Thursday, December 13, 2012

D.I.Y Advent Calendar

Good Morning Everybody!!! :)  Today we are all blessed to have one of the nicest, sweetest people on the planet guest blogging here! :)  Her name is Bethany and she's my little sister ;)  She made us all these GORGEOUS early Christmas presents and has kindly agreed to share... Thanks Bethany!!! :) xo

In our family, we always make our own Christmas presents. We’ve had some truly wonderful presents from each other over the years and most people wouldn’t believe what cool stuff you can really make yourself! Having said that, the whole ‘making things’ thing is not something I’ve always been too crash hot at. And I have the hardest time coming up with present ideas. I used to always get my ideas off Mum, followed by a lot of help to actually make the idea, but since being married I kind of feel obligated to start thinking for myself …*sigh*

Anyway, this year I was walking through the shops and racking my brains about what on earth I could come up with. I was walking through the Christmas section in Myer (see how late I left my Christmas thinking? The shops were already filled with tinsel…) when I saw a really cute wooden advent calendar. It looked like a heap of wooden cubes with tiny doors, all piled on top of each other, painted and with a Christmas bear on top. I don’t think I’m making it sound that great, but I thought it was, and would make a good present if I could make one myself! So I spent the next week running through what I would need and how I might feasibly be able to do it. In the end I just had to admit that in order to make at least 5 of them I would need some serious skills and a truckload of money….neither of which I had.

Instead I decided to google ‘DIY advent calendars’ and the first site I looked at was this blog. I really loved it. It had pictures of several different kinds of advent calendars all made out of matchboxes. I didn’t even notice that they were matchboxes until I looked really closely. They looked like something even I would be able to do without help!
I chose the design I liked best (the blue cubed one – it’s a lot prettier than mine!) and then went about figuring out how to make it.
Though you could probably also just use the picture as a guide if you ever decide to make something like this, I’ll give you a little run down of what I did.

Materials I used:

Match boxes
Christmas scrapbooking paper
Glue gun/glue
Knife pen/scissors

Method I used:

11. I bought some matches. The Coles brand matches come in a pack of 10 for $1 so it’s pretty cheap. Because I needed 24 matchboxes for each calendar, that was only about $2.50 per present.

  2. I emptied out all of the matches from the boxes. ….there were a lot of matches…

  3. Using my glue gun I glued the match boxes together in sets of three. You can use other glue of course, I just found that the glue gun was super efficient and I didn’t have to worry about holding them in place or anything. …be careful not to burn yourself though because that kind of hurts... :S

  4. Next came the paper. I went to several stores looking for Christmas-y paper that I liked. The only place I found anything was Spotlight (LOVE Spotlight). From there I bought a book of 6 ½” by 6 ½” paper, as well as several sheets of individual 12” by 12” papers. The paper is the thing that probably cost the most. I was trying to make several calendars and I wanted paper I liked, colours that would complement each other, and enough of the good patterns.

  5.  Using the matchboxes, I ruled up the size of the paper I would need and then cut it out using my ruler and knife pen. I found that the 6 ½” by 6 ½” paper was the perfect length to wrap around the matchboxes. Very convenient.

  6. Next I used the glue gun to wrap the paper around the matchboxes.

7.    This is the trickiest part – gluing the boxes together. It’s tricky because you don’t want to accidently glue any of the ‘drawers’ inside or to each other. I found this out the hard way and ended up having to re-do several boxes :P
     Anyway, to glue the boxes to each other I removed all the ‘drawers’ and arranged the boxes in the way I wanted so that I knew which ones I was gluing to each other and so forth. For the cube shape, the boxes are arranged so that one end of a stack is stuck to the side of another. Because I didn’t want to have any glue getting in the way of the drawers opening and closing, I had to mainly glue along the top and bottom of the join, and then along the side that wouldn’t be facing outward. It took me a few tries to get the hang of it and figure out the right way to do it so  it would be strong and neat. You can also just figure out the best way for you.

  8. After that was done I needed to make the ‘lid’ and ‘base’ for the advent calendar. As my cube was 9cm across and I had decided I wanted an overhang of about 7mm, the width of my base would be 10.5 cm. I measured and cut a piece of paper that was 13.5cm square, which allowed me to fold over 1.5cm on each side in order to make a neat edge. I glued these edges down and then glued each onto the top and bottom of my advent calendar.

