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Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 | 4 comments

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Handmade Advent Calendars to Use Year After Year

Every year, I think I’d like to make an advent calendar to use year after year. I finally did, but just under the wire. I finished it Friday night, the last day of November. Katie got in on the action too and made one to hang on Saturday, the first day on the countdown to Christmas.

Katie’s Upcycled Advent Calendar

The goal for my Advent calendar was to use supplies I had on hand and spend as little money as possible. My inspiration came from pinterest using clothespins and small packages made out of paper. I had to buy the clothespins, but that was okay because I can find other uses for them after Advent.

I wanted to secure the clothespins to a board, but I didn’t have a piece of scrap wood the right size, so I opted to use an empty picture frame and some string. To secure the string to the frame, I purchased 6 picture framing hooks from the hardware store for $.37/each.

I followed an origami tutorial to make the envelopes. The paper was from an old 2011 calendar that I found last year in the deep discount section of Paper Source in Old Town. I bought the calendar at the end of the year with the idea that I would repurpose the colorful pages for craft projects.



I also used plain red and green cardstock we had in our art cabinet and glued mini snowflakes on each one


Every day, the kids will find chocolate coins in each envelope. I ran out of time to be creative with the treats, but the coins from Trader Joe’s are just fine. After opening each one, we flip the envelope and clothespin upside down so you can easily tell what day you are on.


Although I needed to purchase a few supplies, I made good use out of an unused picture frame (the glass broke when I tried to frame something a few years ago) and the remnants of a 2011 calendar. Using cardstock means the envelopes are very sturdy and should be usable next year as well. After Christmas, we might keep the frame up on the wall and use it to post photos and postcards.

Leslie’s Felt Advent Calendar


I love the contemporary, clean look of this pattern from the Purl Bee. And now that I feel more confident in my sewing skills since I had a lesson from Katie, and I love embroidery, I went for it.

I bought the felt for the pockets on Etsy. Then, I hand embroidered the numbers before sewing the pockets just as the pattern called for.



I taped the pockets to the backing leaving about 3 inches in between rows to make room for presents to stick out of the top. I then sewed the pockets onto the back.


I doubled up the two pieces of wool felt that I bought for the backing and added a blanket stitch around the sides. Then, I sewed a couple of tabs to the top and stuck in a knitting needle to use for the hanger (just like in the pattern).

I’m buying little gifts a few at at time for the girls, like peppermint lip gloss, Japanese character erasers, stick-on star earrings, and candy. I put the gifts in at night for them to find in the morning. I couldn’t trust the youngest to keep her hands off the pockets if I filled in all of the days ahead of time!

Have you been busy making an Advent calendar? Do you have any Christmas traditions you celebrate year after year?


  1. My wife just made a calendar out of corks and twine. It’s very cool — an instant keepsake!

    • We’d love to see a picture of it, Dan!

  2. I was inspired by the Pinterest clothes pin picture as well! My kids and I cut out ribbon (from the Target dollar bin) and glued it onto clothes pins to jazz them up a bit. We strung two pieces of twine and hung an envelope (leftover from last year’s Christmas cards) numbered 1-25. Each one has a Christmasy thing we can do that day (everything from ride the Santa Train to cut-out snowflakes to decorate the playroom). Each also includes a quick sentence to hopefully spark some conversations about what we are thankful for–friends, family, nature, health, etc. We’re all loving it! I, too, was working on it at the 11th hour, but realized I don’t have to fill all 25 envelopes now, I just have to make sure it is done the night before each number :)

    • This is awesome! Love the idea of having something to do/be thankful for each day. Going to borrow these ideas!

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