Growing up I remember how excited I was to have my very own chocolate filled Christmas countdown calendar every year. As a family, we didn’t attend church. I didn’t know what Advent was, much less why it was celebrated. I just knew that every morning I was allowed to open a little paper numbered door and devour a waxy piece of chocolate. Each chocolate I ate brought Christmas one day closer.
My mom carried this special memory onto her grandchildren. With Thanksgiving dinner came the handing out of Dollar Tree chocolate filled calendars. My kids were as excited to receive them as I was 25 years ago. I love that.
We lost my mom last December, she will be a year gone in just over a week. Among the many memories of her I hold onto, the Advent calendar is one of my favorites. It was a big deal to her. I saw how much it hurt her last year when she was too sick to be out shopping and visiting, when she was unable to continue her tradition.
I can’t replace this memory and there is little I can do to improve upon it so I will leave it be. Chocolate filled calendars are grandma’s thing and they will always be.
I do want to make sure my children know what Advent is. I want them to know what each day leading up to Christmas signifies and why we should commemorate it with a special treat or story. This year, for the first time, I introduced a new advent calendar, one that will meet us each year.
Christmas isn’t about the presents under the tree or the parties or the treats. Christmas is about a tiny baby and what His birth meant for each of us. Advent helps us to learn and remember and celebrate.
This is our Advent calendar, how we made it and how we enjoy it.
I knew I wanted a BIG and colorful Advent calendar. I found most of my supplies at my favorite store, Hobby Lobby, some of the items I already had on hand.
The Supplies :
- Hot glue gun and school glue to attach number and decorative cards to paper bag
- Mini paper sacks – I love the mix of chevron and solid color bags I used, the subtle design adds character but allows the colors of the cards to pop
- Card stock cut to desired sizes – I already had Project Life (affiliate link) cards and I used two different sizes, 2″x2″ for the number cards and 4″x6″ for the background cards
- Festive ribbon – I used 1.5″ thick ribbon
- Teeny tiny adorable clothespins
- Scissors – to cut the ribbon
- Markers – to write your numbers
The Process :
- Coordinate your background cards (the larger cards) with your number cards (the smaller cards). It was easier for me if I paired all number cards with its coordinating background card before I started writing numbers or gluing. Having it all organized made the assembling step a lot quicker.
- Write your numbers on each number card, glue the number card to the corresponding background card then glue to the mini paper sacks. I alternated the chevron and solid print bags.
- Decide how you want to display your advent calendar. I wanted a Christmas Tree-ish design so I cut my ribbon in 5 strips in increasing length to create a tiered look. I attached the ribbon to the wall using thumbtacks (shhh…don’t tell my husband).
Before hanging our Advent bags on our ribbon I added the most important component of our Advent calendar…..the story of Christmas. I found a great Christmas Story Advent Calendar printable on RedBirdBlue. I love the look and simplicity of these cards. I printed them out on card stock and cut them using the pre-marked guides.
- The cards are already numbered so I slid each card into it’s own bag. I also added little treats (mini chocolates, stickers, coins) into random bags to surprise the kids.
- Hang each bag onto the ribbon using the adorable mini clothespins. You can hang in order or mix the numbers around and make the kids hunt for each day.
Because our lives are crazy and we never know when we are going to be together as a family, when we open our calendar bags vary. One thing remains constant, we open the bags together and share the story of Christmas with one another. The boys can take turns reading the cards. I absolutely love hearing the Word come from their mouths.
And there you have it, our simple but fun DIY Advent calendar. A new tradition inspired by treasured memory.
How does your family celebrate Advent? Do you have a favorite calendar? I would love to hear your traditions, please share them below.
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