12 Best DIY Advent Calendars

You would think that I, of all people, would make my own Advent Calendar. I don’t. I don’t even buy the good ones. I buy the ones that are $1 at the checkout of the hardware store right next to the batteries and air fresheners. The upside to this arrangement is the chocolates always have a hint of pine-fresh scent.

I’ve given my 2 nieces an Advent Calendar every year since they were born. This has been going on for the past 20 years or so. And every year it’s been a $1 calendar. In my defence, I always spend the time it takes for the person in front of me to check out flipping through the calendars making sure to get the most attractive of all the $1 cardboard boxes filled with squares of brown wax.

This year was a bit different. This year I went all out. Because LAST year when all the advent calendars were on sale after Christmas I bought two Kinder Egg calendars. Which have sat in my closet for the past 11 months where the chocolates have been gathering a festive coating of white bloom and possibly worms. Merry Christmas!

It took all of the strength I had not to eat those Kinder egg calendars on a variety of occasions in the past year. Easter for example. And one day when it rained. And the day I had a lot of laundry to do. And most Mondays. And the day I brought them home from the store. That was a particularly difficult one. But I didn’t. I was strong and I left those calendars in tact because I am a good aunt, I have excellent restraint and because I am a grown up who has a cupboard filled with baking supplies including bags of chocolate chips I can rummage through whenever I want to.

Oh, but that’s not the good news. The good news is I’ve decided they can have their wormy calendars, because I’m going to make myself a super-cool advent calendar this year.

I just haven’t decided on which one. There are some pretty ugly, homemade advent calendars out there in Pinterest land, but I’ve selected what I think are the best of the bunch.

So if you’re thinking of making your own advent calendar this year look no further.

I have done the research for you.

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Just click on the photo to go to the original source and in most cases, instructions.

 

 

 

 

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This one isn’t my favourite, but I like the general idea.  If it were me, I’d use a really stained, worn, old muffin pan (it has to be a mini muffin pan to have enough compartments by the way) and I’d use white, gold and black for the covers.  Black or white ribbon and a less cutesy label on the bottom.  Other than that, love it, lol.

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I’m leaning towards the white bags on the wall because I love how simple and contemporary it is.  My initial reaction is always to go for rustic, but the rustic doesn’t show off as well if it isn’t balanced by some simple white contemporary.  That’s what I think anyway.  Today.

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56 Comments

  1. Jean in BC says:

    Lovely! I like this wine one myself 🙂
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/72550243972310811/

  2. gigi says:

    chalkboard, candy bar buffet, and brown paper packages, tied up with string; these are a few of my favorite things ♪♪♪
    Thanks again for assembling them all in one place.

  3. Lynn in Alberta says:

    I am old fashioned so I like the muffin tin idea the best ⛄️ . I use to set out a kiss on a plate for my girls . As I had a chocolate lover in my pair an she would open all the doors as soon as she saw it displayed .

  4. Melissa says:

    Other than brown wax, what goes in an advent calendar, or what are they for?

    • Karen says:

      Just a plain old count down to Christmas. There’re mainly just for chocolate eating fun now, but there are more serious, religious versions as well that include parts of bible verses etc. behind each door. Behind the doors there can be candy, chocolates and small gifts. There’ve been a lot of people putting “tasks or to do lists” in them too. But fun things. So behind every door would be something fun and wintery to do that day. Like go tobogganing. Or walk around and look at Christmas lights. Or watch a classic Christmas move. Bake cookies … you get the idea. Basically a really great way to trick your family into taking part in The Christmas Pledge without knowing it. ~ karen!

    • Lisa E says:

      The original advent calendars were Christian based. They were used in great anticipation to countdown and celebrate Christ’s birth. I have never used one, nor did my family growing up so please do tell what is the purpose of brown wax a few have mentioned?

      • Karen says:

        Hi Lisa – We’re referring to the small, awful, waxy pieces of horrible chocolate that are in the inexpensive advent calendars. ~ karen!

  5. Agnes says:

    Karen, you are freaking me out. Apparently we have the same taste in timely posts.

    I just published this one on Monday! http://makezine.com/craft/advent-calendar-roundup/

  6. Claudia says:

    I like the green cones (Christmas trees) version a lot, and the gingerbread one, too (although they’d never make it until Christmas (yum)), but the white-bags-on-the-wall is really cool – so stylish! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Laura Bee says:

    Now I can’t decide-maybe I’ll use my square 9 spot tin along with some tied up packages. Stick them all in a basket I can put high up away from my 4 year old. (she is officially 4 today – in the morning! – Wed lol.)
    Then Thursday I can start Christmas. Wheeee!

