Through the years I’ve figured out ways to come up with consistent holiday traditions that can be adjusted as life throws curveballs our way—the recipes I make, the records we play, and the few activities we can depend on every year, like decorating the tree together and driving around to look at Christmas lights. And this year I’ve thrown a new tradition into the mix: An advent calendar!
So check out how I made this advent calendar garland, and take a peek at what we planned for our 25 days!
-star boxes—I used these
-twine, string, or ribbon
-ink pad (if using stamps)
-fine cloth (if using gold leaf)
If you choose to gold leaf the boxes, as I did, you’ll need to make sure you have enough gold leaf sheets for all boxes. I had plenty of sizing and sealant in one gold leaf kit, but I did end up purchasing additional sheets at Michaels to finish all of my boxes. I sliced the sheets into strips to help me conserve them when applying the sheets to the sides of the boxes.
To apply gold leaf, brush a coat of sizing onto the box, let the sizing dry a bit (wait about 15 minutes), then lay sheets of gold leaf onto the sticky sizing. Use a fine cloth to burnish the gold leaf onto the box, and try not to handle too much with your fingers. The oils from your hand will cause the metal to tarnish. Seal the gold leaf as soon as possible.
Work with just a few boxes or lids at a time, as letting the sizing sit for too long will make them less tacky, making it difficult for the gold leaf to adhere to the boxes. I found working with 4-5 boxes or lids as a time was a good amount for the time it took to apply the gold leaf.
Step Three: Add numbers to the box lids. I had intended to use stamps for this, but I couldn’t get any of my ink pads to work with the shiny metal surface created by gold leafing the lids. So I decided to use stickers instead. If you’re a scrapbooker like me, you’ll probably have a lot of random numbers from old sticker sets that you could use in combination with each other to come up with enough ones and twos for all of the days in an advent calendar.
Step Five: Thread the string or ribbon through the hooks and tie it in place. I spaced my stars about 5″ from each other.
Most of the lids fit snugly onto the boxes, but the looser lids are secured with clear tape. I might use tape on all of the boxes to discourage curious little hands from taking premature peeks at the surprises inside.
Day 2: Paint—Paint mini stain glass window decals
Day 3: Mini marshmallows—Drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie together
Day 4: Mini book—Unwrap a new Christmas book to read together
Day 5: Chocolates
Day 6: Colored beads—Make bracelets with elastic string
Day 7: Mini teddy bears
Day 8: Mini wooden peg people—Kids paint the pegs and Mom adds faces
Day 9: Life Saver candies
Day 10: Dice—Family game night
Day 11: Mini gingerbread house—Decorate gingerbread houses
Day 12: Mini deer figurines
Day 13: Mini wreath—Make pipe cleaner wreaths for the dollhouse
Day 14: Chocolates
Day 15: Jingle bells—Make jingle bell necklaces
Day 16: Life Saver candies
Day 17: Mini Christmas light bulb ornaments—Drive around to look at Christmas lights
Day 18: Mini gingerbread ornament—Decorate gingerbread cookies
Day 19: Dice—Family game night
Day 20: Wooden snowflakes—Paint snowflakes to make magnets for the refrigerator
Day 21: Disco ball ornament—Family dance party to Christmas party playlist
Day 22: Mini marshmallows—Drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie together
Day 23: Mini stand mixer—Bake cookies with Mom
Day 24: Mini pillow—Camp out in the living room beside the Christmas tree
Day 25: Mini book—Read the Christmas story together
Credits //Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with the