Now that my 3-year old daughter Maya is totally getting the idea of Christmas (we have had jingle bells on repeat in the car since November 1st), I figured it was time that I make a DIY advent calendar for her to enjoy.
I wanted one that was reusable and that I could fill up with a mixture of treats, little gifts, and also messages with activities to do together (“go see the neighbourhood xmas lights”, “make a christmas card for ___”, “find a toy to donate”, etc.).
I fell in love with the ones I had seen made from muslin cloth bags so decided to go with that idea. I loved how classic and sweet it was. Plus bonus points for being so easy to make and pack up for storage during the year!
Here’s What You’ll Need:
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- Small Muslin Cloth Bags – You want to go for around 3 x 5 in size, give or take a little (much bigger than that will make it seriously big to string)
- Here are the muslin bags with the little red drawstrings like I used.
- Buuuuut … here are some ridiculously sweet ones that have black drawstrings (I’m ordering them next time – perfect for any scandi style decorating!) or just plain white drawstrings.
- Numbers Stamp Set – I couldn’t find regular rubber stamps with large enough numbers, so instead I used stamps that you peel off and stick onto an acrylic block to use. The ones I used were from Michael’s, but I found this stamp set that looks really similar. You also need to get an acrylic block to affix the stamp to.
- Permanent Stamping Ink – I made several of these advent calendars and tried out both red and black (they both look great!)
- Here is the black stamping pad, and you’ll see all the colors listed beside it from the same brand.
- Twine/String – This is to hang your calendar. Choose the style that suits your design scheme!
- Basic jute (what I used)
- Red twine
- Black and white baker’s twine
It’s an incredible easy tutorial. I almost feel a little bit silly writing it out ….
Step 1: Lay out Bags
It’ll be a lot easier if you lay out all your bags onto a big work surface. Otherwise you might get muddled up on which numbers you have and haven’t done.
Step 2: Stamp Bags
Here’s my tip to make it a little quicker and easier if you are using the same type of acrylic block stamps like I did. Do everything with a 1 first (so: 1, 10-19, 21). Then do all the 2’s (2, 12, 20-25). Then all the 3’s (3, 13, 23). Etc. You need to keep track of them as you go, but overall it made it a lot faster – especially if you are making several.
Although I read about putting a piece of cardboard into your bag when you stamp it, I did a few test runs and found that the ink doesn’t actually come through. No need to have a backing.
Step 2b Optional: Iron
If you wanted to be really sure that the ink had set, you can take out your iron and go on top of each bag for a few seconds. I made a few calendars – one where I did this and others where I didn’t. I haven’t noticed a difference between them, but if it’s going to give you more peace of mind, then go for it!
Step 3: Hang up in your house!
You need a fairly long string to hang all the bags from. I used a jute string, but you could use a coloured twine or baker’s twine. Pretty much whatever goes with your overall design look.
See what I mean about it being easy? The most annoying part is cleaning up the acrylic block afterwards and the ink that got on your hands (wear gloves! I wish I had!).
I love the way it looks along our fireplace mantle (FYI – I pull it up on top of the mantle when we have a fire going).
If you don’t have a mantle, you could tie the string anywhere in your house that made sense – on a window, even with tape on the wall, on a dresser, etc. I have also seen folks use clothespins to hang the bags instead of tying them. Totally up to you!
The two mini trees that I used to anchor the strings with came from IKEA (about $15 each). I don’t think we’re going to be able to do an actual real tree this year, as James is pulling up on EVERYTHING. I have visions of it falling on top of him. I’m trying to come up with lots of fun alternatives though so the house still looks super festive.
I made some of these calendars to give away as gifts and to sell at an upcoming pop-up shop.
Wrap them up with some string, loop a bunch of twine to go with the bags, and then put a little label on. So adorable, right?
What about you guys? Do you do advent calendars with your kids? Or buy a chocolate one for yourself (don’t worry… I won’t tell!)?