There’s still just enough time to whip up an Advent calendar to (a) celebrate the period of Advent and/or (b) teach patience to the young’uns (or anyone else in the family who’s panting for Santa) in the countdown to Christmas.
Here, then, are three crafty ideas for Advent calendars that are fast and easy (and cheap!) to make yourself. These creative projects are also a great source of inspiration for dreaming up your own special style of Advent calendar to become a family tradition.
Matchbox Garland Advent Calendar
This brilliant idea came from ARTchix Studio‘s Lisa Cook and Denise Lombardozzi, who were inspired by Belinda Schneider to decorate 24 match boxes with nostalgic Victorian style images, then hang them from a swag of thick rick-rack.
Instead of matchboxes, you could use empty pill bottles — I usually keep them for storing seeds that I’ve harvested from my flower garden — or tiny boxes for party favors or any other kind of small container that you might have lying around. Then, of course, you hide a tiny gift or surprise in each container, for your family to open one each day of the Advent season.
Paper Chain Countdown to Christmas
When I was a rambunctious child blessed with a frugal and creative mother, we used to make a paper chain and hang it in the kitchen. What makes it an Advent Chain is that it’s made with twenty-four numbered links.
With great glee, every December morning before breakfast, my sister and I would tear off one of the links. The shorter the chain got, the closer we knew we were getting to Christmas. Now that I think about it, this was a particularly effective way for our mother to help us count down to Christmas before we were actually old enough to count!
Activity Village (UK) has printable templates you can use but we always just used of strips of giftwrap, coloured construction paper, comic pages from the weekend newspaper, or pages from the Christmas catalogue. Sometimes, I remember, we made the strips from plain typing paper and decorated them with crayons and stickers.
Family Activities Advent Calendar
One thing I really like about this next idea is that it encourages an amount of family togetherness.
Looblylu put together a box of “very rough and ready envelopes with an evening activity written on the inside of each one and sealed with an old yellowing sticker on which I wrote the date” — ingenious, this Family Activities Advent Calendar, and as quick-and-easy to put together as an Advent calendar can get!
So, maybe we don’t all have a supply of gorgeous origami paper on hand, like Loobylu did, but I’ll bet you can find plenty of gift wrap that would do just as well.
No special box to hold the envelopes? No problem. Wrap an empty tissue box in gift-wrapping paper, perhaps. Or what about jumbling the envelopes (without dates written on them) into a fancy bag or basket, and taking turns each evening to draw out one envelope at random?
The activities written inside the envelopes wouldn’t have to be a big deal or take a lot of effort or expense, but they should be something that kids would enjoy (and that adults can take part in without rolling their eyes and looking at their watches every three minutes). A lively round of a favorite game, played together as a family? An extra bedtime story? Or maybe just a small treat like relaxing an everyday household rule, for just tonight only — like, say, “Eat dessert first!”