Making an Advent Calendar

Category Decorations
There are many commercial advent calendars you can buy to count down the days until Christmas, but why not make one yourself. This is a page about making an advent calendar.


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When our boys were too small to understand what an advent calendar was I still wanted a way for them to be able to count the days until Christmas.

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 Ann Winberg from Loup City, NE

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This advent calendar was made by stretching and stapling a spare piece of fabric over an old paint canvas. The pouches were made from felt using a simple whip stitch and secured to the canvas with hot glue. The numbered dates were stitched. A variety of old buttons were hot glued on the pouches for decorative purposes.


A small gift can be placed into each pouch. A simple and thrifty alternative to more expensive advent calendars out there.

By April from Albany, GA

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Have your kids pick out 24 of their favorite candies from trick-or-treating. Make a Christmas countdown calendar (very simply made with a piece of cardboard, decorated with rubber stamps, scraps of wrapping paper, or giftwrap paper; tape each candy or treat on it).

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A craft the kids can make and enjoy every day until Christmas. A tradition in the making.

Advent Garland

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Start an easy Advent calendar or winter countdown! Cut out two large white construction paper circles. Have child draw a snowman face on one...

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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.


October 23, 20080 found this helpful

If you are up for an advent calender that doesn't hang on the wall, try this: Get 24 large matchboxes(the kind that have part that slides out of a sleeve) Cover each sleeve piece on three sides with felt, fabric or paper. You can even line the inside of each too. Glue a small bead to one short side of the slide out part and number from one to 24 beside the knob.


Glue together side by side and in stacks ie(first row about 8 or 9 across, on top of that, one less box at each end; continue in the same way until you have one box at the top, #24)with bead knobs facing all the same way. Put a little toy or small ornament in each box.

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October 23, 20080 found this helpful

I made these for my kids when they were little, they used them for many years.
I bought a piece of quilted Christmas material, sewed red ribbon on the sides and bottom to give a finished edge
I wrote the poem at the bottom on a piece of white material with fabric paint, then sewed it to the bottom of the piece


I sewed a small square piece of green material above that and stitched 24 ribbons
(@6inches long, stitch in the middle of the ribbon) on to the piece of material in a triangle to resemble a tree.
Attach a bell at the top of the tree
Fold over the top about 2 inches and sew, so you can slip in a small dowel.
Attach a ribbon to the ends of the dowel with tacks so you can hang them on the wall.
Make sure you space the ribbons far enough apart to be able to tie the candies on

Buy some small toys, candy, or even poems rolled up and tie one to each ribbon.

Here is the poem to attach to the bottom. I used fabric paint, but you can cross stitch or anything you want

December 1st until Christmas
Is the longest time of the year.
It seems as though old Santa
Never will appear.

How many days until Christmas?
It's mighty hard to count.
So these shiny ribbons
Will tell you the exact amount.


Untie a ribbon every night
When the sandman casts his spell
And Christmas Eve will be here,
By the time you reach the bell!

The kids still have them tucked away in their keepsake boxes

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By Tara (Guest Post)
November 13, 20080 found this helpful

I decided this year to make (or buy) small boxes to wrap & put #'s on. Inside each box will be something to do as a family (watch the Christmas Story, bake cookies, drink hot chocolate, listen to christmas music, string popcorn and hang outside for the birds, read Isaiah 9:1-6, play scrabble, watch frosty the snowman, etc). I will either put the wrapped numbered boxes in a basket, or on a small tree, or decorate a wreath. Each morning, my kids can find the box with the correct number (#25 starts on Dec 1) in the morning when they wake up & unwrap it to see what fun thing we will be doing that evening as a family. It will give them something to think about throughout the day.

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By katie (Guest Post)
November 18, 20080 found this helpful

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By Susan T. (Guest Post)
November 29, 20080 found this helpful

I bought a nail holder at the local store in the hardward section. The larger one has exactly 24 drawers that you can pull out and they're larger than the standard wood calendar drawers. I put slips of paper that are similar to previous ideas shared, e.g., wear red today, light the advent candle on Sunday, etc. Hope this helps and Merry Christmas

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By Meg (Guest Post)
November 29, 20080 found this helpful

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.

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Answer this Question...

January 20, 2020

Make your own custom Advent calendar for your Christmas countdown. Using homemade burlap bags, fill the daily bags with candy or a special message.

