At Christmas time, there is no German home without an advent calendar. While they are not as widespread around the world, in Germany, it has become a beloved tradition. It started with Gerhard Lang in 1902. His mother used to give him little boxes filled with cookies to sweeten-up the wait for Christmas Day. As an adult, Gerhard started producing calendars made of paper with pictures to cut out. In the 1920, the typical advent calendar form, as we know it today, started circulating the country. In the 60s, chocolate became the most prominent option of fillings. Although there are many different shapes and fillings to an advent calendar, I sillt prefer a personalized, self-made version of it. That is why my sister and I have started our own little tradition of making a calendar for each other every year. Since the new advent calendar for this year is still in the works, I want to give you the instructions on the one I made for her last year. We had decided to craft a calendar with quotes and sayings. Please excuse the low quality of the picture, back then I did not expect to be running a blog about crafts… Still, I love this creation and I really want to share it with you.
- Green carton (large, high thickness)
- Paper with Christmas-themed prints (you can fashion the cards out of just one print or mix several prints, even different ones for each day)
- Chain of lights
- Carton to stabilize the tree
- Red Napkins
(They are up to you, but here are some suggestions, but don’t overdo it, since the cards on the tree should stand out)
- Little red ornaments
- Silver or golden stars (you can also paint these on or use stickers)
- Item to put on top of the tree (angel, star, Christmas-hat)
- Creating a Pattern
First, you need to create a pattern for the tree. Put several pages of white paper together with tape and start drawing. To make both sides of the tree match you can fold the paper in half, draw one side of the tree with the middle of the tree at the fold, and cut along the lines. Fold it back up and there is your tree. Make sure the surface is big enough to fit the number of your cards. FYI: the measures of my pattern are 70cm x 50cm or 27.5in x 19.5in, for 18 cards.
- Fashioning the cards
Collect the quotes and sayings for the calendar. This can also include quotes from songs, jokes, or your favorite Christmas recipe. Pictures are a great alternative if you do not like the idea of quotes. If you have longer quotes, write them on a page and roll them up in a red napkin and ribbon to go under the tree as presents.
Cut the printed paper in any shapes and sizes; just make sure they are big enough for the quotes but not too big to fit them all on the tree. Number them from 1 to 24. You can either paint the numbers on yourself or use stickers.
- Preparing the Tree
Cut lines of about an inch in the tree where you want to place the cards and slide them in the opening. To avoid the cards from falling forward, and to stabilize the tree, use a second carton. Cut it with the tree pattern and glue it to the back of the green paper. Only put glue above the lines you cut, otherwise you will not be able to slide the cards in.
- Fashioning a stand
If you are fine with leaning the tree against the wall or an object, you can skip this point. In case you want your tree calendar to stand on its own, you have to fashion a stand. Use a thick carton that you fold into a triangle. The angle between the floor and the tree has to be slightly less than 90 degrees, so the tree leans back just enough to avoid it from falling over. The side that will be attached to the back of the tree should be at least ¾ as high as the tree. Use glue or double-sided tape to attack the triangle-stand to the tree.
- Finishing up
When decorating the tree, start out with attaching the chain of lights. Make sure to have the cards on the tree so you can work the decorations around them. Then you hang the ornaments on some of the corners of the branches and in between some of the cuts for the cards. Finally, depending on what decorations you use, paint stars on the tree, or use stickers if you want to make it a little easier. I used stickers of snowflakes.
Have fun crafting your own tree advent calendar!