How To Make a Reusable DIY Advent Calendar

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on November 28, 2012

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I don’t really consider myself a crafty person, but I feel like I unleashed my inner crafting goddess this past weekend! Even though I started to lose steam about 30 minutes into this project (my typical short attention span), I persisted on and ended up with a fun advent calendar that can be reused for many years to come.

Thanks to Bec from Little Lucy Lu for the tutorial and inspiration!

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Before I knew it I found myself at Michael’s and Home Depot on a Friday night. par-tay. It ended up being a lot of fun (except for the Home Depot part) and I was impressed with how easy it was to make (except for the frame building part which someone kindly took over).

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Eric, the exacting, meticulous planner, took the wood to the garage and later appeared with a frame so perfectly square it could be sold at the store. Later on when he was hanging the wire, I heard him say things like, “this needs to be mathematically correct” and “I think I am going to strip some thicker electrical wire because I don’t think this crafting wire will hold…” And he did. He stripped this awful, ugly thick wire and tried to convince me it would look good. Umm, no thank you, but I appreciate the thought. I insisted the regular crafting wire would hold my “super heavy” tea bags and not surprisingly it did, but that didn’t stop him from putting about 765 staples into the back of the frame and pulling the wire so tight I thought he was stringing a guitar. When he builds, he builds to last.

I, on the other hand, had numbers dropping like flies all night long because I forgot to glue them in place. Who knew the tacky backing wouldn’t hold? When I build, I build to last for 5 minutes apparently.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

– A large frame (2 feet by 3 feet) OR make your own frame. We used (two) 1 inch x 2 inch x 8 foot framing lumber boards. They cost about $1 each. OR try a large bulletin board and just pin everything on.

– spray paint, if desired. I used Tremclad flat green paint – found at Home Depot

– Florist wire (found at Michaels) or try regular string (Eric made three rows)

– Staple gun for securing wire/string

– 24-25 metal clips OR simply tie loops around the wire with twine/string/ribbon

– twine or string

– construction paper or scrapbooking paper (I purchased Martha Stewart holiday mat pad + 2 sheets of scrapbook paper)

– Stick on numbers (or make your own)

– glue stick + scissors

– treats, notes, activities to put inside!

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I LOVE this crafting paper by Martha. The sheets are the perfect size to fold in half and make pouches and it was 40% off to boot.

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To make a pouch:

– Fold/cut craft paper into desired size (I used above sheets which are 6.75 inches by 4.75 inches, but make them any size you wish)

– Hole punch holes on each side

– Place twine or string through holes and a big knot on one side (see below)

– Glue number on the front

– secure on calendar with clip (or simply tie with string)

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To make the Tags (see #2 above):

– Print off this tag template in your desired size

– Trace it onto desired craft paper & cut out

– Write desired activity on the back (such as “put up the Christmas tree” or “Christmas party at Jenn’s place”)

– Glue number/paper on front

– hole punch top & secure with string

We’re picking out our Christmas tree & decorating it on December 2nd, so I wrote that for #2.

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Ideas for pouch-stuffing:

– Your favourite tea

– homemade granola or trail mix

– Chocolate wrapped up in tin foil

– Candy, suckers, gum, mints, etc

– Write activities for you and your family to do together (I wrote down our Christmas parties, putting up the tree, baking days, etc)

– You could also use this calendar to stay healthy around the holidays by writing down daily fitness or health goals as motivation to stay on the right track. Don’t forget to balance it out with chocolate though!

– Any other ideas?

– I’m planning a surprise for Eric on the 25th tree, but I probably won’t write it until our last night in the house before Christmas.

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So there you have it, our first ever DIY Advent Calendar! Maybe some day a child of our own will be using this each year. If not, I’m sure Sketchie will like it filled with treats…or lens caps.

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Is it just me or is he building some major arm muscles?

Are you crafting anything this holiday season?

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table November 28, 2012 at 9:01 am

Such a beautiful calendar. I think you could easily be mistaken for a crafty person!

Sketchie has definitely been doing bicep curls on the side. ;)


Sylvia November 28, 2012 at 9:11 am

I have two little girls and thought I would make an advent calendar this year! Its activity based so each day we do something as opposed to getting a treat. I am SO not crafty but its kind of fun to put it all together! I have mine on the wall in the form of two Christmas trees made out of garland and then I just clipped decorated tags on them. Not the prettiest but it serves the purpose! The activities are so cute too… something as simple as calling Grandma and singing jingle bells… haha!

Thanks for sharing yours Im on an advent calendar kick right now!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2012 at 9:14 am

That sounds really cute!


Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) November 28, 2012 at 9:13 am

This looks like so much fun–I’ve seen a bunch of different ideas for DIY advents floating around over the last few days. I have to say, I’m a bit boring and bought those like $1 chocolate advents from Trader Joe’s, haha!

Also–side note–does that say vanilla nut “crepe” tea??!?


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2012 at 9:15 am

It’s vanilla nut creme decaf, but crepe would be good too I’m sure. hah. It’s really good with almond milk!


Amy November 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

I just discovered that vanilla nut creme decaf tea and I am obsessed with it!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

I am too…drink it every night lately!


Sarah November 28, 2012 at 9:20 am

This is so cute! I have a bag of miniature (I’ll appropriately call them “elf size”) clothespins I bought simply for their adorable factor. I’ve been waiting 2 years for a use for them, which is strange since I live for crafting. Thanks for the inspiration! :)


Sharla November 28, 2012 at 9:22 am

this is cute! i do not even pretend to be crafty – store bought all the way!!


Kelly November 28, 2012 at 9:24 am

Great idea!
We’re going to attempt to make our Christmas tree this year. I love a real tree as much as anyone, but for various reasons (small Parisian appartment, cat who will attack and eat any green thing…) we thought a homemade tree made out of real branches might work better this year.


Mai-Lis @ A Sunshiny Day November 28, 2012 at 9:27 am

Oh my goodness, this is SO cute! You’ve inspired me now, I want to make one!


Anele @ Success Along the Weigh November 28, 2012 at 9:28 am

I love this advent calendar. My hubby grew up with the candy a day calendars (until he had to be heimliched (sp?) for skipping ahead a day! It’s okay, laugh, we do) and I grew up with the regular paper ones. This might be a fun way to kind of incorporate both. I could write the Christmas story on the inside and he’d have a prize for the day!

I’m a crafting fool this year! If you want to swing by and see the sheet music flowers I did yesterday you can see my latest obsession. :-)


Sarah L. November 28, 2012 at 9:30 am

Very cute! We still get those cardboard advent calendars with the cheap chocolate on the inside – some childhood traditions never die. :)


Natalie November 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

Cute! I get frustrated appx 2 minutes into crafts – not my thing at all! Love this though!


Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) November 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

This is so cute – love it!


Allison November 28, 2012 at 10:05 am

HAH Sketchie looks totally jacked in that picture! What a cutie :)

That’s such a great idea! I love the mix of treats, activities and healthy options too.


Eating 4 Balance November 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

This idea is so cute. I love it!


Lena November 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

It’s my first Christmas with two kitters in a place that has actual Christmas trees… i’m scared. The look on Sketchie’s face in the first picture makes me even more nervous!

I’m not as crafty as you (I bought an advent calendar at Trader Joe’s, and that was because it had chocolate in it), but I did glue some holiday ribbons onto headbands. I’m doing a couple of holiday races, and I wanted to wear something festive for them :)


[email protected] SavyNaturalista November 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

I never heard of an advent calender my sister would love this me and her or exchanging handmade gifts this year;so it would be nice to give her the calender and put little mini presents in the pouch for her she would be so excited..


Tanya @ playful and hungry November 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

your calendar is so cute! I am trying to make one for my boyfriend… but it’s not nearly as pretty! ;)


[email protected] The Frosted Vegan November 28, 2012 at 11:44 am

I just saw this tutorial on Pinterest and it is so cute! It’s good to know it is do-able!


Stephanie @ Legally Blinde November 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Oh wow, Angela, this is so cute!! You did SUCH a great job! I Love the idea of writing fitness and health goals down, too. Very clever!


Averie @ Averie Cooks November 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Angela this is so fun and creative and love that it’s reusable, DIY, crafty, and just so pretty!


Christa @ Edible Balance November 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Good heavens, I just do not have the patience to do these gorgeous DIY projects! I love the idea of it, but to implement? I just won’t do it… so sad. I’d most certainly buy it though :) And my husband? So not a handyman… like me, he’d just pay someone to do it, or get one of our dads, haha


allison November 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

a fun activity with the kids is “elfing” people. We take some candies or chocolates or baking and run up to the house ring the bell leave the treats at the door and run like heck to the waiting vehicle :0) we usually do that one night and then go to DQ, get a treat and pick a name from the angels anonymous tree to shop for kids who don’t have presents.


Emma November 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

This is beautiful Angela! It’s not going to happen this year but I’m saving it away for next year. Love your ideas for filling the pouches and writing Christmas activities and goals on each number.


