When I was a kid, I always wanted an advent calendar. I’m not sure if was because I wanted to open a gift every day in December, or if I was just so excited for Christmas that I wanted a visual reminder of how many days were left until Santa came. Whatever the reason, I never had one.
So last year, I decided to make an advent calendar for my three-year-old sister and start a childhood “Countdown to Christmas” tradition for her. I searched Pinterest looking for ideas, and finally stumbled upon this:
I liked this advent calendar for a few reasons. I thought a large board with boxes wrapped in festive paper made an adorable holiday decoration for the house. (I ended up putting it on a folded tree skirt on the floor so my little sister could reach the boxes, but it would also look super cute on an end table surrounded by garland). What I liked most about this advent calendar though were the little boxes – they were the perfect size for little gifts, and easy and fun for her to open with her little hands. I modified this idea by using a magnetic board and gluing magnets to the back of each box, that way my sister could take the boxes off the board to open them. Also, this makes it so we can rearrange them each year!
- Magnetic Board – this was a clearance find at Hobby Lobby, so if you have a hard time finding one, try painting plywood with magnetic wall paint (available at Michael’s or Home Depot)
- 25 [jewelry gift] boxes, assorted sizes – Donahue Paper Emporium
Side note: Donahue Paper Emporium (located in Centennial, CO) is one of my favorite craft stores. I stumbled upon it when I was looking for hundreds of gift bags for an event at work. They carry paper and envelopes in all shapes, colors, weights, and textures (great for a handmade card maker like myself) as well as gift boxes, bags, markers, cards and fun little gifts. Plus, I like supporting local businesses.
- Holiday scrapbooking paper – Michael’s and Hobby Lobby
- Martha Stewart Flourish Square Hole Punch – Hobby Lobby
- Gold metallic pen – Michael’s
- Scotch Permanent Glue Stick – Michael’s (I use this to make all of my handmade cards)
- Circle magnets – Michael’s
- Glue Dots, ½” in diameter – Michael’s
To save myself time and energy, I only wrapped the box lids with paper. I bought brown, craft paper-like boxes, which matched the holiday paper quite nicely. Taking a lid from every size box, I traced the lid and sides to make a template. Cut out paper for each box and using the glue stick, glue onto the lid, starting by gluing on the top then folding the paper over to cover the sides. Use glue dots to adhere 1-4 magnets on the back of the box (depending on its size).
To make the gift tags for the numbers, I used a Martha Stewart Flourish Square hole punch to punch out 25 squares. I then printed numbers 1-9 on computer paper. Using a light box, I traced the numbers with a gold metallic pen and followed the edge of the square to make a gold border on each tag. Glue the gift tags onto each box lid.
Arrange gift boxes on the magnetic board. Fill with 25 small gifts, candies or activity cards for fun things to do together.
Don’t know where to buy small gifts? Try the Dollar Tree or the $1 section at Target.
Still need gift ideas? Try mini bottles of nail polish, band-aids (in my babysitting experience, kids love band-aids, whether they have boo-boos or not), stickers, jingle bells, a small ornament, keychain, hair clips, holiday magnets, candy/chocolate, temporary tattoos, play jewelry, chapstick, socks or a mini stocking.