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.


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




















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.








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.


  1. I learn some new stuff from it too, thanks for sharing your information.

  2. 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 … ;-)

  3. Barbie says:

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

  4. Sally J Shim says:

    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

  5. Lis says:

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Feral Turtle says:

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

  9. 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?

  10. 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. :)

  11. Elen Grey says:

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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”! :)

  15. Patty says:

    Awww, now I want a Kinder egg.

  16. 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.

  17. 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).

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The Art of Doing Stuff