How to Make a Spectacular DIY Advent Calendar
With the holiday season quickly approaching and my toddler reaching an age where he can learn from and enjoy holiday learning activities, I set out to find an Advent calendar that our family would enjoy.
However, I couldn’t find one that was suitable. Some were filled with chocolates, some were filled with gifts (I don’t want him to get caught up in the gift aspect of the holiday), and some had numbers that were too small or simply didn’t stand out enough for a toddler to easily recognize.
So I did what I do best – I created my own.
And I’m sure you can easily guess that I made the homemade Advent calendar out of felt. This year has definitely been the year of felt for me 🙂
I’m going to cut right to the chase since we are already a few days into December! It was a little time-consuming, but I love the way it turned out. It provides quite a few learning opportunities, and we can use it year after year.
Homemade Advent Calendar Materials
- Green Felt – for the tree and bottom layer
- White Felt – or other background color
- Felt Pieces in various colors – (I bought a new package for more colors but ended up using scraps I already had)
- Free Printable for the Tree Outline (keep scrolling for printable and instructions)
- Hot Glue Gun – for attaching the felt
- Numbers – Make sure you have enough for numbers 1-25.
- Ribbon – for attaching the ornaments to the tree
- Buttons – to hang the ornaments on
- Basic sewing materials – thread, needle, scissors – for attaching the buttons to the felt but you could skip this and use hot glue
- Wooden dowel – for hanging
- Decorative ribbon, if desired
How to Make the an Advent Calendar out of Felt
I was excited to get to work on the homemade Advent calendar. I started with the background and large pieces and worked my way down to the ornaments.
Making the Background and Tree
First, I cut the large felt pieces, and I must say, this was the hardest part. I simply am terrible at cutting in a straight line. Why don’t squiggly scissors work on felt?!
I cut a piece of white background to be 18 inches by 22 inches. My reason for this was that I already had an interactive alphabet of this size hanging from a wooden dowel. I figured I could borrow the dowel; although I ended up finding another one in the garage.
After that, I drew a Christmas tree onto green felt using a sharpie. It took me a few tries to get all of the branches right and to maximize my use of felt. I really marked up the back of it.
To save you the same work, I am sharing the outline that I drew. It’s on two sheets of paper, and I want to note that the bottom of the Christmas tree was a little too big for standard paper.
Therefore, the second page looks like it cuts off. However, it’s not a mistake – the tree was just a too wide. So I let it run off the edges, figuring it would be easy for you to just connect these few lines – easier than drawing your own tree, at least 🙂
Click here for the tree template.
Next, I cut a little brown rectangle out of my felt scraps for the tree stump.
Then I hot glued the tree and the stump to the white background.
Attaching Buttons To The Advent Calendar
Even though felt sticks to felt, I wanted to use buttons and ribbon for this Advent calendar to provide another learning opportunity to my son – using buttons.
I found 25 buttons from a collection that I had. I love these buttons – especially their varying hues and textures all although within the same color family.
First, I spaced the buttons out, and then I sewed them on. Also, I put four buttons under the tree for the presents I was going to make.
You also could hot glue the buttons; however, I wanted the sewed look 🙂
Making Ornaments For The Advent Calendar
Now came the daunting part – 25 shapes to make! Yet, an idea dawned on me… cookie cutters! I used my Christmas cookie cutters to trace a bunch of the shapes – the gingerbread man, snowman, and candy cane, to name a few.
If you are trying to cut down on the work, you could use just a few shapes and repeat them.
The rest of the shapes I outlined or I just cut. If I’m not sure how to draw something or I want a shape simplified, I google an outline of it.
Looking at just the outline makes it easy to emulate. I did that with the angel, and she turned out great!
ADDING DECORATIVE RIBBON
My shapes were looking a little boring, so I used holiday ribbon to spruce them up. Just a line of ribbon here and there, actually, went a long way in turning my boring felt shapes into cute pieces.
For example, on the snowman (pictured above), I used a line of ribbon instead of buttons.
The line of ribbon on the train spruced up its plainness. And, even the faceless gingerbread man look pretty spiffy. I didn’t want to fill them up too much though because I still had the Advent numbers to add.
