Holiday DIY: Advent Garland

Anne of In Residence is doing a “Holiday Pinspiration” reader feature today. Be sure to check out this idea and more over at her fabulous blog.

I love the idea of an Advent Calendar. I remember getting one when I was little, and what a joy it was to open up that little door and be surprised with a piece of chocolate. I’m sure I wasn’t patient enough to eat only one chocolate per day (who can do that?) but regardless, the concept always intrigued me.

This year I decided to make an Advent calendar for Aaron and me. I knew I wanted it to be a little different though, with a combination of treats and fun activities we can do together. Last year I loved the “12 Dates of Christmas” Elsie and her husband did at A Beautiful Mess, so I decided to incorporate that idea into our calendar. 

I went to Michael's with an outline of what I wanted, but didn’t really have the specifics in mind. I saw some pine cone and berry-bedecked garland on sale, so I bought some miniature clothes pins and ribbon to attach each surprise.

We’ve been having so much fun opening up each day’s treat, it definitely gives us something to look forward to in this busy and often stressful time of year.

How to make your own Advent garland:

Supplies needed:

garland (any kind will do as long as you can attach clothespins to it)
paper in different colors/patterns
small paper sacks to hold candy or small objects (I used 9)
clothespins (I used miniature ones, but larger ones would work too)
stickers to decorate paper and bags (optional)
small candy and treats to fill bags
hole punch
hammer and nails (to hang the garland)

1. It’s easiest if you plan your Advent calendar before you start making it. You’ll want a combination of dates/activities and candy or other inexpensive treats. I raided the $1 section of Target for the non-food treats; no need to spend a bunch of money! I also kept the dates affordable, things like going to Sonic for a happy hour soda or going on a walk together. I looked at my calendar when I was planning this out so that we could do the things that took more time (baking cookies, for example) on the weekends. Write out each day’s treat or activity, from one to twenty-five.

2. Using your list, count the number of days you have with activities (I had 16). You will need one piece of paper for each. I just took construction paper, folded it in half “hot dog” style and then cut it into equal pieces. On the outside, write the number of the day, and on the inside, write the activity. Decorate it as you please.

3. For the remaining days, write each day’s number on the outside of a small paper sack. Fill the sacks with either candy (one per person in your household) or an inexpensive gift. Fold down the top of the sack, punch a hole, and then string some pretty ribbon through the hole.

4. Lay out the garland on a flat surface, then arrange all the days in order. Do this so that you can get an idea of how to space out the papers and bags.

5. Hang the garland on a wall, making sure there’s space beneath it.

6. Going in order (I suppose you can go out of order, but don’t tell me about it!) attach the paper days with clothespins, and tie the sacks to the garland with ribbon.

7. On December 1st, start counting down the days until Christmas! 

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