Advent Calendar DIY

Advent calendars are a holiday tradition I love. We never did them growing up, but I was always envious of friends who did. The idea that at least once a day a family would gather together to celebrate the holiday in a small way gets my Christmas obsession going. The holidays can get crazy and stressful, shuttling from one relatives house to another. I idealized the notion of updating an advent calendar daily as a way to promote family togetherness and reflection. Does opening a small box/door or changing a number on a sign really have that much power? Probably not, but it's still a tradition I'm excited to start with Merle.

In case you're wondering, the concept of an advent calendar began in Germany in the 1850s. Originally a simple chalk mark or candle lit in the days leading up to Christmas, advent calendars evolved to incorporate holiday imagery and chocolate treats. President Eisenhower is credited with bringing the advent calendar to the US public after a photo was published of his grandchildren using one. Check out this article for additional information on its history.

I've seen numerous DIY versions on Pintrest (view my holiday board here) as well as beautiful, but pricey store bought ones. Using yesterday's holiday printed paper, I've made my own version of an advent calendar by creating small boxes to store goodies. It costs next to nothing and even with 25 boxes, it takes up very little space. I plan on stacking them up beneath our Christmas tree once it's up. 

Now on to the filling. At two and a half, we don't allow Merle to have candy or sweets of any kind, so that's out of the question. I thought about putting a marble in each box since Merle is getting a marble shoot this year (more details on that next week), but I didn't want to give away the surprise. I also considered small animal figurines or mini ornaments. Then I came up with a better idea. Instead of buying more stuff, we should be thankful for what we already have a la Thanksgiving. In each box of the advent calendar, I'm putting in a small note reminding us of things we should be thankful #blessed. 

Want to know how to make your own boxes? Begin by downloading my template here and printing out whatever paper designs you want to use.

Advent Calender DIY

Cut around the outer edges of the template.

Place the template over the patterned paper and secure it in place with paperclips.

Cut out the paper to the template specs.

Make small incisions along the bright blue lines. Remove the template and cut apart the top and bottom halves.

Repeat the process until all of the patterned paper is cut out. Put the template over the trimmed paper and fold along the squares depicted in the template. When folding, always fold toward the center.

Stand the side 'wings' up and fold toward the center.

While holding these in place, fold the longer 'tails' over the wings and into the center of the box.

Repeat with the other side. Ta da! Half a box is made.

Repeat the process with the other half of the box. Use the pointer finger and thumb to gently press in the sides of the bottom half of the box* and insert it into the top half. No glue or tape is needed**. Continue the process until all twenty five boxes are made***. Use number stickers or numbers cut from metallic contact paper (what I'll be doing) to label the boxes 1- 25.

A few notes

*As you may notice, the template for the top and bottom are the same. Whichever half looks better after folding gets to be the top and the other is the bottom.

**The key to getting the boxes to stay together is crisp folding. Run a finger nail or ruler over creases as you fold to ensure tight folds.

***The template is designed for 8.5" x 11"  paper and creates square boxes that are 1.3" x 1.3" x 1.3". I made small boxes to use less paper/ink and because they come together faster. If you want, use a copier to scale up the template for larger boxes.

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