ADDING RIBBON HOOKS
Next, I needed to attach ribbon to the felt, so the ornaments could hang from the buttons on the Christmas tree. I used this green ribbon (from our wedding programs!), and simply looped one end around the other.
To keep the loop, I put a bead of hot glue to hold the overlapping ribbon pieces (right above where my finger is).
Once glued, I added another bead of hot glue to the criss-cross and attached it to the back of the ornament.
ATTACHING THE CALENDAR DATES
Next, I needed to add the dates. I went to Michael’s specially to pick these up – got caught up in all the sales, and completely forgot about it.
Not wanting to waste another trip out to a craft store (and not wanting to wait for Amazon prime delivery – two-day seemed like too much!), I started to cut-out my own numbers out of felt using a template. They looked horrible! It was just too many imperfect twos!
The next day, I picked the below numbers up at Michaels.
They are simply adhesive cardboard numbers, so they didn’t stick that well. I had to use hot glue to give them a good stick – and that was a lot of gluing plus a burnt pinky.
In hindsight, I should have gotten felt ones from Amazon. They have a bunch of felt numbers. When you do purchase your numbers, make sure you have enough 1s and 2s.
With these adhesives, at first, I wasn’t crazy about the sharp contrast that the glittery black created, but it’s grown on me.
And, they are very easy to read, which makes them perfect for my toddler.
When you are sticking on the numbers, make sure to lay them out ahead of time. Put the single-digit numbers on the smaller ornaments – to make sure that every number has a good shape to fit on.
I barely was able to squeeze the 25 onto the star, since the star is the last thing that goes on the tree 🙂
The ornaments look so cute – and I think it was that ribbon 🙂 Faceless gingerbread man is definitely my favorite, yet, Frosty is a close second.
After the ornaments for the homemade Advent calendar were done, I went back to the tree. It looked a little drab with the white background, so I cut yet another piece of green felt and hot glued it behind the white. It provided a border, a little depth, and hid my sewing.
The tree still looked like it needed a little sprucing up (haha get it?!), so I ran a line of ribbon across the bottom.
I also used this same ribbon to create tabs to run the wooden dowel through. I was planning to use felt for this, but the ribbon was perfect – and tied it all together.
Here’s a close up of a the completed DIY Advent calendar.
I love how the homemade Advent calendar turned out, and my son is learning a ton!
He is learning to follow a number sequence, identify holiday shapes, create connections between the items on this tree and the items on our real trees, apply his fine motor skills on the use of buttons, and practice responsibility, as it is his job every day to find and hang up the next number.
He also loves that he has own tree and ornaments and that he doesn’t have to ask mommy in advance if he can touch them 🙂
Here is the entire tree, with some of the ornaments hanging. In the second picture, you can see how the tree is hanging.
The calendar is going to be a little crowded when all of the numbers are on – but they all do fit, and the homemade Advent calendar is the perfect size for small spaces and doors.
Not only do I love a great learning activity, but I love holiday traditions. This homemade Advent calendar will now be one in our home 🙂
What an adorable idea. I wish I would have read this earlier. I want do this for my kids for sure!
Thanks, Barrie! It’s not too late – I just finished this one a couple of days ago:))
Thanks, Lisa!! We are enjoying it 🙂
This is such a pretty advent calender. I really like how you have placed the buttons so that each day can hang like that. I host a link party every Friday called Sweet Inspiration and hope you can join us with your lovely craft.
Hi Mary, Thank you so much! I would love to post the Advent Calendar on your site:) See you then!
I really love this idea. Your advent calendar turned out so cute!
Thanks so much, Angela! We are enjoying it :))
What a cute idea. Too bad I already made one. This will be it for next year. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Camille – Aww I’m sorry I should have posted it sooner! Thanks for reading:))
How cute is that?! The buttons are a perfect way to make it easy for little ones, and keep it from looking too bare at the start. Thanks so much for sharing at the #happynowlinkup!
Thanks so much, Leslie!! Yes, the buttons are working out great so far:)) Have a great weekend!
All those bright colors and textures are abSoooooLutely perfect for little fingers Eileen. Love the idea of hanging each date from a button, that’s super cool.
Thank you so much, Michelle!! My little one is enjoying it so much!! :))
Oh what a great post! I love this. And your tutorial is great. Thanks for sharing.
