Monday, December 05, 2011

Making an Advent calendar

Growing up we never had Advent calendars. I don't think it was for any particular reason, they just weren't a part of our Christmas tradition. When A. and I started living together we bought the cheap $3 calendars from Wal-Mart with the waxy chocolates that we stopped eating after day six. As M. gets older and understands more about Christmas I wanted to make something that would be meaningful and that would allow us to track which activities we did over the years. I pinned several different inspiration photos to Pinterest but the one that ultimately stole my heart was this library cards & pockets Advent calendar from Not on the High Street.

I used this picture as an inspiration for my own project. I used materials that were readily accessible and purchased what I needed (sturdy scrapbooking paper, vinyl stick-on numbers, and mini clothespins) from Michael's. My book pockets have an adhesive back so I cut the scrapbook paper to size and attached the pockets to the paper.

True to my library nerd nature I looked up the Library of Congress call number for Advent calendars (GT 4988.5 if you care) and created a Cutter number (signifies the author) for our last name. My brilliant co-worker (a crafting whiz in her own right) suggested the phrase "On the {number} day of Advent" as the title proper (fancy cataloging term) for each card.

I mapped out our activities on a calendar beforehand (some items had to be placed on weekends) and then wrote them out on the borrower line of the book card. This way we are easily able to see what we did year after year since each year will have its own line on the card.

I strung everything up on a heavy twine and each day we pick out the card as a family. I'm really loving it so far and hope it can turn into an annual tradition!

When I was trying to come up with 24 different activities I searched around and found some great lists like this one from Jordan Ferney and this one from Kim McCrary. I took a few ideas from them and came up some more that suited our family and arrived at the following list. Borrow at will!
  • Hang the wreath
  • Pick out a book for the Birth & Babies exchange
  • Make a tree topper
  • Decorate the tree
  • Hang stockings
  • Make a popcorn garland
  • Pick an item from the World Vision catalog
  • Listen to Christmas music
  • Pancakes for dinner
  • Go tobogganing
  • Make cookies
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Hot chocolate in front of the fire
  • Drive around the neighbourhood to look at lights
  • Make snow angels
  • Hang yearly ornament (Tradition #1: M. gets a new ornament every year. She will then have a starter collection for when she has her own home.)
  • Go skating
  • Visit Santa
  • Pick a Christmas treat
  • Watch Mickey's Christmas Carol
  • Snowball fight
  • Unwrap a new book to read tonight
  • Christmas PJs (Tradition #2: New pajamas every year at Christmas)
  • Read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (Tradition #3: We read from the same copy A. had as a child)

Do you have an Advent calendar every year? Have you ever made one?


  1. I love this - reading about it actually gave me goosebumps - what a lovely idea.

    We had chocolate advent calendars a couple times when I was young, but the "permanent" one we had was a big, fabric wallhanging of a house, with a little stuffed teddy bear that moved from room to room, attaching to a button in a different place for each day. Cute, but not all that much fun once you're more than six or seven :)

    Nowaways (ha! I can't believe I just used that word!) people have created advent calendars that are just so much more creative and engaging. I think M is going to love this tradition!

  2. This is brilliant, Court! And it looks fantastic!

    My nieces are almost old enough now to 'get' advent calendars and counting down days. My sister heard of this idea: gathering together 24 Christmas-related books, and wrapping them. The kids open one each night and get it read to them as a story; at the end the books get put away for another year, and rewrapped for the following December.

    The book gathering started too late to try it this year, but I'll let you know how it goes in 2012! ;)

  3. Thanks ladies!

    Laurel, that's a fantastic idea! I'd be tempted to do both next year.

  4. I LOVE this! We've done an advent for a few years now, but also didn't grow up with one. I'm a bit of a book nerd myself so I'm totally geeking out on how you did this. Awesome!