Thursday, November 21, 2013

DIY Advent Calendars - A Tradition

I am not sure when it all started but one of the Christmas traditions at my home every year is the Advent Calendar. The festivities start December 1st.

I think when I found my advent calendar on sale for half price and had to have it, I instituted the tradition........meaning that I suggested to my husband to fill it for me so that I could have a treat every day of December!

A beautiful display piece with the doors closed

Don't worry....I made both my husband and son their own advent calendars and each year I fill them up with treats for every day in December too.

An Advent Calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. One window is opened every day leading up to Christmas. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem or a portion of a story, such as the story of the Nativity. A small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item can be put inside.

I will explain how I made my version of an advent calendar for my husband and son and, if you are a sewer, it should be fairly easy to make one of your own. I apologize that this is not exactly a tutorial. These calendars are already made and I don't have any step by step pictures.

I made these for my husband and son. You can choose any fabric and colors to suit whoever you are making it for or to match your décor. You can scale it down also to fit a special spot.

My husband Frank's calendar had to be Spiderman, a superhero favorite of his since childhood....

My son Michael's had to be a Gecko theme since he has a real Gecko in a cage in his room named Geck's. I actually found material with Gecko's on it.....

Materials Needed:
fabric of choice for the front (the screen print spiderman measures 34" x 44")
fabric of choice for the backing (same size as the front)
felt for the pockets - about a yard
black marker
number stencil
36" dowel - 1/2" thick
1 yard cording or twine for the hanger
 A large enough spot to hang it!

For the Spiderman I used the screened by the yard prints that are found at any fabric store. That determined the size it was going to be and the amount of fabric I needed for the back. I used black felt by the yard for the black.
For the pockets I cut out 24  4" x 4" squares from red felt and used a number stencil and a black marker for the numbers, 1-24. If you have a steady hand you could free hand the numbers. For the gecko calendar I used a product called Scribbles in Iridescent Charcoal Grey for the numbers. It is 3D paint which dries to a hard finish. I penciled the numbers on and then traced with the paint.
Next pin the pockets evenly on the front fabric in random order. It's more fun to have to hunt for the number and the treat than to have them all in order! Sew them on three sides on the machine leaving the top open.
Once that is done sew the back fabric on.With right sides together, I sewed all four sides with a 5/8" seam, minus about 6" to turn it inside out through. Once turned blind stitch the opening closed. On the outside I sewed a finishing seam along the black border that was already there. If there is not a border sew a 1/4" seam all the way around the edge.
For the dowel pocket turn over the top 1 1/2" and sew down. If you have a border at the top of your front fabric that would ruin the design by turning it over, leave the top open when sewing the front to the back and add a 2" wide piece of the back fabric after you turn the whole thing right side out. Turn that down 1 1/2" and and sew it down.

 On the gecko calendar I didn't have a border so I just turned the top over 1 1/2" and sewed it down.

Knot your cord or twine on both ends of the dowel. You can add any other embellishments you want, like I did with the gecko with the Santa hat on. I just drew him and cut it out of felt and glued it all on.

Need ideas what to fill the pockets with? I have filled them with small toys, small candies, socks and razors. A fun thing to do for an item that is too large for the pocket is to write a note with a clue on where it is hidden and put the note in the pocket. I have done this many times with bottles of favorite beverages that are hidden in the back of the fridge.

Another great idea is to write out notes of holiday inspired things to do to fill each pocket. For example...."fill the bird feeder today with dried cranberries" or "bake some cookies for your neighbor" or "take a drive tonight through the neighborhood to see the lights"....

Be creative! It is fun for the one who fills and for the one who receives!

One last thing for those of you who love the idea of an Advent Calendar but don't want to sew. There is a wonderful website out of England that I subscribe to year round for greeting cards to send online. Every Christmas they offer advent calendars to download onto your computer that you can go and check every day starting December 1st. They are done with beautiful graphics and lots of activities. I send one to each of my granddaughters as a treat for them leading up to Christmas.

Here is the website:

AnnMarie  xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog parties:

What's It Wednesday Link Party
Adorned From Above Blog Hop
Open House Blog Party
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Anything Blue Friday
The Pin Junkie Friday Link Party
DIY Sunday Showcase
A Bouquet of Talent
Sweet & Savoury Sundays
Marvelous Mondays
Inspiration Monday
Make It Pretty Monday


  1. Love it!! I grew up with these, too. What a lovely tradition, AnnMarie!

  2. We had one as a kid....I remember how much I loved it....each day was filled with a Hershey's kiss. :)
    You are SO crafty!

  3. These advent calendars are fabulous! I would love to make one for my son and even for my dear hubby :) Thanks for the wonderful idea, sweet lady!

  4. This is great! I am a music teacher and I use something (simpler) similar to have my kids practice through Christmas. They get to eat a treat every day after they have practiced

  5. Cute idea for an advent calendar. I will tell my daughter to take a look also as she usually makes one for her children.
    Thanks for stopping by and reading along. Hope I don't get to boring, as I tend to ramble often. :D
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  6. Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned Link Party. Have a great Thanksgiving.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  7. Love this- pinning it! I haven't made an Advent calendar yet, though I wanted to... it's a little late, but I might try to pull this together!

    Believe it, San Antonio Movers website


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