December DIY: Creating Your Own Advent Calendar

Caroline Wilking, Co-Editor

Are you bored of the store-bought cardboard Advent calendars? Tired of the same mediocre chocolate for 25 days straight? Wishing you could feel the delight of unwrapping a Christmas gift every day? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it may be time for you to make your own Advent calendar. These personalized countdowns can make fantastic gifts for family and friends or be fun ways to treat yourself this season — after all, you know better than anyone what Christmas presents you’d like to receive. With so many ways to design these calendars, this craft can be simple or complex enough for any level artist.

Step 1: Form the Base

A cohesive Advent calendar requires a system of organization. There are many ways to do this, but start by choosing what containers you will use to hold your Advent gifts. These could be mini stockings, take-out boxes, cloth drawstring bags, envelopes, mason jars, a shoe organizer, or anything you can think of. Choose your containers based on the size and shade you need for what you plan on putting in them and where you plan on displaying your calendar.

The containers you choose for your Advent calendar will also affect how you can display it. Lighter containers, such as envelopes and paper bags, can be easily pinned to corkboards or taped to poster boards. Heavier containers, such as small buckets or boxes, may need more support or simply to be stacked on a table as opposed to hung on a wall.

Step 2: Decorate

Decorating your Advent calendar is the perfect time to let your creativity shine. Label your containers with numbers, either hand-drawn or stickers, and then add anything your heart desires. Consider choosing a color scheme like the traditional red and green, the snowy blue and white, or the classic purple-purple-pink-purple of Advent. Decorate with colored and patterned paper, markers, glitter, stickers, paint, ribbon, bows, and any other materials you have lying around your house.

Tip: Decorating your containers before piecing them together makes the process much easier.

Step 3: Fill

It’s time to fill your Advent calendar with all of your favorite goodies. What you put in your Advent calendar is limited only by size, but if you aren’t sure what to add, here are some ideas:

For the Food-Lover:

  • Small candy — Hershey’s Kisses, fun-size candy packs, mini candy canes
  • Baked goods — cookies, brownies, muffins, mini donuts
  • Drinks — hot cocoa mix, coffee K-cups, tea bags
  • Gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, candy stores, and favorite restaurants

For the Accessory-Obsessed:

  • Jewelry — bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings
  • Hair accessories — headbands, hair clips, scrunchies, hair ties
  • COVID-19 essentials — mini hand sanitizer, face masks
  • Other accessories — small wallets, key chains, lanyards, phone rings or Popsockets, earbuds, fuzzy socks
  • Gift cards to stores like Francesca’s or Pandora

For the Beauty Guru:

  • Lip balm, lip stick, lip scrub
  • Nail polish or mini manicure sets
  • Makeup — eyeshadow singles or small palettes, brushes, travel-size products
  • Skincare — face masks, lotions, body wash, bath bombs
  • Gift cards to Sephora, Ulta, Bath and Bodyworks, Lush, and other beauty stores

Other General Ideas:

  • Christmas ornaments and small decorations
  • Mini notepads, washi tape, stickers
  • Small candles
  • Nice notes

You could also use 25 variations on one specific item, creating a cute and cohesive theme that doesn’t require too much shopping around. For example, a different flavored K-cup each day for the coffee addict in your life, Pokémon or sports cards for a collector, or nail polishes in all different colors.

Step 4: Assemble

With your containers decorated and filled, it’s time to put it all together. Wall calendars can be hung on string or ribbon with clothespins, attached to a large poster or frame, or pinned to a corkboard. Boxes can be stacked in a pyramid on a table or sat under the Christmas tree. Younger family members might also enjoy having each day’s gift hidden around the house, creating a small scavenger hunt each morning.

Step 5: Give (or Enjoy)

Add any finishing touches to your Advent calendar, and then it’s ready to go! These calendars can be gifts that are simple yet thoughtful, or they can be a handcrafted source of Christmas spirit for you each day. Whatever you choose to do with your Advent calendar, have a wonderful holiday season and happy crafting!