DIY Advent Calendar (last minute)

reading time: ca. 5 min

Whoop-whoop, another DIY coming your way :) 

This time it's a tutorial for a last minute DIY Advent Calendar for your kids, grand kids, siblings, boyfriend, girlfriend, family or friends. As part of my Day Zero Project and also because i will be in South Africa throughout most of December, including Christmas, so instead of a single present for each i crafted an advent calendar for my flatmates to share - which is a) inexpensive, b) easy to make, and c) personal and fun. 

I'm actually so excited for this post, not only because of the effort i put into it (probably a solid 24 hours altogether), but also because i made this as a surprise for my flatmates, and i can't wait to see their faces when they open the bags. I love giving presents or surprising others! (and also receiving them of course)

An Advent Calendar can be many things: It can be a rectangular card with "windows", opening to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story, a toy or a chocolate item. It can be made of toilet paper rolls, jars, cans, little cardboard boxes, envelopes, (baby) socks, fabric pockets, plant pots or matchboxes.  

Up until my 18th birthday my mom used to make me an advent calendar made of hand sown fabric bags filled with little gifts and sweets, tied to a ribbon which she pin down to the wall. (see below)

However, i don't have the material nor the sowing skills of my mom, so i decided to come up with a low-budget "student-appropriate" version for my flat mates. 

You need:
- 24 paper sandwich bags
- ribbon (or clothes pins)
- cardboard (white and colourful)
- scissors (or stencils)
- glue
- fillers (chocolate and/or little gifts and/or activities)
- optional: 24 small napkins 

Step 01

Cut out 24 circles, or any other shape you prefer, such as stars, squares etc., from your colourful cardboard. You could use a glass or a bottle to achieve your desired circular shape. I chose 13 different colours because it looked nicer than a uniform colour to me. But do as you like.

Also, cut out your numbers (13x 1, 8x 2, 3x 3, 3x 4, and 2x each 5,6,7,8,9 and 0) from white cardboard

Glue your numbers onto your prepared cardboard circles. 

Step 02

After the glue from the number label has dried, glue the numbered cardboard circles onto the front of the sandwich paper bags. You could also use double sided tape for this, or actually sew the circles onto the paper bags!

Step 03 

Now - the fillers. There's an infinite number of gift ideas for an advent calendar (as long as they will fit into the bags), but to give you some more inspiration, here's what i chose for fillers:
- chocolate
- mixed sweets
- decoration (candles, tree ornaments, Santa Clause figurine...)
- cookie cutters for baking
- mini shampoo bottles
- German incense smoker + incense cones
- cough sweets
- bookmark
- spread
- toys
- pens
- a music CD
- a small book
- garlic crusher (we badly need one for our flat, haha!)
- cone sugar for making flaming fire tongs punch
- a sushi set
- a gingerbread house set (for the 24th)
- "coupons" for activities (watching the Star Wars movie in theatres, baking cookies, making sushi, organizing a karaoke night, making ice cream, building a gingerbread house...)
Check out my list of 24 Ways to Get Into the Christmas Spirit for some more inspiration!

Step 04

Fill the prepared paper bags with your fillers. Since my paper bags were quite translucent, i wrapped my presents in a small Christmas-red napkin. Also, three or four of my presents wouldn't fit into the paper bags, so i wrapped them in Christmas wrapping paper and glued the number and some sweets on it. 

Also, since i made the calendar for several people, i wrote down their names on little labels and attached those to the bags, so that each of my flatmates would open the bags in turns.

Lastly, tie up your bags with a ribbon, or use a clothes pin to seal them. Then attach them to a cord and pin it to the wall. And there you have it: your last minute DIY Advent Calendar! :)

Good luck ~


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