26 Nov, 2007
Easy DIY advent calendar: 25 small folded paper envelopes
[edited to add: thinking of making your own advent calendar? Consider playing along with me here]
We get a chocolate-filled advent calendar every year. I have a soft spot for chocolate advent calendars. Do you know that the chocolate advent calendar is the reason for the ring on my finger? I’m not sure if I ever wrote about that… hmm. Perhaps this is a post for another day. ;)
This year my mom gave us two chocolate advent calendars, so the girls are totally set up in that department.
But I also knew I wanted to make my own advent calendar, filled with family stuff rather than sweet stuff. There are a lot of good ideas out there but I wasn’t able to find The Perfect One for Me. And I was overwhelmed by the type I really wanted to make.
Check out this matchbox advent calendar. Amazing huh? Alas, at the time I was planning this all out I was stuck at home with no way of obtaining the requisite number of matchboxes. I then tried making my own origami matchbox/slide box, but they wouldn’t have been nearly as stable as the version that used authentic matchboxes. And then there was the issue of the time it would take to fold my own… it would have taken me weeks.
Other ideas I was kicking around:
Ones with with felt pockets like the one shown here.
And then there’s this one … slightly different and v.v.cute.
There’s the cookie sheet advent calendar (cute, I guess, but I can’t get past the cookie sheet thing…) Oh, and speaking of magnets, there’s this one, that can be affixed to a magnet board. Gorgeous huh?
Anyway, there are a lot of great ideas out there. (If you start googling you will be sucked into a vortex you might not be able to get out of, so consider yourself warned.) But I was considering an idea posted on the now-defunct Kiddley. What could be simpler than paper envelopes? This was something I could manage.
So here is my paper-envelope advent calendar in its full glory:
And here are the family activities I filled ours with:
1. Make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows (done!)
2. Buy a gift for a family in need via World Vision (done!)
3. Paint everyone’s toenails (done!)
4. Buy a toy and bring it to Toy Mountain (done!)
5. Pick some puppets and mum will make up a bedtime story (Mark did it instead of me, hee hee)
6. Pick out a really nice Christmas tree (but don’t squish any elves that may be hiding in the branches!) (done!)
7. Decorate the tree and drink eggnog (done!)
8. Go tobogganing Go to Upper Canada Village to see Alight at Night (last minute swap)
9. It’s family game night! (a day of playing on the Wii. I think my eyeballs are dead.)
10. Make a paper chain for the tree (done!)
11. Dance and sing to Christmas music (done!)
12. Candlelit bubble bath (done!)
13. Make Christmas cards for family and friends (mostly done!)
14. Is the sky clear? Get out the telescope for some star gazing, if not, go for a nighttime walk with your lanterns. (done)
15. Let’s go ice skating today! (postponed due to frigid temperatures, we’re baking cookies instead)
16. Bake a batch of Christmas cookies. (done)
17. Bake another batch of Christmas cookies and share with neighbors. (done)
18. Fancy dress for dinnertime (Done… This one is a keeper. So fun!)
19. Make a list of ten things you are thankful for. Hang it where you can see it every day. (Done… will scan.)
20. Make and hang edible gifts for the birds and squirrels. (Postponed until the afternoon of the 21st … it was replaced by last-minute Christmas shopping!)
21. Watch a Christmas movie in the fold out bed!
22. Breakfast in bed!
23. Check out the Christmas lights downtown. Don’t forget the hot chocolate!
24. Unwrap one present after dinner (mum and dad get to pick which one)
25. It’s Christmas Day. Remember you have a family who loves you. And that’s the most important gift of all.
As you can see, it’s one activity per day. Many of these are things that we’d be doing anyway, but at least this way they’re presented in a way that makes it more exciting. I sat down with a regular calendar and did some advance planning, mostly so the ice skating fell on a Saturday etc etc.
If you’d like to make your own, this is what you need:
- papers. This is a bit of a personality test. Are you matchy or non-matchy? Some people will want their envelopes to colour coordinate with their decor. Me: I didn’t really care. I just raided my paper stash. I used a variety of Christmas wrapping paper, handmade papers, pages from old books (including a hymn book and Chinese textbook), magazines, and origami and scrapbooking papers. A slightly heavier weight (or stock) works better than the thinner stuff.
- an envelope template (click image to enlarge).I found one online and shrunk it down in Photoshop because I wanted my envelopes to be small. My finished envelopes are 2 3/4″ wide and 2″ high. Do yourself a favour and print the template onto cardstock, and use this to trace the envelope shape onto your paper.
- string/ribbon and small clothespegs (I bought mine at the dollar store)
The rest is easy. Trace the shape, cut it out, fold along the lines, and glue the edges. Add a number to the front of each envelope. I used a font called Chinese Takeaway for mine. If you want to use the same, I’ve made a PDF (numbers only) that you can download here.
Put the envelopes under a heavy book to dry overnight, write up your own activities and tuck them inside, string everything up, and you’re done! Easy huh?
p.s. If you happen to make this project please let me know. I’d love to see how it turned out for you!