I’m not a crafty person. In fact, I will go so far as to say that utilizing fine motor skills in tasks such as sewing, cutting, threading, weaving, knitting, gluing, etc. gives me a bout of anxiety. (Seriously, I’ve elevated my heart rate just by focusing too hard on plucking my eyebrows. The Concentration!). But a gal’s gotta give in sometime, especially when she is the sort who is known to say, “Oh, shit, I could just MAKE THAT!”
I’ve always drooled over the pre-fab Advent calendars and countdown garlands which grace the pages of expensive home ware magazines this time of year, but hell if I’m paying $70+ for one! I wanted a simple way to countdown the days until Solstice and Christmas, while allowing for a small note to be included for each day (more on that later). I filled a pin board on Pinterest with ideas and I browsed others’ creations. I had a semblance of what I wanted to create, but it took a trip to the craft store to solidify the idea.
I think I’ve created a lasting family tradition, and I thought I’d share it with you. This took very little time to make, so if you’re starting late (like I did!), you can certainly pull it together in time for holiday fun!
24- 3.25 x 3.25 envelopes
24- craft tags
24- wooden clothespins
5′ of wide ribbon, plus more for a bow if you wish
Number stampers (optional)
Assorted holiday stamps and stickers (optional)
List of holiday crafts, activities, and outings!
1. Compile your list of activities for the Advent season (for some ideas, see my list at the bottom of this post).
2. Write each day’s activity on a craft tag, using one for each day of Advent. On the opposite side, if you wish, stamp a design for decorative purposes (or for representing the day’s activity. For example, the day we made dried orange and clove decorations, I stamped an ornament on the reverse of the tag. I know. I’m a genius).
3. Number each envelope 1 through 24 using stamps or by simply writing them (this could be nicely done in calligraphy, too!).
4. Decorate each envelope with stickers or stamps. This could be fun for kids to do, or if you’re a little controlling, like me, you wait until the child is in bed and you go to town with YOUR OWN DAMN STICKERS. I used poinsettia & holly 3D stickers for days 1 through 23 and a large Santa sticker for Christmas Eve. (Yes, yes, I realize that “Advent” is a term reserved for the Liturgical season of celebration of the coming of Christ. I do not mean to imply that Santa is the reason for the season; I just liked the sticker.)
5. Slip an activity tag into each envelope. I planned to do bigger activities (like go to a parade) on weekends and planned Solstice-related activities for the days surrounding the solstice, but otherwise, I just sort of shoved the tags in there. And you’d better believe I’ll be changing those mo-fo’s around should they not suit the day. (Hey, my kiddo can’t read yet. He won’t know!)
6. Hang your length of ribbon either vertically, as I have, or horizontally in whichever location you choose. Make sure kids can reach it!
7. Attach your cards in either a calendar-style (1-24) or a countdown style (24-1) using the clothespins.
8. On each day of the season, remove a card, read the tag inside, and complete your activity. Once finished, hang the tag on your Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, you can reflect on all the fun you’ve had.
9. Enjoy spending the holiday season in meaningful celebration with your family
Sample List of Activities
Make birdfeeders out of pinecones and seed
Snowflake painting (use pine branches turned on end, dip in white paint, stamp)
Create mini xmas trees out of felt and buttons
Bake gingerbread or cinnamon-applesauce dough for ornaments
Roll beeswax candles
Create snowflakes from Borax
Make hot chocolate
Get a Christmas tree and decorate it
Create ornaments from dried orange and apple slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks
Go ice skating
Find winter and holiday-themed books at the local library
Go to a Christmas parade
Drive around your neighborhood after dark to view the lights and decorations
Bake a sun cake for solstice
Make a list of the things for which you are thankful; display it somewhere in your home
Random Acts of Kindness (these can be done on more than one day)
Create luminarias from white paper bags, sand, and candles. Light them on Solstice.
Bake xmas cookies