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DIY Advent Calendar with a twist

Updated on November 20, 2013

Children worldwide look forward to the coming of Christmas. They see the lights, they hear the Christmas stories and music, they see the presents and their excitement for the occasion slowly builds. A customary way to help a child count down the days till Christmas is the use of an advent calendar. Although there are many types of advent calendars, traditionally such a calendar has 24 or 25 little doors cut out of a piece of card stock. Each day a little door is opened to reveal a picture, a candy or a prize.

From the past

Advent is a traditional term that means “coming”, and is used to refer to the coming of Christ. In Christianity, a period of advent is celebrated, starting four Sundays before Christmas. During this time Christians count down the days with music, fasting and other traditional activities. It is a sacred and important time of year in which Christians praise, honor and await the coming of their Christ. The advent calendar is what brought this period of worship and waiting into the homes of the common Christian.

Advent calendars were first used in Germany in the 19th century. Originally, Germans would count down the days till Christmas with chalk lines on their walls, lighting a candle for each day, or hanging a small picture daily until Christmas arrived. The first advent calendar (as we know it today) was created by a German printmaker, Gerhard Lang, in 1908. His first calendar was a printing in which you affixed a different picture for every day in December. Years later, he modified his original calendar to include small windows that opened to reveal a picture.

To the present

The anticipation that is common in the hearts of children is really what has made the advent calendar so popular. What child, in eager excitement, doesn’t wonder daily how many days there are till Christmas; when the arrival of Santa brings treats, and presents to their door step. Fueling a child’s excitement for this holiday is not only fun for parents and teachers but also is what makes childhood so magical.

This Christmas, I am proposing to turn the Advent calendar tradition around and I will show you an Advent calendar that children can make as a gift for their parents.

Make your own Advent Calendar

Here is what you'll need:

• a large sheet of kraft paper
• a sheet of green Bristol paper
• brown construction paper
• small remnants of wrapping paper or recycled gift paper
• gold coloured paper
• scissors
• white glue
• paper and pencil or pen
• gold paint (optional)
• brush (optional)
• glitter, stickers, ribbons, etc. (optional)

Start by creating a symmetrical template.

Take a sheet of kraft paper and fold it in half lengthwise.

Draw half a tree starting with the tip and then draw stylized branches increasing in size towards the bottom.

Cut the tree along the pencil lines and open the sheet of kraft paper to have the complete template.

Place your template on a sheet of construction paper and trace along your template with a pencil.

Cut along the pencil lines to obtain the Christmas tree.

Create a rectangular or trapezoidal template and cut out the trunk from brown construction paper.

Put glue on the top part of the trunk and glue the trunk to the tree.


Make a template for the ornaments by cutting out a small circle of about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter from construction paper.

Fold a piece of gift wrapping paper in two, three or four so that it has roughly the size of the template.

Place the template on the piece of folded wrapping paper and trace the outline of the ornament.

Cut through the different layers of wrapping paper to create the Christmas ornaments.

By using different colours of wrapping paper you will get all kinds of circles that represent Christmas baubles.

Place the tree that you created earlier in front of you.

Take one circle of wrapping paper and turn it over. Put white glue on approximately 3/4
of the circumference.

Place the circle with glue on the tree but take care to turn the section without glue upward.

The opening in the circle will form a pocket in which you will be able to insert a message.

Continue to glue 24 other circles on the tree for a total of 25 Christmas ornaments.

When all the Christmas balls are glued on the tree, number them randomly from 1 to 25 by writing
numbers on the balls.

To decorate the top of the tree, you can add a star cut from gold colored paper or from a piece of gift wrap

Ideas for messages
Ideas for messages | Source

To finish this Advent calendar, write a message or make a drawing for each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas.

Each message or drawing should be a promise to do something nice for your Mom or Dad on that day.

Cut out the strips of paper with your written messages or your drawings, fold them in four and insert them in the little pockets.

You can put a bit of gold paint on the tip of the message that sticks out of the Christmas ball, to represent the metal collar that is often found on top of ornaments. This step is optional.

Place the strips in the ornaments with the gold end visible.

