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Thursday, November 13, 2014

DIY Christmas Advent Calendar! [PLUS Christmas Activity Ideas!]

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar

Christmas is fast approaching and we are getting seriously excited. When I was a kid, this is the time of year when I started begging my Mum for one of those chocolate advent calendars. 

I'd anxiously wait until December 1st and open that little window to reveal my sweet chocolate treat.... But the truth is, by about December 6th I'd realise that the chocolate inside actually wasn't that great and the advent calendar totally wasn't worth all of my anticipation.

That's why we now create our own anticipation-worthy advent calendars!

I wanted to show your how to create your own advent calendar, filled with Christmas activities and delicious treats that will have your family anxiously awaiting each new day - so let me show you 

How to Make your Own Easy to Make DIY Advent Calendar >>
How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from a Cork Board

Before you do anything, you'll need to get your supplies!

What You'll Need:
  • 1x Large Cork Board ($14 at The Reject Shop) 
  • 1x Reel of String/Bakers Twine (I used Christmas Cord which was $2.50 a roll at The Reject Shop)
  • 24x Loot Bags/Small Envelopes (I used 2x 12 Pack Party Bags for this project which were $3 a pack)
  • 24x Pegs ($2.50 for 80 Wooden Pegs at The Reject Shop which we sprayed with silver glitter spray paint - you could also use glue and glitter from TRS)
  • 1x Set of our DIY Advent Calendar Printables which you can download here (includes Number Tags, Notes for inside the bags and a Christmas Organiser to plan your activities)
  • Push pins to attach your strings 
  • Scissors, glue/sticky tape and pens to write your activity notes
Total Cost of Supplies: $25
plus the cost of push pins/glue/scissors/sticky tape etc if you don't already have them.

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from a Cork Board

Free Advent Calendar PrintablesOnce you've got all of your supplies, it's time to get everything ready! You'll want to print and cut out your printables if you haven't already - and you'll want to figure out where you're going to put your advent calendar (as this will decide whether you're going to have it vertical or horizontal!). 

Once you've decided which way your advent calendar will go, decide on how many lines of bags/envelopes you're going to have on your advent calendar so that you can cut the strings to size.

We decided on five lines to hold our 24 bags, folding each bag in half so that they fit perfectly!

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from a Cork Board

Then it's time to hang your lines! We first measured out how much cord we needed for each line (as well as how far apart we wanted to space them to fit our bags) and then cut and pinned them onto the board.

If using Christmas cord like we did, you'll want to sticky tape each of the cut ends tightly so that the cord doesn't unravel - and then stick your pin through that sticky taped part into your boards.

We found that the cords stayed best when we also pinned the cord down in the middle of the board (we pinned each cord 1/3 in from each edge for support) - and if you're filling your bags with heavier items, stick one pin into the back of the bag to hold them in place (or simply use the note to explain the day's treat and keep them separate like we did!)

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from a Cork Board

Once everything is ready, it's time to fill your bags! We placed one note in every bag explaining the day's treat/activity. 

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from a Cork BoardIn your downloadable printable pack you'll find a Christmas organiser (shown on the right) which will help you plan out your Christmas activities. 

When planning our calendar and activities, I first filled this up with dates of what we had on and then worked out when we'd do our different activities and then stuck the sheet into my planner so I knew what was happening on each day 

Why? Because you don't want to tell your family you're making Christmas Cookies only to find out you've got X Y & Z planned and no flour in the cupboard!

Christmas Activity Ideas for the Family - New Christmas Traditions

Stuck for ideas? Here are some fun Christmas Activity Ideas that the whole family will love!
    How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from The Reject Shop
- Decorate The Christmas Tree 
We always do this on the 1st of December, but if you decorate your tree earlier, you can always add a special ornament to your advent calendar to add to the tree later on! We love this Clay Ornament Frame from The Reject Shop (just $3) which you can fill with a photo from the year!

