Our Advent Calendar + Ideas

Last night I finished our advent calendar that will hopefully be in our family for years and years:
As a reminder, this is how it looked when I bought it on clearance for $20 from our local craft store (Porter’s for anyone close).
I didn’t do much to it, but with a three year old helping every step of the way–these things take time! I used walnut stain on the front and backs of each door to warm it up, but left the natural wood in the backs of the doors as well as the background of the trees and deer. It actually has a cool speckled look that was pretty charming.
I didn’t want the numbers on the door to be the main event, so I kept them on the small side. After looking through countless stencils and considering writing small numbers myself, I came across little black label letters and numbers at the same store (these to be exact) that were the perfect solution. I opted to put a 0 in front of the single digits to keep a consistent width all the way down the advent.
The vintage bottlebrush trees I found on ebay and loved the old charm and variation, but there are bottlebrush trees in lots of stores right now if you wanted something similar.
And the reindeer. Be still my heart. The thing is, Greta has been asking Santa Claus to bring her reindeer since last Christmas. We have been stumped on how to deliver on that one. As it turns out, these little gold mini ornaments I got for $1.50 for 3 (I cut the loop off the top) fulfilled her every wish for reindeer.  I hot-glued the reindeer and trees in place, but picked up a few extra packs of the reindeer for her to play with.
Everything else was just paint.  A simple black roof and white house kept it classic and I painted a brick pattern on the chimney, too.
A few people wondered what we will be putting in the advent, and we decided on doing activities this year instead of putting a small gift or candy in each door. Maybe I’ll attach the activity to a small piece of candy? We’ll see. Some of the things are already scheduled out for December so those days will be just as festive, but easy. Here’s our advent breakdown (in no particular order because we haven’t decided that part just yet).
1. Go to Greta’s preschool Christmas concert.
2. Open Christmas pajamas and have a parade in them.
3. Make and decorate sugar cookies.
4. Open and learn about our new elf on the shelf (first timers!).
5. Drive around to see Christmas lights.
6. Read the Christmas story in the scriptures and have cocoa
7. Watch Elf
8. Have dinner around the Christmas tree
9. Paint wooden ornaments
10. Deliver gifts to our neighbors
11. Watch The Polar Express and ring bells
12. Make a gingerbread house
13. Build a snowman
14. Visit Santa Claus and take a picture
15. Write a letter to Santa
16. Call Grandmas and Grandpas and sing jingle bells and have egg nog.
17. Make paper snowflakes
18. Make a Christmas package for our friends and ship it off
19. Get a gift for a needy family
20. Make reindeer food for Christmas eve
21. Go Sledding
22. Watch our church’s Christmas devotional and color a picture using only red and green crayons
23. Wear red noses and watch Rudolph
24. Go to a Christmas party!
Greta is already practicing opening the doors multiple times a day, but once December hits the plan is to sneak the day’s activity in the appropriate door sometime during the day so she can still check often and be surprised when it has appeared. Ahh, Christmas feels so special with a little one.

10 Comments

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    Lydia

    I love it so much I am green with envy. It is beautiful, and doing those activities will be wonderful to keep the Christmas spirit. Makes me wish my daughter was a little older!

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    Hanna Caldwell

    I love the finished project. I’ve been looking for an advent calendar too that fits our style and would work for kids. I might just try this. Also I love all the activities! Such a great idea. Thanks!

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    theanatomyofdesign.com

    so beautiful and original…modern but still christmas-y. and it look sturdy enough for little hands.

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    Beth Maybee

    Oo I don’t blame Greta for loving those reindeer–so cute? Do you mind sharing where those are from?

    • Reply November 21, 2013

      Julia Marcum

      I got those at the same local craft store (Porter’s) in the mini Christmas tree decor section. They were actually mini ornaments.

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    Meagan @ Meagan Tells All

    I love this. I’m taking your ideas for december–except maybe we can build a sand snowman, and make sand angels, and go sand sledding…maybe? Brinley still doesn’t think Santa is coming because it doesn’t snow here…poor girl.

    • Reply November 21, 2013

      Julia Marcum

      Blast Kenny Chesney’s “All I Want For Christmas is a Real Good Tan” and just bask in those sand angels. ;)

  • Reply November 21, 2013

    Haley

    This looks so great! Very classic and fun.

  • Reply November 22, 2013

    Britt

    I LOVE THIS. I saw it a couple days ago and I love it. I love the list. I am putting it in my RS newsletter today. Is that okay with you? I hope. I LOVE YA GIRL!

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