I am ridiculously pleased with myself right now, so consider yourselves warned. I’ve finally created an advent calendar that I am completely delighted with, and it’s ready to roll for December 1.
I had done all the pining and pinning over advent calendars – in fact, you’ll find a rather overboard stock of advent calendar ideas mixed throughout my holiday idea board on Pinterest. I had been smitten with this particular one from the talented Anna at Most Lovely Things:
However, as much as I love this, it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted for our home. P.S. Here’s a link to Anna’s updated post and photos of some additional iterations of the calendar above at Most Lovely Things!
In recent years we’ve had several variations on advent calendars, ranging from simple and traditional German-style calendars with beautifully-illustrated woodland scenes and opening doors to a series of miniature drawers with tiny ornaments that my daughters hung daily on a miniature potted fir tree. These were fun, but nothing had the consistency and personal touch of the hanging felt Christmas tree with velcro ornaments that my sister and I grew up with and anticipated annually.
Today, however, I finally conceptualized the advent calendar for our home that I know I will enjoy and my girls will look forward to as well. Best of all, it went from idea to execution in a couple of hours with items I already had on hand (meaning total cost: nada!)
I started with a piece of scrap wood about 6′ long that I had grown fond of and dug out our Pack Rat (her name, not ours!) neighbor Peggy’s backyard collection about a year ago to use as a directional sign for my sister’s wedding. I liked its shape and character, though, and hadn’t been able to get rid of it – so it has been gathering dust in our garage (much to my husband’s delight). I spray painted it with a couple of coats of red and white paint because I want it to eventually be kind of chippy and peeling and not too uniform.
I gathered a bunch of supplies from our craft room including small brown paper bags, Martha Stewart + Avery metal rim tags from Staples, jingle bells in varying sizes, twine and other scraps. Of course, I only had 23 of the tags, so I had to come up with something creative for the Christmas Eve tag – which should stand out anyway, I reasoned. I used red Sharpies and a stencil to number the tags, and I tied them to a bunch of vintage round wooden clothes pins I scored at a local antique shop a few years ago – I had used them here and there but wanted a way to really display and enjoy them. I admit that I nabbed more than 50 of them for less than $5, but similar lots of vintage clothespins are available online and I’m sure there are good prices to be had if you’re patient.
Finally, I wrapped eight rows of twine around the wood to create hanging space for the bags – three across – and used my husband’s heavy duty staple gun to secure the twine on the back with his help – the wood was old and very solid, making it difficult to punch the staples in, so he had me pound them in with a mallet. Finally, I folded the tops of the bags over the twine and added the clothespins and a little sign at the top from Hobby Lobby a few years ago. I wanted to keep it super simple, and I think it’s perfect – I’m completely smitten!
Last but not least, I’m adding goodies to the bags such as German chocolates and coins for St. Nicholas Eve (December 5) – because I love learning about traditions such as Sinterklaas Day (Netherlands), St. Lucia Day (Sweden) and observing them with our own twist. Several of the envelopes will also include holiday activities, such as our traditional annual outing to see holiday lights in our PJs or viewings of our favorite holiday movies such as Elf, Love Actually, The Polar Express, Elf, Chocolat (also one of my top foodie flicks), White Christmas, Elf and It’s A Wonderful Life. And Elf.
I’m really pleased with it – let me know what you think and whether you have an advent calendar tradition or fond memories!