- Unwrap a Christmas Story or Christmas Movie
Get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas book or movie! There are lots of cute picture books for little ones and there are plenty of Christmas movies out there for all ages. For a great family movie try The Grinch or Elf, whilst teens and adults can sit down to enjoy a movie night watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation or It's a Wonderful Life (Here's a list of 50 of the Best Christmas Movies)

How to make a DIY Advent Calendar from The Reject Shop- Make Some Christmas Treats
Christmas Baking and Treat Making is one of our favourite holiday traditions and something we all look forward to every year. Some of our favourite Christmas Recipes include; Healthier Peanut Butter Shortbread, White Chocolate Candy Cane Fudge, Healthy and Vegan Gingerbread Muffins and of course our favourite Low Fat Gingerbread Cookies
(and stay tuned for new Christmas recipes as we'll be sharing two to three new healthier Christmas recipes every week on Southern In-Law!).

Be sure to pick up some Christmas Cookie Cutters from The Reject Shop to include in your Advent Calendar ($3.50 for a pack of 8)

Activity Ideas for Advent Calendar- Make your own Ornament for the Tree
Why not try a Christmas Craft? These clear photo baubles from The Reject Shop are great for creating your own ornament (stay tuned for a fun DIY project using these!) or you could paint your own ornaments using one of The Reject Shop's Plaster Ornament Kits ($3.50-$5 for 4 ornaments, plus paint and brushes - there are two different sets, baubles and shapes) or Glitter Baubles Set ($3.50 for 3 ornaments, plus glitter glue).

- Make a Gingerbread House 

This is one of our yearly Christmas Traditions. This year Mum, Katrina and I are going to my church's Annual Women's Gingerbread House Night, however, Jesse can't come so we're planning on making another gingerbread house once Josh (Jesse's brother) arrives so that we can include him in our tradition!

- Create your own Christmas Cards
Make your Christmas gifts extra special by creating your own Christmas Cards! In the Christmas Section of TRS you'll find a DIY Christmas Card Set for kids ($5) with colouring pencils, glitter, envelopes and cards that are ready to colour in and decorate - whilst bigger kids (and adults!) will find all they need to get creative in the craft section - blank cards, glitter, paint, pens - you name it!- Enjoy a Christmas Inspired Family BreakfastChristmas time is family time for us - so why not enjoy a delicious Christmas inspired breakfast as a family? We love these Healthy Gingerbread Pancakes!

- Go for a Walk/Drive to See Some Christmas Lights!
Another one of our Christmas decorations! Check out the Christmas lights in your area - and be sure to listen to some Christmas music too ;)

- Add in a Sweet Treat!
Chocoholic? I know what you're thinking, what's an advent calendar without the chocolate?! Add in some little sweet treats to your advent calendar - The Reject Shop have lots of little individually wrapped treats which are perfect for filling your bags with - think: Mini Reese's Cups, Lollipops,  Wrapped Chocolates, Minties etc. 

- Go and Sing Some Carols!
We go to Carols in the Park in our local area as well as the Christmas Carols Night at our Church! - why not look around to see where the closest carols event is to you - or just sing them at home!

- Write a Letter to Santa! 
The perfect activity for Christmas Eve - get the kids to write their letters to Santa (and they're a super cute keepsake for Mum and Dad too!)

But tell me, what Christmas Activity do you and your family love?
Share your Christmas Traditions in the comments to inspire others - and you might just find some new traditions for yourself!

This is a sponsored post for The Reject Shop. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely Kristy and Jesse's own and the project and printables have been developed solely by them. If you're interested in working with us on a sponsored post, please contact us for more information


  1. So cute! My brother and I always used to get the cheap dollar store (fake "chocolate") advent calendars! The only reason that chocolate was good was because it was such a great tradition, haha! Miss those days ;)

  2. Haha it was the same for us! The chocolate really didn't taste good at all, but it was the whole opening the window thing we liked :P

  3. Such a fun idea and cute too! A reject store just opened near us, I might have to check it out and make this with my girls!

  4. It was lots of fun to make, Madalena! You'll have to take a photo if you make one with your girls!

  5. I've put together my own advent calendars for a while now for my husband, but still with food inside. I love the idea of having fun things to do inside though!

  6. That's so sweet! Don't worry, we have candy in there too - I just have to stop Jesse from taking them all out and eating them at once haha

  7. SO. CUTE. :)


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