Three  burlap bags on a string, to use as an Advent calendar.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

October 22, 2008

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


Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

My mom used to make mine out of a piece of green poster board. She'd draw a calendar on it, then punch two holes in the square for each day. Lace a bit of red ribbon through the holes to tie on a treat (a candy cane, small toy, message written on rolled up paper, etc.). You might not be able to use this year after year, but very simple to make. (11/15/2004)

By Lynn

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

Hi Debra,
I've looked online for some ideas and have found some great online sites for online advent calendars but not a lot for the type of thing you are trying to make. I figured out how you could make one out of toilet paper tubes. You could even cut them in half if there was a backboard of some type so that the contents wouldn't fall out. Then put some kind of cap or paper over each opening once the "prize" was inside. It would fit a car, small toy or candy.

You could wrap each tube in pretty paper and put the number at the end. You are so crafty I think it would work. If you wanted to do something bigger than that, you could use cans or some kind of little boxes with a lid and stack them like these to make a tree shape.

If you start with a base of 6, stack 5 onto that in the spaces between, then 4, then 3, then 2, then one that makes 21. If you use two stacks of 2 for the trunk of the three it adds up to 25. I posted a pattern of the diagram on your original post.

I'm not sure how you would make it stand up. Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth. Good luck and let us know what you make.

Susan from ThriftyFun (11/15/2004)

By ThriftyFun

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

When I was a kid my gramma made a wall hanging advent calendar. A large rectangle of felt with a felt tree on it, and small velcro squares attached all over. on the bottom were 24 small pockets each with a different ornament and a piece of paper with a description of the significance or that ornament. the last ornament placed every year was the angel at the top of the tree.

This was so much fun for us as kids, my sister and I used to love getting up to put the next ornament on the tree. It is truely a great childhood memory for us. I think it would be very economical to make something similar. megan AT (11/15/2004)

By Megan E

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

In my house we have a great family advent calendar that we've used for years. I believe it was handmade by a family friend years back. It's sewed like a small quilt and has two children standing on stools hanging ornaments on either side of a large green velcro tree. Below are 25 pockets, each embroidered with the number, and each with small Christmas themed ornaments to stick on the tree. Each have a piece of velcro on the back. It really is a beautiful thing, and it must of taken a while to complete such a project.

I think another good idea would be to make a sort of wooden tree and flip up the ends of the branches like hooks and each day hang miniature ornaments on them. (11/21/2004)

By Mish

Follow up on the Advent Calendar

First I would like to thank everyone who wrote in with their suggestions for my Advent Calendar for my Grand kids. I read everyone with great interest and I combined a lot of the ideas I got from you guys in making my own. Susan suggested using paper towel or paper tubes. That got me to thinking what other tubes that I could use that would be more durable then paper and of course I thought of PVC. So I went and bought a PVC pipe that was 4 inches in diameter and had my Husband cut me length's that were that were 5 inches long. I chose that big a pipe so that I could stick in knitted gloves or a pair of socks if I wanted.

Then I took Susan's Diagram and glued all the tubes together with white Silicone. I clamped them together until they were dry. Then I painted the top triangle green and the base brown.

Then I cut out circles of cardboard and covered them with fabric. I used stick on numbers to put on the dates. Someone else suggest velcro and I really liked that idea so I put little velcro circles on the back and the edges of the pipe.

I hot glued a dollar store stuffed Santa to the top. I left the back open so I could put in longer items in that would hang from the back and since I am going to put this on a table against a wall so it works great. I hope this gives any one else who would like to make a Advent Calendar an idea of how to go about it. Again thank you so very much for everyone's ideas.

By Debra in Colorado (12/05/2004)

By ThriftyFun

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

Have you found an advent calendar? I actually hand make them. It is a Christmas tree made of wood with small handmade/hand painted clay ornaments(24) to decorate the tree with. I've been making them for family and friends for years (started making them with my mom). They are usually tailored for the receiver (sports toys, farm animals etc mixed with the traditional Christmas pieces. It takes over 20 hours or so to make one but they turn out quite nicely. If you're interested please email me talontedk8 @ (remove spaces) (08/07/2005)

By Kate

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

Well, 3 Military tours in Germany finally pay off!
I saw many designs there for them.

1. Use a shadowbox frame, and partition it off into 5 rows of 5 squares. (I would use a thin light wood, but heavy cardboard will work. Cover each square with a "door". You can use old Christmas card cutouts, or fabric squares. Glue the door along the top of the square, and tie shut on the bottom. Make a "tie" with 2 ribbons. One glued to the door, and one to the square edge. Place a toy or candy treat in each square.