Some ideas for Advent Calendar promises

 
I set the table.
I feed the cat.
I take out the garbage.
I make my bed.
I help decorate the Christmas tree.
I read a story to my little brother.
I tidy my room.
I dry the dishes.
I help prepare the meal.
I pass the vacuum cleaner in the kitchen.
I help fold the laundry.
I help my brother or my sister with their homework.
I water the plants.
I clean the cat's litter box.
I remove the dishes from the table.
I do half an hour of reading after school.
I store the clean clothes in the closet.
I put my toys away.
I help clean the car.
I walk the dog.
I read a story to my little sister.
I clean the cage of the bird.
I dust the furniture.
I wash the dishes.
I brush my teeth.

Comments

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    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      This is a god way to teach children to think of others. Voted up and useful!

    • Susan Recipes profile image

      Susan 3 years ago from India

      Wow... Wonderful idea kidscrafts. I simply love your step by step photos. Thanks for sharing. Voted up, awesome and interesting.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I will be very happy if you can use some of the ideas that I create. I believe strongly that kids learn better when they do it through art or craft and on top of it they gain with fine motor skills!

      Thank you for your kind comment!

      Enjoy your weekend :-)

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      I love this idea! My husband has something similar hanging up in his parent's home. I love seeing it every year and wanted something similar in my own home when we have children.

      Thank you for the incredible tutorial. I will certainly be using many of your craft ideas with the many children I babysit!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you so much, b.Malin :-))) You are the first person to put a comment in the New Year... I welcome it with open arms :-)

      On top of it, your comment is super kind! Thank you!

      PS : I can tell you that you made the right choice to move to Florida... I can hear the freezing rain making noise on my windows! The roads will be just terrible tomorrow!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 3 years ago

      You always have such Wonderful Ideas Kidscraft, very useful and Fun for the kids to make...You Go Girl, you are Cool and Fun!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi Kikalina! Thank you for your visit and kind comment! There is always next December :-) Happy New Year to you and your family :-)

    • kikalina profile image

      kikalina 3 years ago from Europe

      How cool...i really should have stumbled upon this hub earlier.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much MylindaElliott! I think it's important to teach children to share and have fun doing it at the same time :-)

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      I've seen several of these in the past few years. This one is lovely and has such a useful purpose to teach our children.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for sharing your childhood souvenirs, LKMore :-) I must say that I never had a Advent Calendar as a kid but my kids grew up with it :-) What I like about the one that I designed is that the child can give to his or her parents by promising to help each day :-) That makes the waiting more fun and bearable :-)

    • LKMore01 profile image

      LKMore01 3 years ago

      Advent calendars were always fascinating to me as a child. Our family didn't practice one particular religion and most of my neighborhood friends were Catholic. Advent calendars are like opening little mystery doors. You make their creation look so effortless, kidcrafts.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I am all bundle up inside for the moment because it's so cold outside :-( But at least I have a warm place to stay!

      Thank you for your visit and Merry Christmas to you!

    • stricktlydating profile image

      StricktlyDating 3 years ago from Australia

      What an awesome idea! Merry Christmas and stay warm in all that snowy weather!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much Torrilyn! I like this one because children play an active part in the preparation of Christmas.

      Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      Thanks for showing how to make an advent calendar. Interesting indeed. Voted up.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much, Michelle! I hope all is well for you, your family and your dogs :-) If you don't write any hub before Christmas.... I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Another great project from you! Thanks for sharing, Joelle!!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much LadyFiddler :-) I like to create and share some of the things I do because it might help teachers or kids to find a project that inspire them. I use to be a teacher.... and the teacher is always present in me :-)

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      You never cease to amaze me with the time and effort you put into your craft hubs, very lovely :).

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and compliment, Passionate :-) It's very kind of you!

      Blessings to you and yours! Have a lovely week!

    • passionate77 profile image

      passionate77 3 years ago

      i love your ideas, your ideas are always so amazing and amusing as well. very nice post kidscraft. blessings for sharing!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and comment, Ignugent! I hope that you had good news from your family in the Philippines!

      Have a nice weekend!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 3 years ago

      Interesting information about the advent. Thanks for sharing your creative ideas. :-)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit, your kind comment, the vote and sharing, Jo! I can understand that your husband has fond memories about Christmas in Germany; they have the loveliest wooden ornaments! I can't go to Germany and not pick up something either to decorate the tree or any other kind of ornaments.

