Advent Calendar!

8 12 2010

Every year I become enchanted with all the beautiful – and often complex – advent calendars out on the net. In fact, I become rather obsessed. The closer christmas comes, the more disappointed I become with myself for not pulling it off. Logically, I know that’s silly. One simply CANNOT do everything. But this year I found myself once again dreaming of little envelopes or bags filled with activities and the occasional sweet. I figured I’m no longer employed outside the home, so why can’t I pull this off? And then boom! December was upon us and I decided to have a good old fashion sit down with myself on what is important and what I have time to do while still enjoying the season. Enjoyment being key as all the hard work in the world isn’t worth it if you’re not enjoying  yourself. So I came to terms with an advent calendar not being in our cards this year.

That very same day, Seth came home with a strong desire to make an advent calendar. Did he sense I had just tossed that possibility out the window? All I can tell you is that he was NOT going to take no for an answer. He started digging through the recycling bin and the basement, emphatically saying no to any of my suggestions that involved leaving the house to buy supplies, and he came up with a plan. His own plan. The best kind.

He found the base materials:

  • a flattened cardboard box
  • green construction paper
  • a flattened paperboard box (from a large box of crackers)
  • a box cutter (actually he asked for this one)
  • a self healing cut mat (I kid you not – his idea)

I filled in the gaps:

  • white duct tape
  • markers and colored pencils
  • a bone folder


  1. We cut the cardboard and paper board to the same rectangular size, roughly 11X24″
  2. Then we covered the cardboard with a few pieces of construction paper
  3. These 3 pieces would form our layers but before attaching them we had a little work to do. Although Seth didn’t think it necessary I wanted a little picture on the front. You know, something to gussy it up. I was thinking along the lines that Seth or myself could draw. A snowman or a christmas tree perhaps. But Seth, with his infinite wisdom, chose a cabin. After sketching out a few ideas on scratch paper I looked up at him and said “maybe we should wait until your dad gets home”. To which he replied “because he designs houses at work”. “Yeah.” “Good idea.” And so we did.

    And boy am I glad we did.
  4. Next I used a stencil to trace out 24 uniform window openings and cut out the 3 sides with a box cutter. I also scored the 4th side of the window using a bone folder to make the window open more easily.
  5. Steve numbered the boxes and filled in the image with snow and sky coloring
  6. Despite my worry that duct tape was no longer classy enough for this masterpiece I went ahead and used it to edge the piece and hold the top paperboard layer to the paper covered cardboard.

I’m adding messages only a day or two prior to the window being opened to prevent peaking as well as to give me the flexibility I need around the holidays. I’ve got a whole list to draw from so that if I don’t feel like making cookies with the kids the next day I can replace it with something like give someone a compliment instead. Gently as I can, I pull back the window being careful not to truly crease the board. Then I write a little suggested activity for the day. Here’s a sampling of my list:

  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Sing a christmas carol
  • Buy a christmas tree
  • Decorate the tree
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Go sledding
  • Give someone a hug
  • Make orange pomanders
  • Go for a drive in our pjs to see christmas lights
  • Watch Rudolf
  • Make someone smile today
  • Dance to christmas music
  • Drink hot cocoa

Granted, you can see the Cheese It box front when you open the windows. If we do it again maybe I’d glue down a backing paper or paint it. But really, it doesn’t hurt the overall effect and the kids don’t seem to notice once bit. The best part of this project? That it was a collaborative effort. In my opinion, the best holiday projects, are ones you do with someone else. The fact that it was based off my son’s idea and initiative only makes it that much better, giving him confidence and pride in the outcome.




13 responses

8 12 2010

That is so awesome. To have someone in the household who can sit down and draw such a lovely picture for the calendar! I am fighting back the ugly envy monster. Are you taking orders?

8 12 2010
molly:: applecyder

Awesome was the first thing that came to mind for me too. Go Seth! Go Mom! Go Dad! (And little E!) It’s perfect.

8 12 2010

This is great, just beautiful.

8 12 2010

YAY ANNA!!!!! you did it! you are champion mom after all…and it turned out great. xx

8 12 2010

Oh, that is lovely. You all did a great job.

8 12 2010

Anna, this is inspired! You just blew my Christmas mind.

9 12 2010
ellen kelley

I am being very serious here:I think that this just might be the most beautiful, wonderful and fantastic Advent Calendar I have seen in ages. It speaks volumes: Love and attention of a family, anticipation of meaningful good things to come, and many hands joined together with love and connection.

9 12 2010
Mom and Kiddo

It’s so wonderful! And especially so, since it was such a family collaboration.

9 12 2010

everything is so good in this post! love the calendar.

10 12 2010

Loved it at pARTy, love the finished product even more! Well Done All!

16 12 2010

This turned out to be an amazing project. I love the colors, the daily activities, and the cozy cabin. Wonderful job, guys.
Good going Seth!

4 01 2011

It’s Beautiful! thanks for sharing it – i wrestle with the same problem.. .every year wanting to make one, and never quite making it. I even intended to make one for a friend this year, and even that didnt get me moving enough to get it done! But most of all, i like that you didnt put treats in EVERY window! Thanks for holding on to the perspective… ;-) Happy New Year.

27 01 2011
UK lass in US

It’s perfect. That wee cottage, the making it together, the activities… perfect.

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