While we were decorating our tree, the boys had chosen to put candy canes on it. Then it came to me, why not put one on it for each of our two sons for each day until Christmas? When the last candy cane was left they knew the next day was Christmas. It didn't matter when we put up our tree we just counted the number of days left and adjusted.
Of course those first years, the bottom of the tree was a little heavy with the candy canes compared to the top where they couldn't reach, but what did it matter? It worked great and we started a new tradition at our house.
One year after they were gone from home, I had decided not to put to candy canes on the "fancy" tree. One of the boys stopped by, he told me point blank something was missing. Even with lace and bows, the candy canes were required decorations at our house, and I am so glad they remembered.
Source: My sons and I, 30 years ago.
By latrtatr from Loup City, NE
By April from Albany, GA
When your kids finish their dinner each night, beginning with Dec. 1 through Dec. 24, they get to pick a treat from their own countdown calendar. It's fun to see how many spaces are left each night, and it really gets exciting to anticipate Christmas Eve as the board shows fewer and fewer treats!
Source: Have been doing this for many years!
By Casey from Allen, TX
You will need to cut 24 1x7 inch strips of several fabric scraps. Cut 24 1x6 inch strips of felt, matching the fabric scraps if you want.
Glue your felt strips to the fabric strips starting at one end. Let the glue dry. If you are accustomed to making buttonholes, you can now put a buttonhole in the end of each strip where the felt is short, as shown in the photo. If not, sew or glue one half of a pair of hook and loop dot sets to each end. To make sure you get a set, do one loop at a time or lay them all out and do one end with the hook side, then turn the loops all over and do the other end of all the loops with the loop end.
If you did the buttonhole closure and have a collection of old buttons, have the kids choose the buttons and paint or decorate them if they want while you are making the buttonholes. Of course they might find a few they just have to use that are a different size so you might want to wait to see what size buttonholes you will need. You could adjust your strips wider if you have larger buttons on hand instead of buying some. Check out Goodwill and the clearance bins, Dollar Stores and such. You could use big safety pins or diaper pins if you have a new baby in the house or just happen to have some around. Use your imagination and have fun with the kids. Sew the buttons on the opposite end and side of the buttonhole.
Now is the fun part. For each of the 24 strips you need a message to attach on the inside. You can use an activity planned for that day such as making Christmas cookies or candy, or a visit to a person you know who is a shut in or not feeling well. Maybe you will want to give the kids a day off now and then by hiding a pre-Christmas gift: barrettes or a matchbox car, maybe just a candy bar or a rental on a movie. Let each child pick their favorite food for the main dish that evening. Maybe you could all sit down and share a memory from Christmas past. My sister got a letter from our great aunt at Christmas one year telling us things about our mother we didn't know and she read it to us at our "share a memory" time. You might be surprised what memories are important to your children. Just write your message on paper heavy enough that you can't read it form the back.
You can attach them to the inside of each link, taping or stapling so they can't peek ahead of time. This is the only part you won't want to let the kids help with so it is a surprise to them each day. If you were going to put your garland up where they can't or won't reach it, taping would be fine. However, why put that much temptation in front of them? I would staple them to start with. Santa is watching, you know!
It will be great fun for the youngsters to wait and see what is in the next link and make counting down the days until Christmas more fun. In years to come, all you have to do is change the message or mix them up. The staples won't hurt the fabric.
As I always say and try to do myself, it doesn't matter if the project comes out perfect, as long as the children had fun. Besides, we made a memory with them one more time.
The basic idea came from the The World Encyclopedia of Christmas.
By Ann from Loup City, NE
Any ideas on how to make a homemade advent calender? I want to make one my daughter can keep for a couple of years. I am open to it being made out of about anything cloth, wood, etc.
I just thought of a fun and easy way to make an advent calendar. Go to a thrift store or dollar store and buy 13 pairs of children/baby mittens. Using clothesline pins clip one glove on a pin then pin to a ribbon or decorative cord. You can use fabric paint or perm. markers to number the gloves then hang from your banister or around a doorway, or even the mantel or garland for your tree. (They can be stuffed w/ candy, inspirational notes, toys etc.) Kick it up a notch and paint the pins too or number the pins instead of the mittens.
I am desperately seeking an idea for a Advent Calendar. I know the old paper chain trick but I am looking to make something that will last a lifetime and will be used for making a new family tradition in our home especially for my grand kids. I thought about making a box with small holes but 25 doesn't work out evenly for the shape of a tree or anything but a 5 by 5 box. I would like it to be big enough that I could maybe put a small toy (hot wheels) in so when each grandson takes a turn opening the door there would be a surprise. Come on Thrifty Tippers I need some ideas! - Debra in Colorado
By Megan E
By MARIANNE B
By GMA JO