Alternative advent calendar ideas to craft a creative festive countdown

Anticipation, expectation and inspiration!
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  • Craft a one-of-a-kind alternative advent calendar and make December mornings extra special. While there are a number of amazing advent calendars to buy, sometimes it can be fun to spend a family day crafting an alternative advent for the whole family to share.

    From wall hooks filled with seasonal treats to ‘Noel notes’ offering a feel good message to start each day, a homemade alternative advent calendar idea can make the countdown all the more exciting.

    Alternative advent calendar ideas

    Crafting a homemade advent is a lovely Christmas idea to get the whole family involved with – to kick off festive celebrations in style.

    1. Create a Christmas ladder advent

    Alternative ladder advent calendar

    Image credit: Future/ Dan Duchars

    For a dramatic display that makes the most of free wall space, hang pretty ribbon-tied boxes from a vintage ladder and watch expectations climb every day.

    To create your own Christmas ladder advent fill mini boxes with treats, tie with ribbon and add a number to each. Once ready simply hang each box from a rustic ladder. If you don’t have a ladder you could use your bannisters.

    Style tip: you could hang baubles and s set of the best Christmas lights from the ladder as an alternative Christmas tree.

    2. Craft an alternative affirmations advent

    Affirmations advent calendar

    Image credit: Future/ Dan Duchars

    This idea is very of the moment, when mindfulness and affirmations are a welcomed lifestyle choice. Make it seasonal by crafting an alternative advent calendar bursting with envelopes filled with daily affirmations. An affirmations advent is sure to spread positivity in the lead up to Christmas.

    To craft your own version simply start by decorating mini envelopes and adding numbers. Print out or handwrite positive messages and acts of kindness on small cards to go inside each envelope. Present in an attractive box or basket.

    Buy now: Envelopes, £2.50 for 50, HobbyCraft

    3. Add a magic touch with conjurer’s cups

    Alternative advent calendar on mantel

    Image credit: Future/ Dan Duchars

    Create a festive magic trick by placing small gifts and toys beneath paper cups. Decorate each paper cup with numbers, paper shapes, pine cones and bottle brush trees to set the scene for the Christmas countdown.

    Choose paper cups in varying sizes to give your display depth. Using a hot glue gun, decorate the top of each cup with pine cones, bottle brush trees, or numbers for added festive charm. Ensure each cup has a number between 1- 24 to serve as each day of the countdown.
    Arrange the cups along a sideboard or mantle, or, as a table centrepiece. Vary height by propping some up on logs and finish with evergreen foliage and pinecones.

    Buy now: Gold Foil Polka Dot Paper Cups, £1.50 for 8, Hobbycraft

    4. Set out Noël notes for each day

    Alternative advent calendar with noel note scrolls

    Image credit: future/ Dan Duchars

    Make each day more thoughtful with an alternative advent of paper scrolls filled with daily acts of kindness, to give a little back at Christmas. Write acts of kindness on small pieces of paper (we cut A4 pieces of paper into quarters). Cut 24 strips of patterned paper approx 6cm x 4cm and secure the ends using double sided tape to create a little paper tube to hold each scroll.

    Then using self adhesive stickers number each tube 1 – 24. Roll up each note, securing with the paper tubes. Place the scrolls into a tray (we gave ours a festive feel by
    lining with Christmas wrap) and add in baubles for extra festive sparkle.

    5. Style secret Santa bags

    Alternative advent calendar with treat bags

    Image credit:Future/ Dan Duchars

    Create an Advent focal point with a rustic panel and simple printed calico bags, spruced up with some festive foliage and baubles.

    Use rubber stamps and inks to print numbers on to each bag, to make each day of advent. Lay the bags out on the board in 5 rows, equally spaced apart. Once you’ve spaced them evenly, use a ruler and spirit level to draw 5 horizontal lines for each row, then using
    a tape measure mark each place for a screw eye (ours are 15cm apart).

    Secure the screw eyes, to Hang a numbered bag of each day leading up to Christmas. Fill the bags with treats – these can be as imaginative as you like. Perhaps seeds for the garden, ingredients for crafting decorations, or a recipe for some family festive baking.

    Style tip: Replace the bags with hanging vases filled with festive foliage to make a seasonal display.

    6. Make an activity forest

    Homemade advent calendar with trees on cocktail sticks

    Image credit:Future/ Dan Duchars

    Simple trees placed into a log plinth make a Nordic-inspired Advent calendar that’s perfect for tiny spaces. On the back of the trees, write simple ideas for activities the family can do together in the lead up to the big day.

    Cut out three triangle tree shape templates from a piece of card (ours were 4cm wide x 6cm tall; 6cm wide x 7cm tall and 6.5cm wide x 9cm tall). Taking some patterned papers use the templates to cut out 24 pairs of trees (48 in total).

    Stick 24 wooden cocktail sticks (or trimmed wooden skewers into an old box or some playdough. Spray them with gold paint, following the instructions on the can. Once the sticks are dry, secure to the reverse of 24 of the trees using tape. Then using double sided tape,
    cover the reverse with the matching tree from the pair. The cocktail stick should be neatly sandwiched between the two patterned papers.

    Stick number stickers to the front of each tree and use a metallic pen to write your daily festive activities on the reverse. Take a drill piece that’s slightly smaller than the diameter of the cocktail stick and drill 24 evenly spaced holes into the slice of tree trunk. Place your trees in the holes.

    Buy now: Number stickers, £7.99 for 10 sheets of 1 – 50, Amazon

    7. Fashion a fun wall-mounted advent

    DIY advent with wall hooks

    Image credit: George Home; All items available at George Home

    The clever styling team at George Home are inspiring us with this quirky DIY wall-mounted advent solution. To recreate this colourful advent calendar attach four rows of six wall hooks (you could do this on a sheet of MDF as a backing board to save walls). Hang luggage tags labelled from 1-24 on each. Add a characterful decoration to add to the tree each day.

    For a fun countdown conclusion on the last day hang a Christmas stocking, ready for Santa to fill with gifts.

    8. Fashion an advent of socks

    Alternative advent calendar of mini socks

    Image credit: Future

    Think of this idea as opening a mini stocking each day! Take 24 socks, we’ve used baby ones for the cuteness – but you can use any style, and hang them along a line to form a stocking garland of sorts. Simply peg them onto the length of ribbon and attach numbers so each sock represents a day fro the countdown. Attach to the wall on existing picture hooks or suspend over the mantelpiece.

    9. Frame gift boxes filled with treats

    DIY advent calendar with gift boxes

    Image credit: Future/ Polly Eltes

    Create a picture perfect alternative advent calendar with this homemade design. Take a picture frame with depth or even an empty wooden drawer, any object that will create the solid wooden frame around your advent idea. Attach strips of ribbon across, to evenly fill the frame – measuring the size of the box frame to determine how many lengths you need.

    Use mini wooden pegs to attached lightweight gift boxes to each row of ribbon and attached chalkboard labels to the front of each, in order to number each box.

    10. Hang a cluster of Christmas advent gift bags

    Advent calendar with gift bags

    Image credit: Future/ Dominic Blackmore

    Set the scene for a fun Christmas countdown with a selection of festive gift bags filled with treats of your choice. Ideal for hanging above a festive fireplace, this alternative advent calendar features bags decorated with stars on a circle above a Christmas mantel idea.

    Original feature styled and written by Marie Nichols.

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