It is my favorite time of the year and no not because I love the cold and the surprise snow I woke up to this morning. But because I love Christmas and honestly its probably what helps me get through winter. The colours are so bright and cheery, the lights bring everyone joy and the movies! I mean come on there is just so much to love in the layout of Christmas!
A little back story
About this time for the past 3 years I have created our families advent calendar. Initially I got the idea from a parenting magazine and it was a different design with paper folded into a triangle like shape. We started doing it because my kids didn’t like the ready made chocolate ones you can get anywhere, they had the excitement of opening but didn’t like the chocolate inside so they throw it out…. what a waste! This year I wanted to try something different for us. So I created our own design and thought I would share how we do it. I also set up the whole thing as a challenge for myself to do it all from the dollar store. All items I purchased were from Dollarama.
Tools I used from home
- Cutting matt
- Exacto knife (I had to use a silly one because I couldn’t find mine)
- Glue gun and glue
- Star hole punch (optional)
- Craft paint
- large ruler
Items purchased from dollar store
- 3 packs of jam jars
- 2 packs of adhesive paper
- 1 sheet of black foam core
- 1 Christmas wood craft sign
- Glitter paper (I didn’t use this)
- 2 light necklaces as a surprise for inside one of the dates
The cost was $31.98, so yes it is more than some of the chocolate only ones (x1) but this is for 2 kids and will mostly be activities not just sugar. In the end totally worth spending a bit more on the design. although I do want to get the cool lego ones one year because they look so fun!
Step 1: Planning The Layout
Layout all the jars and title first, so you know how you want the design to be laid out in the end. I know I don’t want to use the whole foam core it is really large. I offset it to one side but if you don’t want to cut it in the end then just create a design using the whole thing and more decorative stickers.
*Take a picture of this layout so you know closer to the end what the intention was when you started. If you skip this step you may regret it…
Step 2: Cutting Privacy Wraps
I chose to use the gold adhesive paper to wrap the jars. Measure the strip size you need. I also found my decorative cutting scissors and chose to cut the tops in a nice smooth wave design. Every 5 remind yourself you’re almost done! Another idea I had initially was to paint the jars white. This may be easier but who doesn’t love glittery paper. I was surprised that I got paper with glitter on it from the dollar store that didn’t come off every time I touched it!
Step 3: Applying Privacy Wraps
This step is only tricky if you didn’t cut you’re end cuts straight. If you didn’t your priority is to get the top side as straight as possibly but don’t worry if its off a bit no one will notice but you honestly! If you try to hard to straighten it along the way you will get terrible wrinkles in the paper, so just let the wrap win on where it wants to go.
*I will say don’t try to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles with your nails because it did leave a grey mark so I only tried that once…
Step 4: Adding Personal Touches
I still had Gold adhesive paper left over so I decided to decorate the jar lids with stars using a star hole punch I already had, if you have stickers you can use those instead to add decorations to your design. It was also time to add the personal touches to the Christmas sign I found. I chose to decorate this with the same colour design as the jars in red and gold. I opted for a deeper red honestly because that’s what I already had. My kids said “WOW” when they saw the sign so it was a win! I painted the red first so I didn’t have to worry about how I would get into the tight spaces with out covering the gold letters. After painting the red I painted the letters white to make sure the gold covered the way I intended it to. Each colour took 2 coats to get the a finished look.
Step 5: Cutting and Covering
This part was the hardest! The cutting was easy even though I couldn’t find my knife but I did find a roller cutter I knew would do the job. I cut the foam core and then I cut the silver adhesive paper to size for the foam core. I chose to have the seam at the top since the Christmas sign would cover most of the transition.
This is where is gets hard…. This adhesive paper on this scale is a 2 person job! It grabbed onto the foam core immediately and half of it ended up with wrinkles, very disappointing because this paper is so beautiful. Because I was a single person doing a 2 person job, no picture of this though I should have done a video for you all just to give you a laugh.
Step 6: Gluing
I used my large ruler to help me keep the layout consistent from the bottom and worked my way up. I applied fair amount of glue to the bottom outside ring of each of the jars, since I knew this was going to be heavy I wanted to make it as secure as possible. Run a couple streams of glue on the back of the Christmas sign as well. At the end just move your hands around each jar to remove all the glue floaties and your done!
*Before lifting it up loosen all the lids, since this is heavier you want to limit the month of play you have to do on each one or you could rip off the jar especially if the lid is stuck
Step 7: Family Fun
This is where everyone who is home gets involved, Dad was at work so we bunkered down. We list out up to 20-21 things we would like to do during our count down. This is how you layout and design your December like a pro! The kids opted for 3 days of candy this year, insert 2 each from the Halloween stash. I’ll like the items the we all picked at the end if you want some ideas. After you decide what you’re doing you want to sort out each thing into a specific category, to save your sanity!
- Weekends Only
- Specific Days
If you don’t do this you could get stuck with something in the middle of the weak you have no time for, like Christmas Baking! Who has time for that after school. In the list at the end I’ll also let you know how we deal with things in the event that it has to push off to another day.
Step 8: Hanging
Decide where you want each nail to be, you want them to be a decent size since again this is a fair amount of weight. I wanted the nail heads to be hidden so I added more stars on top of them. This is where you can see the disheartening wrinkles on the back drop, again so disappointing.
*This is heavy so the way I hung mine may not work for you, please use your own discretion when hanging your own
Step 9: Fill it
I usually do this step when the kids are in bed so they don’t snoop into the plans. At the beginning I noted I bought some cute light up necklaces and they kids don’t know I did that. Luckily they didn’t count the amount of days and candy we did to notice one was missing.
* Make sure you look at a calendar when you do this! If you did it similar to mine your week starts on a Sunday and that can be all messed up if you forget and start laying in your weekend only days.
Step 10: Numbers
I actually decided I didn’t want to add the numbers this year since we go in order anyways. I recommend you do the numbers at the end then you don’t need to open the jars anymore and you’re able to have the numbers laid out all in the same direction. It’s just a cleaner look than some numbers upside down.
Isn’t it beautiful!
What is in ours
- Get a real Christmas Tree
- Get Cookies and Milk out for Santa
- Build a snowman (If there is no snow I get them to craft one)
- Go read Christmas books at the library
- Watch a Christmas movie (2)
- Donate Something (2)
- Christmas Craft (2)(if you put these be prepared for them Michael’s has some really simple kits for kids you can get in advance)
- Play out in the snow
- Have hot chocolate
- Go look at Scugog houses
- Go Sledding
- Do a Christmas theme science experiment
- Go to the movies
- Mail Christmas cards
- Go see Santa
- Ice Skating
- Candy (3)
Some of these are soooo easy which will be a good break for you, let them go out and play while you relax inside not all of these things you have to do. Weekend ones are typically full involvement this is why they have to be done on a weekend. I hope this inspires you to design your own advent Calendar.