Sunday, December 2, 2012

A DIY Advent Calender- Miss Two's countdown to Christmas

I know December has already started but l know l won't be alone in chasing my tail and trying to get ready for Christmas. Last night we finished a simple Advent calender using kikki.k stickers, paper, plastic pockets and some washi tape. I thought I'd share it this DIY for Christmas that might inspire you to finish yours this weekend. I think it's never to late, our little people don't care they just love that we took the time to create something special for them. You should have seen the smile and hugs we got from Miss Two when she came downstairs this morning still sleepy at 7am and saw what was hanging over our fireplace to celebrate Christmas.

This crafty project took about 2 hours to create and put together, I even roped in Ads to write the little messages inside the plastic pockets each day to share with Miss Two. There's a few things you'll need but the idea for this Advent calender can easily be adapted to use with what you have. You can make it bigger by using boxes for multiple children or easier by using little envelopes which you will then decorate. The key is to have stickers that makes decorating quick, easy and streamlined to prevent the Advent calender looking cluttered. I also didn't want to use a chocolate Advent calender from the supermarket but l wanted to encourage Miss Two's creative spirit and provide hours of fun in the weeks ahead. It might cost a little more money but l think it's worth it.

What you'll need
25 Plastic square pockets or envelopes for each day
25 smaller plastic pockets for the presents to go inside the envelopes (optional)
Brown Kraft paper for decorating
Washi tape in various Christmas colours and designs
kikki.k Christmas sticker and label book
Small paper dollies
Paper cut out circles
Numbered stickers for each day
Kitchen twine
25 wooden pegs
1 3M picture hook
1 tree branch

For the Presents
Notes for each day
Lollypops or wrapped lollies
Craft supplies
Hair clips
Small toys

How to make
I cleared room on the kitchen table and counted out 25 plastic pockets for each of the days of December. I wanted to use plastic pockets to keep things simple and the parcels small so they would stay on the wall when hung. I cut folded squares of brown Kraft paper to use inside the plastic pocket to hold the surprises inside and as a backdrop for stickers and the decorations.
I invested in a Fiskars x-large circle punch from Spotlight ($30.00) a couple of weeks ago for creating paper bunting and gift tags and cut circles out of red and green envelopes l had leftover from our engagement party and wedding some five years ago. You could cut these out by hand using a drinking glass or a small coffee cup as a template. It'll take time but you don't want too many circles on the front of your Advent calendar envelopes you just need enough to make each day look different.
Instead of buying envelopes you could use coloured paper or recycle old Christmas cards for this purpose. I then added Kikki K Christmas stickers over the cut out circles and paper dollies to create a colourful Christmas scene. I added strips of washi tape to some of the brown paper squares adding the numbered stickers at the end usually in the centre or just off centre so they were easy to see and read for Miss Two. The numbers were part of the Kikki K Christmas sticker book ($19.95) which meant l didn't have to use a coloured marker or create my own stickers and was a real time saver. Using the Kikki K sticker book also meant that the Christmas Advent Numbers and the Christmas themed stickers were all of the same colour palette so they blended well together when the project was hung on the branch.
It was important to make the plastic pockets look different side by side, l found laying them all on the kitchen table in order made this easily achievable and you could see what you were doing and how they looked in order.
I also advise doing this DIY project when your little people are out of the house or asleep as it makes things quicker and it stays a surprise.
I then added treats and used the circle cutter to make 25 paper circles to write on and put inside the plastic pockets for each day. The notes we wrote using a Rainbow pen from Kikki K were colourful and shared ideas with Miss Two, like it's bath night get an extra 10 minutes, it's Mexican, today we blow bubbles, go to the park, have tickle time, a little poem or Christmas song or it was a message about something we love about her that we want her to know. It's important to me that Miss Two has a healthy self-esteem and belief about herself and this was a great opportunity to do this.
Then it was assembly time and this took about 20 minutes. I cheated a bit and used a slightly smaller plastic pocket which l filled with craft supplies (small and big coloured pom poms, Christmas and character/animal stickers, coloured pipe cleaners + rainbow match sticks), lollies, hair clips and other treats. I laid these out over each of the days to help make each day different when she opened her surprises so one day she had craft, then hair clips, mixed stickers or lollies.
The clear plastic square pockets/envelopes were packed and sealed. Two strips of Sticky tape were used to attach lengths of kitchen twine to each of the square plastic pockets ready for hanging them on the tree branch.
I wanted to use a pine tree branch for the Advent calender but couldn't find one we decided to use a Willow branch from the vase in the kitchen. I wrapped four washi tape colours around the branch to blend it in with the plastic pockets and colour scheme and used a long length of Kitchen twine to hang it up. By tying the length of twine from the two sides of the branch and hanging it with a 3M hook it sits evenly on the wall and supports the weight of the Advent calender evenly.
I found tying the kitchen twine to the branch in varying lengths and then cutting the excess twine away was easier than doing it at the beginning.
The trick was hanging No. 1 and then No. 25 on the branch to ensure that the plastic envelopes were placed evenly on the branch and there was enough room for the 25 envelopes to hang flat on the branch. To finish the Advent calender l added a small wooden peg to the top of each plastic pocket (kikki.k has a twine and peg pack) to secure the tape and string to each envelope so the weight of the presents didn't pull to much on the string. It also added to the overall look of the calender hanging on the branch.
And you're all done.
It's time to stand back and enjoy your crafty Christmas creation.

If any of you have created Christmas decorations or Advent calenders share a photo or comment below and share a link I'd love to hear all about it.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

X Mummafox
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