Free Advent Calendar!

Christmas Advent Calendar - Finished calendarAre you looking for a personalized, fun and free Advent Calendar to count down the days until Christmas?  I started seeing chocolate advent calendars in the stores right after Halloween and have been thinking ever since then how we can make our own from things we already have around the house.

Last year, I put together 24 paper bags with goodies and messages inside each one for our children to open every morning.  But even though the paper bags were made with 100% recycled paper and we put them in the recycle bin when we were done, this year I wanted to find a way to make something that used what we already had that could still be recycled afterwards.

I saved wrapping paper tubes and paper towel tubes for potential future crafts (and Star Wars light saber role playing).  I knew there had to be some way I could use these cardboard tubes for some sort of Advent calendar so I cut them into 2 inch sections and my 6 year old used wrapping paper scraps from last year’s Christmas to cover the outsides of each tube (yes, I am a pack rat and save all sorts of things for crafting).  I then hot glued them onto the cardboard base we covered with construction paper.

We decided on a Christmas tree pattern (I tried a gift pattern, wreath, and a few others but we liked the tree one the best).

Christmas Advent Calendar - Ready to be filled 2 Christmas Advent Calendar - Gluing them onto the cardboard backing in tree shape

Once I had the “containers” all set, both girls (age 2 and 6) had a blast decorating the base with stickers and letters.  The oldest was in charge of spelling out “Merry Christmas” and the youngest was in charge of adding snowflakes and other stickers to make it festive.

Christmas Advent Calendar - Ready to be filled

While they decorated the base with the stickers and letters, I planned out what our activity would be for each day from December 1 through 24.  We don’t do one for Dec. 25 but you can add one in for that day if you typically carry the count down through to Christmas morning.

After I had written them on little slips of paper, I cut out circles from construction paper to cover the tube holes with and numbered each one.

Christmas Advent Calendar - Planning the daily activities

The most time consuming part of this whole project was coming up with 24 activities for this calendar and matching things up with our real life calendar.  I had to have my daily planner for this part because some days I knew we wouldn’t have time to do a Christmas craft, for example, or another day was the Christmas parade in our local town so I wanted to make sure that was our activity for that day.

I also put little chocolates (Hershey kisses or Hershey miniatures sized) in each of the daily tubes.  My kids loved decorating this project and helped with all of it except the activity and filling part of course – you have to keep that part a surprise!  We were going to use a hole punch to tie a ribbon at the top and hang it on the wall, but the kids decided it would be more fun to just let it rest against our Christmas tree so every morning they could go there to find out what our activity for the day would be.

In the end, this is so much better than the store bought Advent calendars and even better than our paper bags version last year!  Even better, it cost me $0 – it was absolutely free using what most consider trash!  This really was a trash to treasure project!

I also want to point out another advantage to making your own calendar – Not only do the kids get a little treat, but you can incorporate some charitable activities each day to help remind them of the true meaning of holiday spirit and sharing.

So look around your house, grab some “trash” and turn it into a holiday “treasure”!!!

Christmas Advent Calendar - Happy with our finished calendar




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