<9.   Next I used a skewer from my kitchen drawer to put a hole in the middle of each of the drawers. I wrote the numbers 1-24 on the drawers and then I put a brad (those two-pronged split-pin things. I got a pack of 200 from Spotlight on sale for $5. They also sell smaller sized packs) through each one for a handle/knob.

Putting the drawers back in the box, I didn’t want any particular order to the numbers and that was good because not all of the drawers slide easily in every slot. Some really stick and are difficult in one slot, but slide easily in other. I just had to fiddle around and see which drawers would slide and fit okay in which slot.

10.  Lastly, I filled the drawers with lollies and chocolates (it was hard finding chocolates that would fit. I could only find the Dove chocolates and some other lollies that would do the job). There was also a scripture of the Saviour’s birth in each drawer. The scriptures were my husband, Robbie’s, idea and personally I think it made the gift. It really brought the spirit of Christmas and is a little reminder each day about the true meaning :)


So, that’s that. Hope it wasn’t too long winded and confusing. As you can see from the pictures I did several different styled advent calendars depending on the what I thought the people I was making them for would like best and the papers I had. You can decorate them however you want. You could paint the drawers so they're all different colours or do all kinds of different things. 
I had a really fun time doing these advent calendars! I’m really not one who has ever been very imaginative or particularly good at this sort of stuff but it was extremely satisfying to see a finished product that worked and didn’t look toooo bad. And everyone seemed to really like them so that was also a massive plus! 
I’m sure any of you would be able to make a much better version if you tried!

(Hi, Sandra here.  Bethy left out one of the best things about this - the huge laugh we all got when we opened our second, accompanying  present...  Tammy opened hers first and almost collapsed with laughter.  I couldn't see what she got and couldn't imagine what it could be that would be so funny!  I opened mine and also had a great laugh.  What was it?  A good-sized plastic bag full of left-over matches! :)  If you'd like to see a photo of Bethy you can go back a few posts to Friday last week :)


  1. Bethy,
    I said it at the time, but I'll say it again - I had no (no) idea how craft-talented you were, and I absolutely beyond love these!!! Mine is sitting on my chest of draws in my room. My favourite thing in there at the moment :)
    Awesome awesome awesome :)

    xoxo Tammy

    PS. And great touch with the scriptures Robbie - loved them :)

    1. I'm so glad you like it Tam! I was worried they would be lame :P
      And yes, I agree about the scriptures. Points to Robbie :) xo

  2. Such a cute cool idea Bethany!! I'm impressed :) xo

  3. Agreed - LOVE these!! And love that the scriptures add up to tell the nativity story!! Best advent calendar!! :) And I was just discussing how cool it is with Stace, who suggested you KEEP all those matchsticks, and make a gift with them next year! :D Doesn't that sound great?? :) So don't worry about giving us ours at Christmas... lol xo

    1. Hahaha, you wish! Really, I feel bad that they somehow, absolutely randomly, ended up in my bag instead of yours. I hate to think of you guys missing out like that. So have no fear, I won't forget you come Christmas day :) xox

  4. Thank you Bethy! :) I love these and love your post! :) And don't worry about the matches.. Guess what you are getting for Christmas? :D
    (Actually, that reminds me of old Grand-dad Mac, who used to make fabulous things completely out of matches. Seriously, they were incredible! I remember a hanging wall cabinet that was like a piece of art :)

    1. Great! I'll just give you all the matches I still have left over (trust me...a LOT) and you can make something fabulous!!!
      I'm so excited to see what you create :)

    2. Haha No, no, I insist - we can all do it as a family activity! :)

  5. Bethany! This is ridiculously clever! I want to give it a try, but I really don't know if I am this clever...or patient ;)

    1. That's the pure beauty of it Kate! The general rule of thumb is that if I can, anybody can!
      Plus, I know you, you're one of those people who is just good at stuff like this. I've seen what you're capable of. It's intimidating, lol.

    2. My fudge and my macaroni cheese are pretty good lol ;) ♥

  6. Such a great idea, though watch out for little fingers. I found a wrapper on Jenna's floor and she went on to announce that they had eaten some. I found 6 eaten. Cheeky kids!!!

    1. Hahahaha! Of course they did, lol, cheeky little monkeys! I did wonder about putting all the chocolates and lollies in there and whether parents would mind!
      I guess it's time to put it on top of something very high :P

    2. Blame it on the Elf? :)