December is finally here, and that means that the final countdown is upon us! Everywhere we go we are reminded that there are only so many shopping days left until Christmas or before we mail out Christmas cards around the globe. We start to think of how many weekends we have left to carry out all the remaining tasks that you promised yourself would be done before Christmas, and which evenings will be free so that you can wrap up all those pressies and write festive geetings on cards. I’m sure everyone will agree that December is usually a hectic month, and you certainly need to keep yourself organised if you are to survive the holiday season and meet the New Year still smiling.
Despite the busy schedule, entering December also means the excitement of opening the first door of your advent calendar, a tradition i always look forward to as soon as Hallowe’en is past. Of course I always try to ensure that my Advent Calendar is full of yummy chocolate so that I can have a little tasty treat each day – I am a girl after all, and chocolate is our prerogative! However, my husband Craig always shakes his head and tuts at me as i rip open the first door and desperately stuff my face with the first delicious morsel of choccy. For Craig, when he was growing up, Advent Calendars were not about the chocolate inside but rather the excitement of opening the 24 doors before Christmas and uncovering a hidden picture each day: an angel, a star, maybe even a tree. Each day discovering a different element that evokes the spirit and excitement of Christmas. So i always keep an eye out in all the shops for a traditional Advent calendar sans chocolats so that he can continue this tradition. But unfortunately they are not so easy to come by these days, or perhaps i’m just not looking in the right places. Nevertheless, i decided that i could easily create a substitute Advent Calendar using my crafty skills. I was right of course!
This Advent Calendar is simple to make, and once you learn the steps to make the first pocket, then it’s just a case of repeating this procedure over and over again until all 24 pockets have been made. In my calendar, each pocket has a tag with a little rhyme written on it. The idea is that a treat can be hidden each day in a different location, and in a treasure hunt style each day you get a clue to lead you to the treat. This is great for either kids or adults, and the treats don’t always have to be sweet related either: perhaps a book, a pencil, or even a new pair of socks! However, if like Craig you prefer an Advent Calendar which does not focus on treats, it would be just as easy to put pictures or even photos on the tags. I even thought of how wonderful it would be to have a photo of someone taken over the first 24 years of their lives, one picture for each year – or perhaps the first 24 months of a baby’s life. Why don’t you give it a try and use your own ideas and style to decorate it.
The calendar itself uses 4 sheets of 12×12 cardstock – one to form the background and the other three will form the pockets. I have used 3 sheets of different designs to make the pockets, but you can make them all the same should you wish. Firstly, cut each of the three sheets of 12×12 cardstock lengthways so that each is cut into three strips of card 4″ in width. Then cut these strips into three so that each piece of cardstock creates 9 x squares of cardstock which measure roughly 4″ squared. Each square will make a pocket and you will need 8 of each design.
Take a 4″ square and place pattern side down on the table. Fold lengthways from the bottom up. Take the free edge at the top, and fold back upon itself by about 1/4″.
Flip the whole thing over horizontally (keeping the folded edge along the bottom) and fold the paper into thirds, folding the left hand side in towards the centre, and then the right hand side inwards. These two should overlap in the middle – gently tuck one inside the other to secure them in place. Don’t worry if this is not really neat as this is the back of the pocket.
Turn over to the front again and you will see the pocket taking shape – the folded flap exposes an opening where you will place the little tag. Fold each top corner above the flap into a triangle, and tuck inside to create the bevelled edge at the top of the pockets.
You now have a neat little pocket where you can place your tags. Remember that if you wish to attach a brad to the flap as i have done, you will need to do this before you fold the pocket into thirds, however it is easy to prepare all the pockets, mark the centre with a pencil and then unfold the paper, set the brad and reassemble in a matter of seconds.
I used the Quickutz squeeze dies to punch out the tags for the rhymes, the date tags, numbers and letters, but stickers or rubber stamps will have the same effect. For each pocket i have tied two tags together with some silk ribbon, and the idea is that each day you pull out the tags and slip the front tag over the front of the pocket, and the back tag stays inside the pocket. This way we can see clearly which tags have already been ‘opened’ and how many are left to go.
I must admit, the biggest challenge about this project was trying to invent treasure hunt rhymes for the tags, and some of them are pretty shameful. However if you want to give this project a try, or if you are just curious, you can send me an email and i will send you a copy of the rhymes that i have used.