Lia November 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm

That’s really cute. I love the idea, and it must look great in your home! It just gave me a great idea for my boyfriend’s team! He’s a team leader for Americorps (sorta like peace corps in the US), and I volunteered to be a team guardian, meaning I send inspirational things to the group to keep moral up. Something like this would be perfect! Thanks!


Michelle November 28, 2012 at 6:27 pm

That’s so cute Angela! I will have to get working on mine. Christmas is slowly creeping up on us now isn’t it?


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat November 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm

This is so cute Ange!! I can easily see how this became an Eric project hehe! Leave the mathematical correctness to him because you certainly do an awesome job on the artsy part! Great call on that Stash Vanilla Nut Creme tea. That one is by far my favourite and I’d be content with an advent calendar full of that alone! I don’t have any crafts on my agenda for this Christmas, but I think that’s just because I’ve been too busy to get on Pinterest these days. You never know what the weekend might hold!


Mandi November 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm

This is a great idea! I might have to make a fitness one to “trick” myself into working out more during the Holiday season.


Catherine November 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

That calendar is too cute (I’ve never had an Advent calendar, not sure why). Like others have said, you could’ve fooled me into thinking you’re crafty! I have no patience for crafting; apart from a few paintings and a couple of wreaths (easy ones), I just can’t stick with a project.

By the way, I thought I’d share that your sinless sticky toffee pecan pudding was a huge hit at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody loved it and said I had to make it again! Thanks for the great recipes.


Lea @ Greens and Coffee Beans November 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Such a cool idea! I love that you can customize the days and what goes in each pouch!


Lindsay November 29, 2012 at 1:10 am

I love it, Angela! My hubby is alot like Eric, in that 1.) he talks to himself, 2.) takes over some of my projects that i can’t figure out, and 3.) builds stuff to last 100 years. :)


Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers November 29, 2012 at 9:43 am

Cute idea!! I buy an advent calendar every year for my 20 year old step-daughter!


Amber from Slim Pickin's Kitchen November 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

Bwahahahaaa!!! This post had my laughing hysterically! I am so totally with you when it comes to all things crafts! I have such high expectations and set goals and then I see something shiny and said project is forgotten about until next year…and the supplies may or may not sit in the same exact spot collecting dust for weeks. Don’t judge ;)


Natalie Michael November 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm

That is awesome and your post cracked me up! You are such a hilarious and entertaining writer. This one was definitely one of your funnier posts. Thanks for doing what you do.

Also, that hazelnut drink was AMMMMMMMMMMAZING. Heaven in a glass.


Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit November 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Love this craft and the ideas for what to stuff the cute little pouches with. I think of myself as a wannabe crafty person. My crafts never seem to turn out quite like they look in the pictures, though. Lol. My wannabe crafter especially starts to surface around the holidays! Though this year I’m in the midst of a move, so it doesn’t look like I’ll be doing anything too crafty this season. I’m thinking that my inner crafter’s going to come back with a vengeance next Christmas, though. ;)


char eats greens November 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Oh Angela, I love this idea!!! And love Eric for his determination and dedication!! I think my advent calendar would probably stop at day 3 or something low like that. Who thought new babies would take over your life?! :P


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 30, 2012 at 10:34 am

haha I can only imagine how busy you’ve been! Hope all is well :)


Emily @ November 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm

AWESOME!!! I love this idea! Such an amazing idea-I must do this and I like that your treats are better than the traditional icky chocolate! My husband is exactly the same-he MUST be precise! : )


Radhika Sarohia November 30, 2012 at 4:54 am

How fun!!
I wish I had the energy for DIY projects like this–after work I can barely make myself cook healthy vegan dinner, let alone take up arts and crafts. Your calender looks lovely :-D


Liz November 30, 2012 at 11:26 am

That is a great way to recycle wrapping paper. I love the cat pictures. Cats are so amazing and cute. :)


Shauna November 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

This looks awesome! I just finished making my (oh-so student budget chic) advent calendar. So much fun to see what everyone is doing this December!


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

love it!


Sis December 1, 2012 at 1:25 am

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL KITTY! : ) The calendar idea is cute, too. I have the tiny clothespins that I would use. I’m seeing many possibilities but … we are not obedient children. We would see what was in one and if it wasn’t to our liking at the moment, we would pick another until we got what we wanted! Kind of ruins the whole idea, eh? : \ But I think I could find a use for such an adorable idea. Thanks for sharing.


fairtrade89 December 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

At first, I thought they were Christmas cards. I suppose I could reuse the stack I receive every year in place of scrap-booking paper for a super thrifty advent calendar.


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 2, 2012 at 10:39 pm

good idea!


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