Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frugal, Festive & Reusable Advent Calendar Ideas

I know all of my American readers are focused on Thanksgiving right now (you guys can bookmark this post for later) but since I'm Canadian and I had my Thanksgiving six weeks ago, I'm busy getting ready for the big Christmas Countdown.

Even though my boys have hit the advanced ages of 11 and 13, they still love to keep track of how much time is left until the Big Day arrives. Perhaps their enthusiasm has something to do with the fact that our two reusable Advent calendars have become an integral part of our holiday celebrations (as well as centerpieces of our holiday decor).

One of our most cherished Christmas decorations is the Advent Quilt a close friend of mine made for us back when our kids were tiny little things.

As you can see, it's a Christmas tree, and (not as easy to see in the photo) under the tree are presents with little numbered pockets. Each pocket contains an ornament to hang on the tree. The pocket for the 24th has the angel to hang on the top of the tree on Christmas Eve (you can see her peeking out of the pocket in the bottom right hand corner). Not only is this a beautiful keepsake, it's totally reusable from one year to the next - which means even if the beginning of Advent sneaks up on me and I'm totally unprepared, we always have one calendar that's ready to go!

Our second Advent Calendar is one that my mom purchased for us several years ago. It has a fabric pocket for each day that is large enough to hold either edible treats or a small gift (like a keychain, marbles, or a small action figure).

One year when we had a super-tight (i.e. almost nonexistent) budget for Christmas, I filled this with scraps of coloured paper on which I'd written out a special holiday-related activity for each day (things like "bake sugar cookies", "watch Frosty the Snowman together" or "go see the holiday display downtown"). Another year I put a goofy Christmas joke in each pocket. This type of calendar lends itself to lots of different possibilities!

There are tons of other great ideas for creating your own Advent calendars out in the blogosphere as well. Here are a few I've found that could be done easily with little to no cost:

"Big Box" Advent Calendar at Mod Podge Rocks
 You could use old match boxes, jewelry boxes, or make your boxes from cereal boxes

Cookie Sheet Advent Calendar at Matt and Shari
This is a clever design and you could easily adapt it to use items you've got on hand (if you have a beat up cookie sheet that's ready to be retired, you could paint it and use it to make one of these).

String of Lights Advent Calendar at Elsie Marley
You could felt some worn out pieces of wool clothing if you don't have enough scraps of felt on hand to make this. So cute and clever!

Do you have a favourite reusable Advent calendar? Please share a link if you've got one.


  1. We also have a reusable advent calendar, made of felt, from an old Vogue sewing pattern, I think. It also has a Christmas tree with decorations, but they aren't particularly associated with any given day, so it is a choice. Our kids are now 19 and 16, and yes, we still "have to put it up" and they alternate days to put up a decoration. I never imagined it would be so popular for so long.

  2. we made an origami advent calendar this year...I cut 24, 6" by 6" squares out of colorful construction paper (you can also buy origami paper but I was looking to save where I could so I could fill with candy :)

    Then we folded the squares into neat little cups or baskets (I got the 'how to' from the internet) link is here:

    Then we numbered each cup or basket. I cut gold ribbon strips to make the handles and stapled them onto the 24 baskets.

    We each wrote 8 activities (there's three of us, me, Joe and Justin) that we wanted to do for each day, such as go look at xmas lights or make cookies or watch a xmas movie, etc., (I actually put as one of mine a 5 minute neck rub for each us so it doesn't have to totally be xmas oriented :)

    Then we put three pieces of candy and one activity in each basket and hung each one on a curtain rod hook (we didn't have a curtain hanging, just the rod but you could also hang them from a string)

    We open the first one tomorrow and we are all looking forward to the surprise activity...oh yeah, and the candy. :)I have a picture of the finished product but I don't know how to post it here...

  3. @ Anonymous - that's cool that your older teens still love your Advent calendar! I expect mine will, too.

    @Kathy - that is such a great simple Advent calendar idea, thank you for sharing it. I really would love to see the photo - could you upload it to the Abundance on a Dime Facebook page, perhaps?


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