  8. Meg says:

    omg I still have time to make one of these, and get it across the US by 1 Dec…I think. If I decide what goes in it now… annnd mail it immediately. crap. this wasn’t on my gift list, but it should be. this totally needs its own day on the pledge calendar.

  9. Tracie says:

    I’ve been telling myself to make this craft for several years now, so thanks! I love these ones so much!!! Can’t pick just one, but do so love the bare branch with hanging advents. Hmm, I guess I just picked one….I remember them being so basic in my childhood. Pop out a chocolate, (never a good one) and another day closer to Christmas! I still remember believing in Santa at ten years of age… Also, I’m keeping up with my Challenge this year. So far. Yay for me….

  10. sherry says:

    Oh what fun! Love the paper cone Christmas trees and the idea of putting seasonal activity suggestions in them. Also love chocolates, so half the trees must have a Lindt chocolate ball:)
    Spontaneous fun + milk chocolate = A Merry Christmas time.

  11. Heather says:

    So did anyone else notice that the muffin tin has an upside down 6? Apparently Dec 9 comes twice this year.

    These are all great!

  12. jainegayer says:

    Love the one with all the edible treats in glass jars underneath.

  13. Jody says:

    What hardware store do you get advent calendars at????? just asking………

  14. Mary says:

    Hmmmm. These are a wee bit too tasteful for me. I still like the brown wax in a cardboard box with pictures of elves and Santa on it. If someone wants to give me 24 cookies, however, I wouldn’t complain.

    • Louise says:

      I’m with you, Mary. I guess I just like the traditonal Advent calendars – although my mother always bought ours from some art museum and each door had some kind of appropriate painting behind it. But the brown wax was just the same!

      • Mary says:

        When I was young, we never had an advent calendar although I remember seeing them in the shops and wishing we could have one. When my daughters were young, I made it part of our family tradition. Time will tell if they keep the tradition going. Merry Christmas, Louise!

  15. Su says:

    I like the brown paper bag garland one….. simple yet a bit rustic and somehow elegant all at once… thanks for sharing

  16. maggie van sickle says:

    I love the little green trees albeit they would take up a bit of room but they are something the family could do together. They could be different colours depending on your decor for Christmas. Whatever you make Karen will be just right and fit your personality.

  17. Jody says:

    These are neat. I used to have a mini quilt with a Christmas tree pattern. It had 24 little ribbons on which you tie a mini candy cane. I don’t know why I don’t still have it.

  18. Diana says:

    The one which is folded and pleated like Diamonds and symmetrical shapes. Definitely but with white paper! Great. Maybe only Diamonds hanging straight in a row… hmmmm. My problem is what to fill it with!!!???
    I wish, somebody would make one for me!

  19. Shelly McKay says:

    All of these are fantastic ideas! To think I’ve been buying the lame stale chocolate ones all these years – lol

  20. Dianne says:

    Did anyone notice that the “6” is upside down on the cookie sheet advent calendar. So…I pick that one because I would have two birthdays in December and still only be one year older! Or maybe I could drop two years in age, sort of like leap year kids. Hmmm this is looking better and better.

  21. Patti says:

    Karen if you could, I need your help with the Pledge! I got through everything on the calendar in a timely manner so far except…I’m having so much trouble figuring out what gifts to get everyone! What I usually do is wander around the stores (or the internet) waiting for inspiration to strike until I find the perfect something. I realize this is what holds me up each and every year. Is there some trick I don’t know about??

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, that’s not gonna work Patti. Think of the person. What they like. Their interests their hobbies. Decide what you’re going to get before you go out shopping or browsing. Leave browsing for only the most difficult to buy for present and even then, go to a store that you know they like/shop at/interests them as opposed to an entire mall. And my last piece of advice is to make a list all year long. The second someone says they like something or want something, write it on your list. At the end of the year you’ll have your list for Christmas shopping done. ~ karen!

  22. Bols says:

    I don’t understand the point of advent calendars, we have never done that (I don’t mean just my family, I am talking about my friends as well) so this is rather alien to me. Plus, once you start opening the invidual days it messes up the whole look (unless it’s the one where each item just hangs off a branch [I do like that one visually] where you just take each one off).