      If you ever go to Germany, you have to visit this store : http://bit.ly/18oLyUj. On top of it the village is also beautiful, it's in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

      Thanks again for your visit :-)

      Have a nice Friday!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      This is such a wonderful way for children to count down Christmas. My husband spent most of his childhood in Germany, this is one of his fondest childhood memories. Always beautiful, clever and you make it look so easy!! Voting up and sharing.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      This is such a wonderful way for children to count down Christmas. My husband spent most of his childhood in Germany, this is one of his fondest childhood memories. Always beautiful, clever and you make it look so easy!! Voting up and sharing.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your jolly comment, Charron :-) I can tell you that each time I visit one your hubs or you visit one of mine.... I have a big smile on my face :-))) Really! You have a unique way to write that is fun to read!

      Thank you for your kind comment and sharing!

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • CharronsChatter profile image

      Karen Robiscoe 3 years ago from California

      You have this crafting thing down to a fine art...ho ho ho....all double entendres intended. The kid in me adores this! And the adult in me just might make it...shared to the Face Place, Krafty One. Blessings this holiday season. :)

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your visit, comment and vote, Eddy! Very kind of you!

      Have a great week!

      Joelle

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What a wonderful hub and one for me to vote up, across and share.

      Have a great day and here's to so many more to come.

      Eddy.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and your kind words, Bill. I find this calendar not so traditional because in this case the children give instead of receiving. And it's a good thing sometimes :-)

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      What a great idea Joelle. And your step-by-step instructions are so easy to follow. With the holidays coming this is a great activity to do with a classroom or at home with the kids or grandkids. Congratulations on another winner.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Yes, it's true, Crafty. He could create one per month (it would keep it fresh and inviting for him) depending on the season or his interest (sports, animals, nature, etc.). For sure, sometimes kids need a change of how to present things so it's still interesting for them :-)

      Have a great weekend :-)

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is such a great idea! My thought here is that this can be useful for any time of year as well. My son needs specific directions. I used to have a chore chart on his door, but he outgrew that one. This one might be fun to change to match the season. Awesome!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your enthusiasm for this project Anna. I must say that I loved doing this project with my students. Deep inside, the children like to help their parents :-) I am sure that it brings family together and everybody appreciate that!

      Have a nice weekend!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      What a great idea and I love the altruistic element to it.

      Adent calenders now seem to be filled with uniformed little chocolate shapes which means we have lost the excitement of opening the door and seeing what picture is inside.

      It looks like a brilliant project for the Christmas run up.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and kind comment, Wetnose :-)

      This project can be nice either at school, at daycare, at home or even at Sunday school!

      Have a great evening!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

      What a great idea for the advent calendar. Fun, fulfilling project. And appreciate the history lesson.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much for your kind comment, the vote and the pinning, Flourish! Indeed it's a project where you can recycle some wrapping paper or use those little pieces that are not big enough to wrap! I used to collect them when I was a teacher for this project :-) I think also this project allows kids and parents to get closer and better appreciate each other.

      Thanks again and have a great day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I like the creativity and positive messages associated with this craft. It's also a great way to use up all those scraps of Christmas wrapping paper. Voted up and pinning. A wonderful idea for a classroom project or for home.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you very much, Purl3Agony! My wish is that this project will help parents and kids enjoy the time before Christmas :-)

      Have a nice day!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for coming and commenting, Devika! It's always nice to have your visit and comments :-)

      Enjoy the rest of the day!

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and kind comments, Faith! I am sure that your grandchildren would love to do this special project with you and their parents will enjoy the help :-)

      Thank you for the vote and share :-) I hope that you will have a nice day!

      Blessings to you and yours!

      Joelle

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your visit and comment, DrPennyPincher! I am sure that with this project, kids will love to help their parents and the parents will be amazed to see the motivation in their children!

      Have a nice day!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 3 years ago from USA

      Such a great idea!! Thanks, as always!!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      DIY Advent Calendar with a twist, great idea and you have a talent for the many creative suggestions well done!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, I have always loved Advent Calendars! This is a lovely project to do with my grandchildren and for all children. I remember loving it when I was a child too. Great hub dear Joelle!

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • drpennypincher profile image

      Dr Penny Pincher 3 years ago from Iowa, USA

      I like your ideas for promises- kids can enjoy doing something for their parents, and the parents will certainly enjoy seeing their kids helping out.

    • kidscrafts profile image
      Author

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for your comment, Bill! I used to have my students create those calendars and they loved to make them.... and the parents loved to receive them :-) It was also a great way to have them write while making crafts! It was a win win win activity :-)))

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very nice activity for the classroom or for families....love this idea. We did this in my classrooms, or a variation of it anyway. Excellent job of explaining the steps and great suggestions.