Easy homemade touches to remind your children of the beauty of Advent.
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Advent is a special time of hope and anticipation. But sometimes commercials and to-do lists threaten to bury that meaning. Keeping an Advent calendar can help you and your family focus on the wonder and generosity of the season instead of getting caught up in all the stresses. Together you can tick off the joyful days until an even more joyful occasion arrives — Christmas!
Many of the more elaborate Advent calendars in department stores and gift shops are gorgeous but expensive. And the ones you come across at the drugstore? They may be more economical, but many of them aren’t beautiful enough to keep in tone with the season. Others are simply too flimsy to last the ravages of your children’s excited hands. (Can you blame them? Some of them have chocolate in there!) So instead of buying an Advent calendar this year, consider making one. You’ll have a chance to personalize it as you wish, save some money to cover other holiday expenses or donate to charity, and maybe even create something sturdy enough to be reused next year.
1. Adorably adorned boxes
These teeny brown paper boxes are delightful inside and out. Helena Schaeder Söderberg of the blog CraftandCreativity decorated them with extra craft supplies like buttons, felt and markers, all in a red and white color scheme. Inside, the boxes can fit small treasures, like a chocolate or a quarter.
2. Reimagined toilet paper rolls
Steal this low-cost idea from Swiss craft blog Mama Skram. All you need is 24 empty toilet rolls (not hard to collect in a large household), some festive string, and stickers (or good handwriting).
3. Bitty bags of good will
Instead of chocolates to count down the days, consider giving your kids the gift of good will with this simple DIY advent calendar from Between You and Me blogger and ETSY craft wizard Tara Lowry. “I sat down with the kids and made a list of 25 acts of random kindness that we could use to serve others with this month,” she says. “It was so much fun coming up with really easy, doable ways to daily serve.” Then she put their great ideas in little paper bags and strung them up on a chalk board.
4. Paper Christmas lights
Making these Christmas light bulbs might sound familiar if you’ve ever made its paper craft summer cousin: the similar string of “chili peppers.” Each festive bulb contains a new advent treat. Just follow the simple instructions from craft blog The House That Lars Built. Want to take it one step further? You can write favorite Bible passages, prayers, or saint factoids inside the bags, along with each treat. Almost like a Christmas fortune cookie!
5. A cozy recycled house
Who knew empty toilet paper rolls could come in so handy around Christmas? This craft, from Decoholic covers the ends of each tube and stacks them like a little house for fun. The best part about this advent calendar is that it needs no embellishment: just a sweet humble home, counting down the days until December 25.
6. Rudolph rewards
Line up these red noses as a whimsical advent calendar for your kids. This craft from Craft and Creativity is so easy (and fun!) that they might even want to help you design the bags!
7. A fine felt tree
You can’t go wrong with an advent calendar shaped like a Christmas tree; it’s a classic. But we’ll be honest—this project won’t be a cinch to complete, unless you’ve got a knack for quilting (and even then, it will take time.) Andy of the quilting blog ABrightCorner.com says it took her about a month to complete. Of course, those with nimble fingers and enough hands-off time, say, this weekend, could possibly finish it much sooner. And if this calendar can’t happen this year, maybe you can add it to your list of summer projects and have it ready for next year.
8. Precious envelopes
Believe it or not, this Advent calendar is full of tea! What a brilliant idea from CraftAndCreativity.com: Each envelope contains a different type of tea for your child to enjoy. A hot cup of contemplation is the kind of Christmas treat that can easily be experienced as a family. Have your child open the calendar every day at breakfast or teatime (depending on the types of tea or your family’s schedule) and have a tin of biscuits ready for dunking as you chat. (For U.S. families, try different flavors of cocoa, accompanied by a tin of holiday cookies.)
9. A squeal-worthy matchbox
Itty-bitty things aren’t just for Santa’s elves. They’re for curious kids, too. Whether your kids are fans of The Indian in the Cupboard or The Borrowers, they’ll will love picturing themselves shrinking and entering the world of super-small things like this matchbox Advent calendar from Martha Stewart.
10. One branch and many brown bags
Bring a little nature into your home this December with a branch culled from one of your backyard adventures or forest hikes as the base for your Advent calendar. (Or maybe even a faux deer antler painted festive colors.) Label one brown paper bag for each day of the liturgical season in your cutest handwriting and string the bags onto the branch. Then hang it up and ta-da! Kudos to Babble for this forest fairy-inspired idea.
11. A muffin tin filled with surprises
Baking is often at the center of families’ Christmas fun. And why not? Eating yummy treats with your loved ones is always a treat. This muffin tin Advent calendar by Heartland Paper is perfect for a family who loves to gather in the kitchen. If you wrap them up just right, you might be able to put a couple of baked goods inside the calendar.
12. A mini pine forest
When you think of Santa’s Workshop, don’t you picture it nestled in a frosty forest? Delight your child with a pine forest all her own. This Advent calendar by Erin of Earnest Home Co. is a nice reminder that the beauty of Christmas really is for all living things, including plants!