  23. Tigersmom says:

    I have never done an advent calendar. Probably because my mother couldn’t be bothered to do one, or to carve a pumpkin or dye Easter eggs. All things I did for the first time as an adult and make sure that my son gets to experience.

    These are cool ones. I like the idea of making one, as brown wax is, to me, an abomination.

  24. Patty says:

    Awww, now I want a Kinder egg.

  25. Julie says:

    these are cool! but i’d have to make them, buy treats…find a place…ugh. i’ll stick with lego for now 😉 and you’ll have to find a place for this on “the christmas pledge”! 🙂

  26. Kellie says:

    Last year I had a tiny gift for my daughter, husband and mother-in-law for each day of advent. For example, a christmas spatula, cookie cutter, apron, napkins, tablecloth (all thrift finds and most vintage) for my mother-in-law. My husband an air freshener for his work truck, a Pez dispenser, deodorant (I’d never get away with giving that to him for Chirstmas.) Anyway, I planned and wrapped 75 gifts and you know what. They had the hardest time with it. Still complaining this year. The buggers. So Advent – been there done that. I’m going to relax and eat bonbons.

    • Louise says:

      They COMPLAINED?! How dare they! What could they possibly find to complain about? You’re right – the buggers!

      Oops – guess I’m getting too riled up on your behalf. (Sorry!) But I’ve known people like that, who like to complain about a gift or tell you why they didn’t need it or don’t want to be grateful. Takes all the fun out of getting them anything!

    • Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

      You are too kind. Buggers is far too nice a way to describe their lack of gratitude. How I wish I could be the recipient of some of the thoughtful things you gifted…. especially the vintage goodies.
      Also, what Louise said!

  27. Deborah says:

    Gees Louise!!! I thought I would save a couple of these pics as the ideas were “harddrive space” worthy, but I loved them all so just bookmarked the page…
    I am living on a boat in Mexico for 6 months, and will make one of these ideas work here.
    Good work on the research.

  28. Elen Grey says:

    I love the third one – the twig with all the red, white, and brown bits hanging from it. Organized eclectic. 😀

  29. Mindy says:

    I’m a fan of the wine one, too. 🙂
    Last year, I started the Christmas book advent for our kids. I added to the ones we already had by hitting up the thrift store. I found some really nice ones. I wrap them, number them, and we read one under the Christmas tree every night, ending with Twas The Night Before Christmas on Christmas eve. I think I love it even more than the kids. 🙂

  30. Shauna says:

    So, the total Christmas Pledge naysayer is totally on track. I’ve even wrapped two of my gifts. Perhaps, I just need to bitch (and be a bitch about it) and whine to realize what an idiot I’m being and JUST DO IT 🙂

    The only person I have left to buy for is my husband and my kid. For which both have their lists on Amazon, so I’ll be getting that done today. Tonight, I will begin wrapping any presents I already have. Or, go grocery shopping because I really am afraid of the grocery stores this weekend.

    Anywho, love the advent calendars. I always want to make them, and they look pretty, but like you, I usually just end up buying one at the last minute while standing in line. Although I’m usually in line at World Market, so maybe slightly better plastic brown stuff inside?

  31. I kinda like the craft beer advent calendars. They are attractive and don’t have that waxy taste about them! Cheers

  32. Em Johnston says:

    But can I fit a bottle of red wine into those pretty white bags? Me thinks not.
    I’m totes doing the Wino Advent calendar for Huz. Or maybe beer.
    I hope I get glitter for Christmas.

  33. Virginia says:

    I make them for my grand nephews and nieces including with the daily goodie a note “In the spirit of Christmas will you be extra nice to someone in your class” — whatever is appropriate for their ages and family lifestyles. One In the spirit of Christmas “task” each day.

  34. Lis says:

    Love these, esp the polygon boxes — but link on that pic points to something else?

  35. Thank you so much for including my advent calendar in your round-up! I’m honored!! xoxo

    • Karen says:

      Thank YOU Sally. Your simple boxed Advent is beautifulllll. My mother and I were just talking about it yesterday as a matter of fact. 🙂 ~ karen

  36. Barbie says:

    First one is my fav!!! However I already have an advent calendar….but I may have to “need” two!

  37. Molly says:

    Look at this one http://www.pinterest.com/pin/206321226654885612/ . It has 25 compartments! And it’s from Canada. Which makes me thinking … 😉

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