Saturday, 23 November 2013

Our 2013 Advent Calendar {a tutorial}

I’ve just finished making our advent calendar for this year.

Instead of having chocolate or lolly treats inside, this year I’ve decided to make it activity-based, and each day, inside our advent calendar is a little Christmassy activity, to get us into the spirit (not that we really need help with that, we may or may not have had our tree up for a week already, and been listening to Christmas music for at least twice that long!).

I trawled Pinterest adding ideas to my advent calendar board, included the various Christmas parties and events that were already scheduled, and soon enough, I had 24 fun activities ready to go!

Here is our list of Advent Calendar Activities:

  1. Make our advent wreath (this year we are going to follow the advent candle liturgy at home, as well as at our church).
  2. Make Christmas cards (Lincraft had 50% off their Christmas stock – already! – and I grabbed a bunch of Christmas craft kits, including star-shaped Christmas cards, with lots of stickers and embellishments)
  3. Trip to Little Monkeys (Our local indoor play centre. We’ve been intending to go all year and it just hasn’t happened. I want to do it before the school holidays starts, so that there will be fewer kids there).
  4. Playgroup Christmas Party.
  5. Make a paper chain decoration for our house (we did this last year and Mayana loved it. Incidentally, did you know that Peter is not allowed to make paper chains with his kids at Kindy because it symbolises oppression? Sheesh!)
  6. Have a Christmas dance party! (Anyone who’s met Mayana will know that she loves a good dance party!)
  7. Watch a Christmas movie.
  8. Read some Christmas books! (These will be special gifts, too)
  9. Make woven bauble decorations (another 50% off Lincraft kit)
  10. Make and play with Christmas playdough. (I will probably make it green, and maybe flavour it with mint to make it multi-sensory. We’ll cut Christmas tree shapes and decorate them with sequins and beads etc.)
  11. Make Christmas angels. (Another craft kit that I picked up for $2 at Kmart a few months ago)
  12. Make presents for some friends. (I bought small papier-mâché gift boxes from Aldi a few months ago.. we’ll decorate/paint them as gifts)
  13. Go looking at Christmas lights.
  14. Watch a Christmas movie.
  15. Read some Christmas books.
  16. Choose some toys to give away (Our very small playroom is pretty much as full of toys as it can handle, so we are going to prepare for the inevitable onslaught by giving some of them away and making room. I actually can’t WAIT for this day!)
  17. Go Christmas shopping for Papa.
  18. Make some wrapping paper (and wrap Papa’s present).
  19. Make Christmas tree biscuits.
  20. Decorate the biscuits. (This has been a tradition of ours for the past two years) 
  21. Christmas with the Friends (our Christmas with Pete’s side of the family)
  22. Tonight’s your Christmas Show! (The kids at our Church are putting on a show. Mayana is playing Mary!)
  23. Make our gingerbread nativity. (Another tradition of ours. in 2011 we made a traditional gingerbread house, last year we made an Aussie Homestead version, and this year we are going to try our hands at a nativity scene)
  24. Read the Christmas story in the Bible. (This is a tradition too… a before-bed thing on Christmas Eve, snuggled together on the couch)

So, list done! Next thing was to decide how to make the advent calendar. I wanted to do something that would double as a Christmas decoration. There are stacks of ideas on Pinterest (I pinned some of my favourites) and I sort of combined a few ideas for ours. I used this idea last year too, but just had a lolly and a decoration (which I’ll explain in a minute) in them.

So I popped all my activities in  a fancy font in a Publisher document and cut them into strips.


Next up, I needed toilet rolls. We certainly go through enough of them in our house, and there is a special basket in our making room full of them. They come in handy for heaps of arts and crafts! For this advent calendar, you’ll need eight of them, each cut into three pieces. You’ll also need some pretty Christmassy paper, and some sticky tape.


Last year, I found this fabulous wooden Christmas tree at Big W for $10. I haven’t really looked to see if they’re there this year. The coolest thing about them is that they come with 25 tiny decorations – 24 hanging decorations and a star. These are what I used in my calendar last year, and Mayana was keen to use them again! I put one in each tube, and the star goes in with the final decoration on Christmas Eve.


Next, it’s just a matter of wrapping each piece of cardboard tube in your Christmas paper, and popping in one decoration, and that day’s activity. Don’t forget to write a date on each tube!!


Now where to put them! On one of my walls in our family room I have a bunch of frames with various typography art in them. In the centre of them all is a frame I put together to hang photos in. I bought a huge old frame for about $3.00 from an op-shop – no glass or backing necessary – and tied four lengths of twine across the frame. Usually there are Instagram photos or cute cards or pictures hanging in it, but at this time of year it becomes our advent calendar. So it’s just a matter of clipping each little present into place, and the calendar is complete!



Cute huh! And so cheap to make. This year it really didn’t cost me anything, because I had the wrapping paper from last year and the frame was already up. Today we bought some small baubles from Big W (2 packs of 20 for $3.00 each), and as we take each little gift down, we will put a bauble up, so that we aren’t left with boring looking naked string hanging on our wall… this is, after all, one of our Christmas decorations!


Easy! And so cute!
Do you make your own advent calendar? What are you going to put in it this year?

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