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DIY Advent Calendar

Growing up, my wonderful mother always made a big deal out of Christmas. She would deck out the house with Christmas goodies – the tree (of course), wreaths, ribbons, Christmas puzzles, lights, window displays, yard ornaments (classy ones), her darling porcelain holiday village, sweet treats, candles, advent calendars, and more.

Since this is my first Christmas as a married lady, my husband and I (but mostly me!) have been talking about how excited we are to carry on traditions from each of our families and to start new ones of our own!

Thinking back to when I was a little girl during the Christmas season, I had two favorite things. The first thing I looked forward to was getting up each morning with my big sister, and the two of us would move the star on our advent calendar to the next day – counting down the days until Christmas! Even though I had to switch off days with my sis, we both got so excited about it when we were little! The other thing I maybe didn’t love as much when it was happening, but I look back now and think about how precious this time was (that’s why I call it one of my favorites now), was every Sunday night in the month of December, my family would sit together, and we would read some kind of story (it would change year to year) that was an adaptation of the birth of Christ, and always had a new and beautiful perspective on the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. Looking back at these times makes me love my mom for doing what she did, and for teaching us that Christmas wasn’t all about the presents.

When thinking about these two childhood joys, I wanted to figure out a way to combine the two and bring them into my adult life.

I thought, “What could I make that my (future) children look forward to each day during the Christmas season that doesn’t get old from year to yea,r but also could be used now while it’s still just Landson and me?” With a lot of thought, I eventually figured it out.

Many advent calendars have little treats of some sort hidden inside – candy, gifts, etc. I have seen many more extravagant ones, but the one I had growing up was extremely simple, and we didn’t even get a treat! We just got to pin a star on the next day. Since that made me happy as a child, I’m leaving the candy out of this one.

Instead of making an advent calendar that is simply made up of  numbers, I wanted to add in an aspect of action. Advent is 24 days (December 1st – Christmas eve). To make my advent calendar all I needed was a few simple items. Here’s how you can make the calendar:

1. Go to your local Joann’s, Michaels, or Hobby Lobby and pick up these items (the more festive you want your envelopes to look, the better!)

Here are the basic materials you need, but don’t hesitate to get glitter, decorative ribbons, and whatever else catches your eye while you’re there!

  • Envelopes (24 – one for each day)
  • Paint
  • Embellishments – anything and everything (optional!)

2. Number your envelopes!

You can paint them, buy cute stickers, cut out numbers from magazines, have your kids paint them, whatever you want! Just number them 1 – 24 for each day of advent.

3. Embellish your envelopes!

This is optional, but be creative and feel free to make each one different! Many advent calendars will have a different image on each thing you unfold. A different picture that reminds you of Christmas. Maybe you have certain family traditions you ALWAYS do on December 1st? Or December 24th? Maybe your images could reflect that. Or if you have children, maybe you could put photos of them doing holiday activities through the years so they can look and see how they use to be when they were babies.

4. Put your treats inside the envelopes!

I told you I was skipping the candy, but you don’t have to! Go and find 24 treats you’d like to have for each day. Or maybe it’s a portion of a wonderful advent story that you and your family can read together, or an inspiring quote or poem. Rather than having treats and candy, I decided to write a challenge for each day of something I could do for my spouse (or if you have kids, you can write something down that they could do for each other that day during the holiday season.)

5. Hang your calendar!

I just hung mine in a grid on the wall. I used sticky tack to make the envelopes stick to the wall because I didn’t want to poke a bunch of holes.

Other fun ways of hanging it would be to get a longer strand of yarn and clothespin the envelopes to the yarn in numerical order and hang it over the mantle. (If I had a mantle, I would probably do this.) You could even hang them on your tree as ornaments! You may not even want to hang them, but find a cute container to put them in and you can flip through. The possibilities are endless!

Here are a few of the “treats” I put in my envelopes:

  • Make homemade hot chocolate today!
  • Sit together as a family and read the “Tale of Three Trees” (my favorite Christmas book as a child).
  • MAKE a Christmas gift for someone in your family, wrap it up and put it under the tree.
  • Bake Cookies!
  • Clean out your closet and donate your clothes to people in need.
  • Find a new way to tell your spouse you admire and love them.

While this advent calendar may seem untraditional and time consuming, I don’t want the holidays to fly by in a blur of shopping and traffic jams. I want to take the time to enjoy this time with my new husband, and when we have kids, to spend time teaching them what Christmas is truly about.

This DIY advent calendar is something the whole family can enjoy! Brainstorm with your family to figure out what fits best for each days, and maybe just throw some candy in some days if you’re having a busy holiday season.

This way, next year some of your envelopes can be filled with fresh ideas to replace those that maybe didn’t go over as well as you could have hoped, and perhaps others will inspire a new holiday tradition your kids bring into their families one day.