December is here! Which means advent calendars. Growing up as a first generation Canadian, advent calendars weren’t a big deal in my family, but I’ve always loved them. So I jumped at the chance to make one for our first Christmas together (on the same continent). Inside each day is a little chocolate along with a message, a favour we’ll do for the other written on a mail tag. We alternate days so he opens the odd days and I the even. The best part about this advent calendar? I used only materials I had already, including an old cardboard box that even folds for easy storage.
Want to make one of your own? Here’s what you’ll need:
- An old cardboard box with a fold in it (or create one yourself) at least 26×14.5
- Mail tags (or just recycled strips of paper or cardstock)
- Origami paper (or other brightly coloured paper for the envelopes)
- Ribbon and/or raffia
- White cardstock and various coloured cardstock
- Decorating items such as holiday scrapbook paper, holiday stickers, number stickers, buttons, jewels etc (use your imagination!)
- hot glue gun with glue
- glue stick
The first thing I did was measure, cut and fold the origami paper into envelopes. I used a mail tag as a guide for the size.
Place a mail tag on the paper with enough paper on the bottom to fold up. Make creases along the bottom by folding the paper up, then unfold. Fold the sides in and tape the back (no.1).
Fold in the corners on the bottom to the seam you made (no.2). Fold up the rest and tape (no. 3). Voila! Your envelope. Create 24 of these in an assortment of colours.
Numbers are next. I used a variety of number stickers I had, but you could write or print them out on card stock. If you are using number stickers, make sure you use a glue stick to stick them on for extra stickiness.
Place numbers on card stock and cut out (I cut after so they were all slightly different sizes). Cut a backing accent paper (I used glitter cardstock) slightly larger than the numbered cardstock. Hot glue the numbered cardstock in the centre. Do not glue these to the envelopes just yet!
Decorate! The fun part! Use a variety of materials around the house. Even the most mundane things, like a spool of thread (day no. 18) can personalize your advent calendar and make it look fantastic. Use either a glue stick or hot glue gun (which I recommend for larger items) to decorate your envelopes. After decorating each envelope hot glue your numbered cardstock on the envelope.
Hot glue your envelopes onto the cardboard, making sure you’re placing them in straight lines and equidistant from each other. I placed all my envelopes exactly where I wanted first so I could see the overall look, then hot glued each one.
Pull ribbon through the mail tag hole (I alternated between green and pink to keep track of whose mail tag is whose) and write a sweet message/favour. Stick one each in an envelope along with a little treat. To hang, I had flaps I could tie raffia around, but you could punch holes in the top and thread through either raffia, ribbon or yarn.
There you have it! Your advent calendar.
- If you only have brown cardboard, paint it white first. Alternatively, keep it brown and use more earthy natural colours for your envelopes
- If you have a cricut or circle punch, use those for the numbered cardstock
- Instead of scrapbooking materials, decorate your envelopes with things found in nature, such as dried plants, a small pinecone, a twig, raffia etc
- Instead of a number, use a picture of either of you (alternating) at that age at Christmastime. Example: Day 1, my fiance at age 1. Day 2, me at age 2, and so on.
- For a more durable calendar, use fabric instead of origami paper. Using a variety of patterns and fabric textures may be enough to decorate the envelopes. Follow the same envelope procedures but sew or hot glue the folds.
If you want more inspiration on advent calendars, check out my ‘Tis The Season’ folder on Pinterest