Handmade Christmas: Advent Calendar

Every year I feast on all the goodness Thanksgiving has to offer and I smile as I think of the coming Christmas season. When kids came into the picture the idea of setting up holiday tradition gained importance and I dreamed of ways to make their holidays both meaningful and mindful. I wanted to make sure they had memories to look back on fondly, that their little hearts burst with joy from gifts given and received, and that [most importantly] they understood why we were celebrating.

So, every year as I did this thinking with my belly fully of turkey I’d think, “Oh, we should do an advent calendar.” But, you know, it’s Thanksgiving: there are dishes to be washed, gift shopping to brave, and halls to deck. I always think of it too late. So this year I committed: We’re going to do an advent calendar. And I’m going to make it. And I’m going to tell my sister what I’m doing so she can hold me accountable [isn’t that what older sisters are for!?].

With just enough pride and excitement for the impending season, here’s what I came up with.

I started with a neutral backdrop because I wanted this calendar to match the decor of our house [we’ve got a blue, tan, brown thing going]. The tan is actually a piece of a painter’s drop cloth that I removed the plastic backing from. So I serged the edges of my tan guy. I didn’t measure, I actually just cut the biggest piece I could from the drop cloth, left over from another project. The final project ended up being about 13 inches wide by 33 inches long.

I also serged a piece of blue lightweight upholstery fabric 9 1/2 inches wide by 28 1/2 inches long. I took my blue fabric and had my lovely husband with dreamy handwriting [I know!] write out the numbers one through twenty-five in lower-case cursive. I put that into an embroidery hoop and went to town. I’m no hand embroidery whiz [I like to do a lot of things marginally well. Insert a winky faced emoticon here.] but my goal was to not spend all of my time embroidering the words. I tried to meet at the intersection of cute enough and quick enough. After the embroidery was done [it took about four nights of post-bedtime tv watching] I sewed the blue fabric to the tan. I did so by using a zigzag stitch over the serged edge in the same color thread. I didn’t want to distract from the serged edges.

I used the red thread to sew a couple evergreens on top. I was inspired by this tutorial for hanging a map to come up with the dowel situation.

So I went back and forth for how to “point” to the days. I considered sewing lines between each of the words before I attached the blue to the tan to create pockets on the right side. I also considered sewing a button beside each word and having something that attached to it [still considering that]. But for now, because projects looming more than a week make me twitch and project making time is slim, I made a felt star and attached a magnet to the back. To make it I first cut out two stars from grey felt. I used those as a guide to cut out two smaller stars from quilt batting and then I used a whip stitch [here’s an example] to sew it up.

[I just noticed, looking at this picture, that somebody knocked the frame off the blue books and gave ’em a shake. Landon, I’m looking at you, kid.]

Here’s the calendar hanging out underneath our acorn display and next to the bookcase. It’s going to be a lot of fun to move the star down each day. To engage the kids we’re going to try out the Truth in Tinsel e-book with a cousin [maybe some skype crafting playdates!].

I also like The Activity Mom’s Advent Activity Links. So I think we’ll be adding some of those in, too.

Anyone else feeling the joy, yet? I’m ready to get that tree up. Let’s celebrate!

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7 thoughts on “Handmade Christmas: Advent Calendar

  1. Angela says:

    I was just talking to Tom last night about pitting together an advent calendar. Mine will definitely not be this cute! Way to go!! :)

    • heybethbaker says:

      I would have bought one but they all seemed cartoony. Michael’s sells some unfinished wooden trees with pull out drawers. If I had space on a shelf that would have been fun.

  2. Jessica says:

    Looks like we need to be in a Jills Anonymous Group together….lol. I’m still trying to decide what we’re going to do this year. Trutb Behind the Tinsel is high on my list, as is The Jesse Tree and this study of the Names of Jesus. http://www.spelloutloud.com/2011/11/names-of-jesus-advent-chain/

  3. Love that you’re so big on tradition, and that I can give you time to dream them up!

  4. Caroline N. says:

    Beth Baker, you made the acorn display! That is on my list for next fall. I have to beat the squirrels up at Brian’s office. Thanks for your blog. I look forward to reading it all. Hope to catch you at Thanksgiving. We are staying in Mexico, but driving up to Bowling Green to see Brian’s family for lunch. Safe travels.

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