Holiday Family Tradition… Advent Calendar

As a little girl I remember each year during the holidays an Advent Calendar mysteriously showing up at our house right after Thanksgiving. I still don’t know if this calendar was given to our family as a gift, or if mom purchased it. I’m inclined to believe it was given to us, as money was extremely tight and even a little thing like a calendar would break the family budget.

Mom would pin it to a lampshade so the light shined in from the back giving the entire calendar a ‘stained glass’ effect. My brothers and I would take turns each day searching the corresponding number to the date and open the correct shuttered door revealing the surprise beneath. Sometimes there was a picture hiding behind the door, and other years it was a bible verse. Because I was the youngest… and we went in age order… I ALWAYS got to open the last door on the 24th. But by then we didn’t really care… as SANTA had come and THAT was much more exciting!!!

Knowing I am going to be a grandmother very soon I sat back and reflected a bit on my own childhood and what were my fondest memories of this time of year. Naturally a beautifully set table with a big fat turkey perfectly trussed and dressed sitting on a huge platter came to mind. But soon after all the leftovers were consumed… out came this calendar… a new one each year.

Now-a-days, in an effort to be politically correct… the name ‘Advent’ has been changed to ‘Countdown’ so as not to offend anyone who may associate the word ‘Advent’ as something religious. In reality the word ‘advent’ is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as meaning ‘coming toward’. Many Christians began using these calendars to enhance the excitement of celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. My brothers and I were simply excited to open the door each day and see what was behind it.

I decided it was time for me to re-create the excitement and continue a long forgotten family tradition. I would send all of my children and siblings an Advent Calendar. Well…. That was much easier said than done. Searching high and low I couldn’t find just the right one. Some were too serious for me, others too boring. When I finally found the perfect one… I couldn’t see a sample of what lay beneath the doors. Besides, the cost prohibitive sticker price made me quickly realize that purchasing 5 calendars was not an option. The idea was to revive a family tradition, not wipe out my bank account.

Instead I walked away telling myself I would simply make an advent calendar. Oh how naïve I was. First order of business was to Google ‘DIY Advent Calendar’. Picture after picture popped up revealing all different ways to make a Countdown Calendar. However they all required using 24 ‘things’ and wrapping them individually, or making a card with something fun to do, or my very favorite… 24 wrapped children’s books to be read each night before Christmas. Well… not everyone has children AND buying 5 copies of 24 books was waaaayyyy out of my budget.

Next I perused my favorite time sucker of all… PINTEREST. An hour later I came to the realization they couldn’t solve my dilemma either. The pinners on Pinterest all shared the same calendars and countdowns as I found on Google. However… I DID run across some great ideas for Christmas Eve Dinner.

“Well… if no one is going to tell me how to make an Advent Calendar, I guess I will have to figure it out for myself. I’m pretty smart…. and crafty… I can do this”, I said to myself. And guess what? I DID figure it out!!!

Whipping out my trusty watercolors and paper, I painted up a snowman and decorations. Using my very favorite black micro pen I inked in the numbers 1 to 24. Scanned the finished art on my computer, made a few adjustments and printed it out onto card stock.

snowman advent

I had a totally different idea of what to put behind the windows… but time was of essence, so I settled on some cute Christmas designs and printed them out on regular computer paper.

Next came the time-consuming job of cutting out the doors with an x-acto knife… then gluing the two together carefully so as NOT to glue any of the doors shut. HORRORS!

advent doors

The next part was my very favorite…. GLITTER!!! Woo! Hoo! It’s GLITTER TIME!!! I laid the calendars along the counter in a straight line… took hold of my glue pen… and went to town! Quickly, before the glue dried… I sprinkled a little glitter onto them and shook off the excess. OK… who am I kidding? I sprinkled a TON of glitter on those suckers. The more, the better!!!

advent glitter

Slipping the finished calendars into a clear envelope, then into a mailing envelope… out the door to the post office they went.

Oh… and I couldn’t stop at the original 5. Nope, not me… I made 25!!! Yes, that’s TWENTY FIVE! And I STILL didn’t have enough to send to everyone I wanted to. Sorry to you folks who didn’t get one this year. I’ll make sure you get on next year’s list. Yes… I had so much fun that I can’t wait to make more!! Of course I will tweak the process a little and paint an entirely new design. As a matter of fact… I am contemplating writing a book on how to make them. It’s becoming a lost art… really.

Why stop at Christmas? My brain is on overdrive. How about a Countdown Calendar for an upcoming wedding? Graduation? Major birthday? Retirement? Special vacation???

Tell me… what event would YOU like a Countdown Calendar for???

advent finished

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