17 Advent calendars to ring in the festive season

By admin
08 November 2013

Heighten the excitement of the days leading up to Christmas with a handmade Advent calendar this year. Our blogger found these festive ideas on Pinterest this week.

Joy to the world! We’re counting down to Christmas, that holy day on the Christian calendar that celebrates the birth of Jesus and His message of hope, peace and love. The day, and the period leading up to it, comes with so many beautiful traditions, both church-inspired and personal. I love the tradition of Advent calendars – a special way to count down the 24 days to this glorious holiday.

A selection of advent calendars

Joy to the world! We’re counting down to Christmas, that holy day on the Christian calendar that celebrates the birth of Jesus and His message of hope, peace and love. The day, and the period leading up to it, comes with so many beautiful traditions, both church-inspired and personal. I love the tradition of Advent calendars – a special way to count down the 24 days to this glorious holiday.

Alfie and her brother Herman

We didn’t have Advent calendars at home when my brother, Herman, and I were growing up (that’s us in the picture) but when my daughter was little I found it a special way to share the Christmas story with her as she tucked into the treat hidden behind each number. She took to the idea with fervour, and memories of her growing excitement are some of my most treasured moments from her childhood.

Many commercially available calendars come with sweets but if you make your own calendar you can fill it with many other things to add personal meaning (see my list at the end). Here are some calendar ideas to inspire you. Older kids might even like helping you to make them. I hope you enjoy the anticipation with your family.

Elves’ socks

Pictures pinned from indulgy,com (left) and etsy.com

These mini stockings are adorable. The ones on the left are kiddies’ socks attached with mini pegs to a length of sturdy ribbon. The cuties on the right are made from scraps of cotton fabric and hessian, decorated with oddments of lace, ribbons, bows and buttons, then pinned to a padded wall hanging decorated with twine.

Bags of fun

Pictures pinned from Carrie Thomas (left) and printyourparty.com

Using plain brown bags or cheerful coloured ones are particularly practical if you’re packaging treats for more than one person. Write the numbers on the packets or, as here, put them on a chalkboard or the pegs.

Picture pinned from visualheart.wordpress.com

Talking about pegs, Cape Town-born blogger Nicole, who now lives in Vancouver, Canada, decorated these wooden pegs with acrylic paints, then glued them to the backing of a frame to create a reusable Advent calendar. Find more pictures of her project here.

Craft fun for the kids

Pictures pinned from 2jacs.blogspot.com (left) and Little Ninny

Here’s a weekend project to keep kids entertained. Get them to stamp or paint newsprint or brown paper then roll into cones. Add numbers and string them up. You can add the contents (see ideas at the end) when they’re not looking so you don’t spoil the surprise.

Perfect match

Matchboxes are great little containers for Advent calendar surprises. Here are two variations on the theme.

Picture pinned from lookiewhatidid.blogspot.ca

The humble matchbox goes superglam in this project. Copy the look with scrapbook paper, bits of trimmings and lace, buckles and bows plus various designs for the numbers.

Picture pinned from thriftycraftygirl.com

Eight rows of three boxes each add up neatly to 24 days of Advent. Find the instructions for making this compact calendar here.

Just my type

Picture pinned from theeclecticlife.wordpress.com

Being in the print industry I’m a sucker for typefaces. So these little boxes with their creative use of fonts and backgrounds really appeal.

Tray chic

Picture pinned from applepielovefordetails.blogspot.com

This vintage printer’s tray lends itself well to the Advent calendar idea with its readymade nooks for whatever you choose to use to count down the days (see ideas below).

For the material girl (and boy)

After buying commercial Advent calendars for several years I eventually found a gorgeous one made from felt which I refilled with my personal choice of treasures each year. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, take inspiration from these fabric creations with refillable pockets.

Picture pinned from crateandbarrel.com

This bright wall hanging was made from bold fabrics by Finnish design company Marimekko. You could make something equally fabulous from the wide range of shweshwe fabrics available in blues and reds.

Picture pinned from indulgy.com

Appliqué, embroidery and buttons brighten up these cheerful pockets.

Picture pinned from notonthehighstreet.com

Bunting is big in kids’ décor – and how clever to use it as inspiration for an Advent calendar. I love the variety of red prints used for the pretty pockets on the plain background.

Picture pinned from julegleder.blogspot.com

This wall hanging spells Christmas loud and clear. Red felt pockets are trimmed with blanket stitching and the red embroidery adds festive cheer. Nice touch to have a guiding star (add Velcro to the back) to mark the passing days.

O Christmas tree

Picture pinned from pinksuedeshoe.com

This one has been around for a while but I love the cone trees with their treasures tucked away inside. Find the instructions and templates here.

Fillers for Advent calendars

Having a sweet tooth, I’m the last person to knock the idea of chocolates in Advent calendars. But there’s so much more you can do. Here are some ideas – combine several to increase the element of surprise.

Eats:

Packets of mini biscuits

Little packets of dried fruit, trail mix or nuts

Marshmallow mice, lollies, mini packets of jelly sweets

Obviously chocolates – but beware of the South African heat! Keep the calendar in a cool place if you’re using chocs, or keep them chilled then add them just before the day’s reveal. Multipacks of mini chocolate bars work well.

Food for thought:

Type out short sections of the Christmas story and read them to your kids over the 24 days.

Ditto with verses or inspiring quotes from famous people.

Handwrite little cards with “Reasons I love you”.

Fun and games:

Party favours are perfect – add extras on days your kids have play dates so everybody can share in the fun

One or two small, inexpensive toys

Crayons, rubber stamps, novelty pens

Colouring-in pictures and puzzles downloaded from the internet and printed

Plan a surprise outing over a weekend and announce it in the calendar

Handmade vouchers for special treats such as an ice cream the next time you’re at the mall, an extra turn on the iPad, a Saturday morning with dad or whatever else will light up your kids’ eyes.

Decorate with topping of your choice

Leave a treasure hunt clue in the calendar for older kids to find their surprise

Picture pinned from godegrunner.blogspot.com

Wrapped gifts, bagged treats and rolled-up papers with messages are tied to this stick-mounted Advent calendar. Would love to know what’s inside them all!

 – Alfie Steyn

Find Love!

Men
Women