Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Advent Calendar

I love advent calendars. But purchasing them? Usually it is just some piece of waxy chocolate behind a cardboard door that is disposed of when you get done. I wanted to create something that I could have for years to come.
I am sure that we all have had those moments where we do, or design,  something that is so amazing we even amaze ourselves. Oh, c'mon...admit it! It doesn't matter if it would amaze anyone else, just you. Because you know what you have done! This, is one of those projects in which I struck the creative jackpot. This is a 12 day countdown to Christmas. I designed two separate types: Jesus' birth for a religious based count down, and used the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore for a more secular one.
Now, unfortunately my brain never works on a small scale. It just keeps going and going until the project is complete.

I designed this project for my craft group. And due to my dad's diagnoses last year, I was really cramped for time in getting one made before my sign up date. So this was the picture I posted in my group to show them what we were going to be making and 18 brave souls signed up off of this! I didn't even get to get mine finished before Dec 12th as I was a victim to food poisoning. (The post picture is my friend's-my board has the paint drying right now...I didn't get the board done last year, just the ornaments ;)

To start, I scoured the web for places that sold small wooden pieces I could buy individually not in sets of 12 or so. I located a few and just chose off of the designs I liked best. There is this one and this one that I ordered from. They had fast shipping, and no problems with my order. 

I used a 1" x 12" cut to 30" long. Then I routed the edges of the board, then lightly sanded and painted it. To get the perfect spacing for the pegs there is a method to the madness. The concept of my chair rail applies here too. This is how you do it. 
You take the measurement of the width of what you are spacing your objects on- in this case is 29.5" (I measured inside the routed edge)-and divide it by the number of objects you are spreading out PLUS ONE. 
                 29.5    =2.25
So I measured from inside the  bottom routed edge up about 1.5" and used a framing square to get the line straight. I then made marks every 2 1/4" along this line. I used a drill bit that was as big as the peg base to drill holes on these marks. I painted the pegs by sticking them to the table with mounting putty. I designed the vinyl myself and just used my Silhouette to cut it out. I downloaded a snowflake font and cut those out of vinyl too. Seal your board with polycrylic or mod podge.


I used the Bible to locate scriptures to correspond to the ornaments for the Jesus's Birth Story, and then found 'Twas the Night Before Christmas on a Google search. I created a Word document with text boxes to type the scriptures/stanza's into. I then printed it onto parchment. If I get enough requests, I can upload it to Google Docs.

Sorry for the blurry picture
I designed scrolls using dowel caps to corresponding sizes of dowels. Obviously you can get dowels from your local hardware store, but make sure your opening on the dowel cap is the same as the size dowel you purchase. Once I cut the dowels to size, I used an electric pencil sharpener to bevel the ends of the dowel to prevent cracking of the cap. I pushed the caps on, and then painted them before gluing the parchment on.


Next is the ornaments. You can paint them however you want, but this is how I painted them.



To get the black lines I used a fine tip craft marker similar to a Sharpie. I advise not using a Sharpie as it tends to leave a bluish hue instead of a black line. You can see teeny little eye bolts in the ornaments. I purchased those here. I used a gold thread to create a loop for hanging on the small tree.


You will need:
13 Pillow Boxes
23 yards ribbon
13-1/2 sheets of square scrapbooking paper

I bought my pillow boxes online as I needed to buy over 200 of them. But I am positive you can find them at local craft stores. When folded, the boxes measure approx 2.5" x 4.5". When they are flat, I was able to use a 1/2 sheet of scrapbook paper to cover the box. With one of the boxes, cut away the ova-lish flap at the top and bottom of the box. Use the pieces to make a template and trace it onto your paper. **TIPS: Make sure you "create" a flap (see #2 in picture) and create a sliver of a space to have enough room to wrap around. You will need to have an extra piece of paper to trace the extra flaps needed. Cut out the paper out and glue/mod podge to the box. Looking at the picture above, see the numbers written? That is the order to glue the sides to your box.

If you choose to ink the edges of your box, you need to do it before you put your ribbon on.
For EACH box you will need to cut 3 pieces of ribbon. I can't tell you the exact measurements as you will have to measure your own pillow box.

4" piece for knot
Piece to wrap around box belly
Piece for the loops to hang the boxes from the pegs. ** You will need to alternate lengths to hang them high and low as in the picture**

See 2 pictures down for information about measuring. Did you measure the distance from the top of the peg to where you want the top of the box? Okay multiply that by 2, and add the distance to the halfway point on the box, and add an inch. That is the length of the ribbon you need for 6 boxes-this will be your short loop. Get your second measurement by measuring from the peg down to the top of the box THAT WILL SIT BELOW THE HIGHER BOXES. Multiply that by 2, and add the distance to the halfway point on the box and add an inch, and cut 6 for the other boxes- this will be your long loop.

Start with box one. Using a SHORT LOOP piece, hot glue the end angled downward.

Keeping the ribbon straight, hot glue the opposite end of the same ribbon at the halfway mark going up to the top of the box, covering the first end piece.

Now using the the piece  for the belly of the boxes,  glue the MIDDLE of the ribbon over the end of your loop ribbon. This will cover the raw edge of the cut ribbon. Continue gluing around the box, overlapping the edges of the ribbon in the FRONT of the box.

Tie the 4" piece into a loose knot. Keeping a peak at the top. Trim the edges and then hot glue over the seam of the ribbon on the front of the box.

Repeat these steps for each of the boxes alternating between the short loops and the long loops.


I know my "plan" picture shows an 8.5" tree, but they were way too tiny. I ended up having to get a 15" tree to hold the ornaments. Again, I got the trees online because I was ordering for a lot of people. You will probably be able to find a tree at your local hobby and craft store. I also bought some little battery powered lights online, but I cannot find/remember the site I bought them from. I am sure you will be able to find something if that is what you wanted.


You will need to add either saw tooth hangers or keyhole hangers to the back of the board so that you can hang it up. So, now you are going to take the ornament with the corresponding scroll and put them both into a pillow box. Be careful to put them in the boxes in order so they alternate between the short and long loops. Starting on December 12th we open the first pillow box and read the scroll. We then hang the ornament on the 15" tree that has the string lights on it. I put it on my mantle so it is easy to access every night. On December 24th we hang the last ornament (either baby Jesus or the Happy Christmas Tag). It is a really great way to spend a few minutes together every night as a family celebrating this Christmas time of year.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas!