop that happening.
Inspired to make your own Advent Calender this year?
There's still time and they don't have to be involves a sweet each day. Check out some of these lovely ideas too, lots of fabulous alternatives.
This little clay ornament garland from Eat, Knit and DIY is so delicate, I love the jingle bells.
This round advent calender by Organized 31 is made from an old record - how clever is that?!
This cute washing line Advent Calender from Creative Ramblings has a fun activity to do each day, and is decorated with washi tape (love washi tape!)
This beautiful fabric tree from Little Red Window gets gradually decorated as Christmas gets closer, so beautiful.
This washing line idea from While He Was Napping also has activities for each day, and free printables included.
This mini chest of drawers by Ribbons and Glue is just stunning, I love the metallic finish papers.
Hugs are Fun have created this beautiful modern felt Advent Calender with a brilliant super clear step by step tutorial.
Christina, Plain and Simple had a genius idea and did a temporary switch round on an exisiting piece of art just for Christmas time - clever stuff!
My Treasures shared this cute Christmas Countdown quite a few years ago now, I love that fact that, just like ours, you can tell that children were really involved making these!
Here is another from Creative Ramblings, little bead pots attached to a baking tray with magnets, how cute is that?
Mabey She Made It has a competition running right now to win a pattern to make this beautiful Advent Calender from Sugar House Shop (there are other designs as well and she has a discount code too)
I have more advent calender ideas on my It's Christmas pinterest board too along with lots of other festive bits and pieces.
Maybe this will be the year when you make a family heirloom calender.
Don't worry if you've already bought a shop version, you can just eat those teeny chocolates with a cup of tea whilst making your home made masterpiece, no-one will ever know!
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