December is fast approaching and the countdown to Christmas is on! There’s no better way to countdown to the big day than an Advent calendar.. and what’s even better is a DIY Advent calendar filled with totally customizable goodies. We’ve always purchased the little cardboard Advent calendars with a small piece of chocolate behind each flap. But this year I finally tackled a project I’ve been wanting to do for years. This DIY Advent calendar is quick and easy and the kiddos in your life will love it!
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Supplies for a DIY Advent Calendar
- large empty frame (this one comes with almost everything you need)
- twine or ribbon
- small muslin bags (24)
- craft paint or iron on numbers
- number stencils (if using paint)
- iron (if using iron on numbers)
- hot glue gun
- mini clothespins (24)
- goodies to fill each bag
Make Your DIY Advent Calendar
First, you need an empty frame. I was lucky enough to have my husband build one with some extra wood we had in the garage. If making one isn’t an option for you, you can order a kit (like this one), or search your local Goodwill for one that can be painted to match your style. Mine is 24″ x 36″ and is the perfect size for 5 rows of bags.
Next, number your bags 1-24. Some people do a 25th bag, but I think waking up Christmas morning to presents under the tree is way more exciting for kids, so our last bag will be opened Christmas Eve. (I cut out a cute little tree to mark the spot for Christmas.) I used my Silhouette Cameo to create a freezer paper stencil for each number. (tutorial for freezer paper stencils- here) After I ironed each stencil on, I used a foam brush to apply the paint. Place a small piece of paper or cardboard into each bag so your paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side. An index card is perfect for this! Don’t overfill your brush and use a dabbing motion to prevent any bleeding under the stencil.
If you’re using iron on numbers, just follow the instructions on the package.
Once your bags are numbered, you’ll need to attach your twine or ribbon to your frame. I used hot glue for this
since I love burning off my fingerprints so I can easily peel it off and change out my string if I want a new look next year. I laid everything out on my table to see how it would look. (I’m totally a visual person) I played with the spacing until it was just right. Each strand of twine is 5.5″ apart. Depending on your bag and frame sizes, you might need more or less room between them. Hot glue each end of twine to the back of your frame, making sure to pull tight. I held the twine in place while the hot glue dried to prevent any sagging. Frame complete!
Fill Your Bags
Now all you have to do is fill each bag with goodies, and attach them to your frame with mini clothespins. Your DIY Advent calendar is ready for a Christmas countdown!
I’m keeping my bag items super simple this year (Hershey Kisses for the win!) but here are some super fun ideas your kids might enjoy:
- Rudolf nose
- Christmas themed mini erasers
- mini coloring book
- mini Play-Doh
- cookie cutters
- candy (always a hit)
- scavenger hunt clue (make it lead to a fun small gift at the end)
- Christmas poems
- movie tickets
- family coupons (good for one.. Christmas movie night, hot cocoa date, dessert before dinner, etc.)
- small ornaments
- Christmas PJs (include a note saying where they are)
The possibilities are endless! I’ll be able to spend more time filling the bags with really fun treats next year since my calendar is already made. I’m excited to start this tradition with my kids and I can’t wait to use this DIY Advent calendar for years to come!
Does your family have an Advent calendar? What kinds of fun things do you fill it with? Let me know in the comments! I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!