This is a Guest Post by the super amazing One Hundred Dollars a Month reader Mel.
I’ve always loved Advent calendars.
I don’t know whether it’s the visual countdown aspect or making every day a leading up to Christmas a bit more special, but I’ve always had a thing for them.
As a kid, we had the paper kind with chocolate in them, but we also had a fabric tree with an ornament to hang each day.
As an adult, I still use the fabric tree one, and I also made one with a different Christmas comic to open each day (totally reusable since after a year you forget the comics), but I kind of missed the paper kind with the little doors and chocolate behind them, and I wanted our son to have one that was just for him.
At the same time, I didn’t want to just buy him the paper kind year after year, and I also didn’t necessarily want it to be filled with chocolate every day so I set out to make my own wooden one for him last year.
Here are the materials I used:
- Unfinished wooden advent calendar
- Wooden Numbers (I needed two packs)
- Christmas Stencils
- Acrylic Paint (I like DecoArt’s Patio Paint)
- Painters Tape
- Fine detail paint brushes
- Foam brushes
I’m crafty in a number of ways, but woodworking is not my thing, so I decided to buy a wooden advent calendar and then decorate it to personalize it a bit more.
There are so many wooden ones available, but I wanted one that had drawers, was sturdy (there are a lot of really intricately carved ones out there that I was certain I’d damage in storage or have a hard time decorating), and had the ability to hold different sized objects.
I found what I was looking for in Hyggehaus. That company makes several already decorated advent calendars, but they also have plain wood or white ones you can decorate yourself (they even have a contest!), so I went with the white one which matches our house a bit better than plain wood.
Even though mine came pre-painted, I did give the unpainted drawer edges a light sand before getting started.
I started by painting all the drawer pulls green. I put painter’s tape around the base of each pull and gave each one two coats of green paint. I painted the numbers red and decided which drawers they’d all go on.
The numbers were fairly large, so it did take a little bit of planning both in terms of the drawer sizes (smaller drawers can’t handle double digits as easily) and the stencils to get a balanced look.
Once I figured out which drawers were getting which numbers, I glued the numbers on with tacky glue. Then I set out to work on the designs.
For the top edge, I wanted a single larger design. For the drawers, I decided I wanted to repeat miniature designs in two shades of green and one of red so that similar-sized drawers had similar sized designs.
I thought the repetition would make everything look more cohesive—almost like a Christmas sweater design. I can draw well, but my plan for repeating designs on the drawers (not to mention the odd angles and tiny surfaces) made me opt for stencils instead of free-handing the designs.
I had to cut a few of the stencils into smaller pieces so I could get the designs I wanted flush on the drawers.
I used painter’s tape to hold the larger stencil in place on the top edge, but I just held the smaller ones in place to trace the designs on in pencil. Once they were traced, I went over them a couple times in paint using small detail paint brushes.
Finally, I used a foam brush to seal everything with a couple coats of Verathane.
I love that the different-sized drawers allow greater flexibility in choosing how to fill the calendar. The obvious answer is still edibles like candy (and if you have multiple kids, there’s even room to include multiple pieces!), but here are some other ideas for kids young and old:
- Small games or Lego sets
- Cards with activities on them (e.g., bake cookies, go pick out a Christmas tree, drive around to look at lights, etc.)
- Art or craft supplies
- Small toys or accessories for toys (e.g., fidget spinners, American Girl doll shoes, Hot
- Wheels, dollhouse furniture)
- Tickets to an event
- Homemade coupons (e.g., for more screen time)
- Ornaments or other small decorations
- Hot chocolate packets
- Small tools (e.g., mini flashlight, compass, etc.)
- Small books or magazines
- Gift Cards
- Clues to a scavenger hunt
- Office supplies (e.g., cute pens, paperclips, erasers, or mini notepads)
- Garden Supplies (e.g., Flower or Vegetable Seeds, garden markers, etc.)
- Cold weather gear (e.g., fuzzy socks, gloves, or ear warmers)
- Technology (e.g., ear pods, screen cleaners, or chargers)
- Toiletries (e.g., bubble bath, face masks, lotion, lip balm, nail polish, etc.)
- Mini Puzzles
- Cooking or Baking Supplies (e.g., cookie cutters, sprinkles, mini spatula, measuring spoons, spices, cupcake liners)
- Accessories (e.g., sunglasses, hair ties, cufflinks, ties, keychains)
- Glow sticks
- Hobby supplies (e.g., model train accessories)
- Food items (mini jams or jellies, mini bottles of syrup or hot sauce, mini boxes of cereal etc.) or potatoes (if you’re Mavis and you occasionally find yourself with 100 lbs. of them lying around)
Our son won’t be using this for a few years as he’s only four months old, but I love that I have it ready to go for when he’s older.
It gave me the idea to use his first Christmases to sort out what traditions we want to do with him later, so I’ll also be getting him a stocking this year, his first ornament (he insisted I eat a LOT of Cheerios while I was pregnant, so I got him a Cheerios mouse ornament), and I’m debating making my own version of Elf on the Shelf.
But I think the Advent Calendar is going to be my favorite.
More Guest Posts By Mel