For some people, November may seem a bit early to be thinking about Christmas and all the baking, decorating and gift giving the holiday entails. But some holiday crafts are best prepared for in advance — like this handmade Christmas Advent calendar. I like to experiment with different styles and types of Advent calendars to keep things fun and inventive. This matchbox version is quick and easy to make and you can customize it to fit the theme, style or gifts for the recipient.
Materials to Make a Christmas Advent Calendar
- 25 matchboxes (most dollar stores sell a pack of 10 matchboxes for a dollar)
- holiday wrapping paper
- white glue
- glitter or sparkly pipe cleaner
- hot glue gun and glue sticks (if using pipe cleaners)
- paint (optional)
- pencil with eraser (optional)
- permanent marker (color of your choice)
- gifts and mementos to fill the matchboxes
Directions to Make a Christmas Advent Calendar
- Empty out your matchboxes. We store our matches in a jar for future camping trips and bonfires.
- Glue 9 matchboxes together back to back to make a row; repeat the same process with 7 matchboxes; then with 5; then with 3. You should have one matchbox leftover.
- When your rows of matchboxes have dried, wrap a strip of wrapping paper around the row and glue it into place. Make sure the drawers are exposed so you can still open and shut the drawers.
- Now glue the rows of wrapped matchboxes on top of each other. The row of 9 matchboxes goes on the bottom, the row of 7 gets glued on next, followed by the row of 5, the row of 3, and finally the final matchbox.
- Allow to dry
- If you like, you can use a pencil erasor top to stamp a dot of paint on each drawer. Allow paint to dry.
- Use a permanent marker to draw the numbers of the month on the drawers.
- You can also use glue and glitter to decorate any of the lines or borders along the calendar. I used a pipe cleaner to create the same effect (I ran out of glitter– a glittery pipe cleaner was Plan B). To use pipe cleaner simply bend and shape it to fit along the edges of your calendar and then hot glue it into place.
- If wanted, you can hot glue a decorative bulb, ornament, button or other “tree topper” to the top of your tree. I found a vintage mini bulb at the bottom of an ornament box and added a sticker to it to top our tree.
Gifts to Place in a Christmas Advent Calendar
- small wrapped candy such as peppermint swirls, Andes mints or Hersheys miniatures
- coins (for laundry, parking meters, subway, or collectable coins)
- notes, messages, tiny handmade coupons
- miniature and small toys (i.e. gumball machine and Cracker Jack prizes)
- sea glass
- postage stamps
- small pinback buttons
- office supplies (designer paper clips, flat erasers, small binder clip, small Post-It notes)
- small plastic bags of spices for people who love to cook (natural food stores let you buy spices in “bulk” so you can choose your own amount of what you buy)
- Beads, wire, and fasteners for jewelry makers
- Worry stones
- Buttons and thread
- Talismans and good luck tokens
Have leftover matchboxes? Find ideas on how to decorate them.