2. I made my own with Felt. I made a Santa and sliegh cutout, and sewed it to a large "wall hanging" piece of cloth. (Like a quilt applique) I used a wood dowel,(stick works), and folded the top of the cloth over it and sewed.(think curtain rod) I hung it by ribbon, from the dowel ends. When I sewed the sleigh on, I left the top open like a pocket. Using red felt, I made 25 small "Santa Sacks" for each child, with drawstrings to close. I put the toys or treats into each sack. Each day I placed one into the sleigh to be opened. (With 3 kids, I had 75 "Sacks", and put 3 in each day, one for each child. That way I could use one Advent for all 3. Names on sacks with black marker kept down squabbles, and let me do "boy / girl" toys.)

Now with Grandchildren, I came up with pink and blue sacks and skipped the names.
You can use many themes for this one. (Tree with tied on "presents" is another one I use.
You can make an individual one for each child also, and try to get all 25 on there at once.
Hope this helps. (08/28/2005)

By Brenda Chavis

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I made an advent garland, which is easy, and cost me less than $4.00. Here is how. I bought 9x12 sheets of felt at the craft store (you can use any non-fraying fabric though, suede, velvet, fleece) and cut them into 3, 3'' strips to make into baggies. I stenciled 1-25 on the front with silver fabric paint markers. Attach ribbons to the top as handles, and you have adorable advent bags that you can hang on a wreath, garland wrapped around a staircase, small nails on a wall in the shape of a calendar, on the tree, anywhere. And will last forever. Hope that helps. (11/28/2005)

By Karlene

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I think instead of sticking with a theme like ornaments or a chocolate a day you could mix it up a bit. One day you could have a recipe for that day like chocolate chip cookies and you could help make them with your grandchildren. The next day you could have an ornament to hang on the tree or help them make an ornament. Try and make it interactive with them I think they would enjoy it and remember it forever. (11/06/2006)

By Cindy

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

Recently I saw a great idea for an Advent Calendar. It was a 24 cup muffin/cupcake tin! How cute is that? It was painted a solid color then little designs painted on the sides around the cup areas. Christmas cards/card stock/fabric were covering chipboard or cardboard that had been cut to fit each cup opening. The top of each cover was attached with double sided red line tape and the bottom with removable tape. That way it would be easy to open to retrieve the daily treat inside.

Each circle had a number stamped on. Rub-ons could be used as well. A festive Christmas ribbon was attached to the top for hanging. This could be decorated in a number of ways and otherwise adapted to suit your personal taste. I'm going to make one and I think I'll use velcro pieces for the bottom of the circles for easy opening/closing. (11/05/2007)

By Shauna

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

You could get 24 or 25 different colored socks and hang them with clothes pins to a string across your mantle place. Then you fill each one with whatever you like and in the 25th one have something for everyone! (11/18/2007)

By iloveharrypotter

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

My mother made a tree out of wood. This tree was about six feet tall. Then she'd actually wrap little things (like candy bags, etc) and staple them to her tree. I have three sisters, so this worked very well for us. (11/19/2007)

By Lilith

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

You can draw a Santa face on a piece of construction paper. Glitter it up for more color. Make Santa's beard into 24 little circles. Each night glue a cotton ball onto one of the circles. Nice and cheap- and by Christmas, Santa has a full beard! (11/29/2007)

By Kim

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

Just get match boxes or any other little boxes and ask them to paint it or cut out pictures to glue on there. Then fill the box with a small cookie.
You could also have a nativity set that you give a part of it each day prior to Christmas. Then on Christmas give them a present with baby Jesus inside. Then tell them the story about Jesus. (12/02/2007)

By Hannah

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I'm actually looking for one exactly like in the movie "deck the halls". Watch the movie if you think you can make that email me. It's in the very beginning. It's beautiful, but instead of opening for gifts, it swivels with what do do that day. (12/20/2007)


Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I make quilted advent calendars for the grand kid families. Now I am being asked to make for great gk families. I use ideas out of make it for Christmas and or wood patterns that can be made out of fabric. (07/05/2008)


Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I am wondering if the lady who makes the Christmas Trees is still making them, as I would be interested in one. I have been looking for ages for one. I have tried to email her but the email keeps bouncing back her old email was talontedk8 @ I really hope you can help. (08/07/2008)

By Christine

Need Ideas for an Advent Calendar

I'm trying the same thing as you. My plan it to create a big house, decorated for Christmas, with 12 windows on each side, and a grand front door for Christmas Day. Just make Christmas day special and then 24 can be arranged in any way. Would love to hear what you decide. (10/13/2008)

By Dennis

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