Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Advent

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  Now it's time to get busy getting ready for the next holiday!  If you are like me, trying to get traditions started and set the tone for Christmases to come, that preparation can be a little intimidating.  (And if you aren't--please comment: What has been your favorite Christmas tradition?!?)

I am excited about this tradition which we will be starting this year--our Christmas Advent Calendar!  This will be the third year I've been tweaking this project (sorry to those of my friends who have seen this already).  I would love to share some tips and warnings so that if you decide to try this out it might go more smoothly.

Step 1--Find papier mache boxes.  That isn't easy.  You need twenty four after all!  I wanted to use different sizes, which helps a lot, but I still had to visit several stores to get enough.  My findings at the time were that Walmart had the best selection AND the best price.  If your nearest Wally World has crafts, I suggest checking them first! Check out the lids.  Your life will be easier if they fit neither too tightly or too loosely.

Step 2--Find paper.  It's a good idea to have your color scheme in mind.  I chose four main colors: white, magenta, light-ish green and brown.  You could definitely choose a more traditional scheme. Visit a store that has great open stock paper selection and have fun! Grab several sheets of each pattern.

Step 3--Decide what you will use for the numbers. I found a large pack of chipboard letters and numbers at Joann's.  I also used some stickers to add to the quirky random-ness.  I wish I had discovered the fabu-losity of the Silhouette by then. I could have cut cardstock or vinyl with it and had total control over the look of my numbers.

Step 4--Buy craft paint that matches (or coordinates with) your paper.

Step 5--How will you hang your boxes?  At first I used sticky tack to adhere them to the wall.  It works, but I had to re-hang some every few days.  One would come unstuck and bring others down.  Frustrating!  Last year I bought a huge frame (2'x3') and removed everything but the glass. Then I tried to figure out how to attach the boxes.  Some of my lids are very tight, so I knew I couldn't just glue the boxes to the glass.  I could see my kids trying to remove those lids and having the whole thing come off!  My solution was to buy some super strong magnets from e-bay.  Currently I am wishing I had bought a large cork board and simply thumb-tacked my boxes to it.  There are lots of options!

Step 6--I wish I had primed my boxes and numbers!!!  Grab some spray paint primer when you are at Walmart.  You can spray them in one fell swoop if you lay the boxes, lids, and numbers on some wax paper!

Step 7--Paint, paint, paint.  Mine took several--very several--coats.  Hopefully the primer would cut down on your painting time!

Step 8--Cut your paper.  Again, my silhouette would have made this part a million times easier.  Instead, I traced the lids of my boxes, then free-handed the shapes 1/2" smaller (leave 1/4" around all the edges), and then cut them carefully with scissors.  However you slice them, create prettiness for the lids of your boxes!

Step 9--Mod Podge!  First adhere the paper prettiness to the lids, stick the numbers on top of that, then cover the whole thing with a coat. Is it all right that I just put three steps in one?  Let's go with it!

Step 10--I added some pretty ribbons and bows to the square boxes at the bottom of the tree, to make them look like presents (but not the brown ones--they are the trunk!)

Step 11--Hang your boxes.  After they have dried, thumb tack, sticky tack, or glue away.  If you go with the "glue magnets onto the glass of a picture frame" route, might I suggest NOT using glue dots.  They don't do well with glass, turns out.  I am currently re-gluing all my falling boxes with hot glue.  Also, glue your magnets onto the FRONT of the glass.   You will need three sets of magnets for the large boxes, and two for the smaller ones.

Step 12--FILL your boxes!!  Hoooray!!!  We will be doing one Christmas-y activity every day, as well as reading one scripture.  And don't forget the candy.  This year we went with peanut butter cups in shiny red wrappers.  Mmmmm mmmm.

These are the fun things we will be doing this month:
Put up the Christmas Tree and decorations
Make Christmas gifts for my siblings who are on missions for our Church
Hot chocolate bar
Drive around to see lights
Go somewhere special for dinner
Read a Christmas book
Pick out a toy at the store to give away (
Make Christmas Cards for Grandparents
Make gifts for teachers
Make and decorate sugar cookies
Pick out a Christmas book at the library and read it
Make snowflake ornaments (or these or these) or other ornaments (or these or these).  How am I going to choose?!?
Watch Christmas movies with popcorn
Lights on Temple Square
Go caroling
Invite friends over for board games
Make paper snowflakes (check out this site to plan your favorites!)
Sleepover in the living room under the Christmas Tree
Interview the kids on video
Zoolights (Hogle Zoo sets up Christmas lights all over--our boys love them!)
Play in snow (hopefully!  Perhaps a sock snowball fight if we don't get snow?)
Gingerbread Houses
Read Luke 2, etc.

These are the Scriptures we will be reading every day.  Some of them are from the LDS (Mormon) scriptures, so if you'd rather substitute some Bible references, be my guest.  I recommend checking them out though!
1 Corinthians 1:3
1 John 4-7
Romans 15:4
Psalms 119:105-106
Isaiah 40:3-5
Isaiah 41:10
Psalms 98:4-9
Isaiah 2:2-3
Psalms 95:6-8
D&C 45:71
Romans 13:11-12
Mark 13:33-37
Micah 5:2
Isaiah 9:6
Mosiah 3:5-8
Alma 7:9-10
Alma 9:26-27
Helaman 14:3-8
Luke 1:26-29
Luke 1:30-38
Matt 1:18-21
John 3:16-17
3 Nephi 1: 10-21
Luke 2

Thanks to this site that gave me the idea all those years ago!
Are you doing anything to count down to Christmas?


  1. I love this every time I see it. Someday, when I'm a grownup I will copy yours exactly. (:

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