I hope you’ll come over and link at The Countdown to Christmas!
The party is over here:
Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for your compliments! I’ll be sure to link up there! Thanks again 🙂
So very cute activity for young toddlers as well. And also gets you to bond some more. Thanks for sharing at the Pit Stop 🙂
Hi Julie – Thanks!! Yes, I agree – it’s something fun to do each day:))
What a fun and easy project to make. Thank you for sharing at Dishing it and Digging it link party. We love having you.
Thanks, Vanessa!! :))
I love this calendar!! It’s so festive and fun! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY Party!
Thanks so much, Helen!! 🙂 We love it too:)
This is such a fun idea. I wanted to invite you to link up with us at Family Joy Blog Link Up Party . Check us out http://ow.ly/r1AY30715lX
Thanks so much, Charlene! I love your link party – just posted there yesterday! Hopefully we’ll be a feature soon 🙂
This is super cute! I love the idea of the buttons as hooks. Your tutorial is fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing this at the #happynowlinkup
Thank you so much, Jen!! We love your link party :))
Eileen, how adorable! When my son was young we use to always make an advent calendar … he loved seeing the countdown to Santa lol xo
Carla, thank you! Aww it is simply the best to do Christmas activities with little ones 🙂
Thanks for partying with us at Vintage Charm, Eileen–so lovely to meet you and see your wonderful projects. Your advent calendar is adorable!
Diana, lovely to meet you too! Thank you so much:)
Love your 25 days of Christmas tree.
Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,
Thanks, Bev! Thanks for hosting it:))
Thanks so much, Jess! I would love to 🙂
This is such a cute idea! My girls would love it! Thanks for sharing with us at Share The Wealth Sunday!
Thanks, Lisa!! My son loves it – and there’s so many ways to incorporate learning 🙂
That is spectacular! What a great idea to use cookie cutters to help get the right sizes and shapes. I co-host a weekly arts and crafts linky party and we’d love to have you link up with us. http://www.ourunschoolingjourney.com/2017/11/virtual-refrigerator-rubber-stamp-and.html
Thank you so much! Would love to submit to your link party:)
This is absolutely amazing, what a great idea! #BrillBlogPosts
Thanks Naomi! It was fun to make:)
This is just so lovely! My nine year old would love making this for herself…off I go to stock up! #sharingthebloglove
Aww that’s great! Hope she has a great time making it:)
Cute and fun idea for the kids to decorate their own tree. I have grand plans of making a new Advent calendar this year (Dec. 1st is coming way too fast!) to keep my 8 year old still believing, excited and thinking that our Elf still brings the calendar with him. Love how you used cookie cutters to make the shapes. Visiting from Creatively Crafty party.
Haha yes the holidays just fly right by! The elf and calendar is a great idea:)
Ohhhh I love this! Its so cute x #SharingtheBlogLove
Thanks Kimberley! It was fun to make:)
Nice idea! I bought one hand-made for our goddaughter (9 y.o.) and filled each space with one candy and an empowering message.
Sounds great, Paola!
Super cute! We have an Advent calendar packed in a storage box somewhere…maybe I need to make one!
Love this idea. Very creative. I am sure the kids will love doing this project.
This is such a cute idea! Felt always has such a charm about it, and the buttons and ribbons just add to that. The cookie cutter idea for all the shapes is genius, we have so many to choose from! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
This looks like it would take awhile, but what a great finished product! I just love those glitter numbers!
What a lovely advent calendar. Can I try it?
As I would like to try it including my grand kids.
Thank you for sharing it.
I adore this. I have a feeling it will become a very treasured part of your family Christmas for many years to come. #KCACOLS
This looks incredible! I love the finished product, and all the detail in there, I’m sure you will enjoy it for many years to come #kcacols
This is such a fun and cheery Advent calendar! Thanks for sharing with Party in Your PJs. 🙂
What super advent calendar great job Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week
How lovely, and there’s just time to get this made for this year too. I do love a good advent calendar project.
Very cute! One year I made 3 different advent calendars. 🙂 No longer having children at home I just made them for décor. Thanks for sharing with SYC.
I love your cute calendar, and I agree that we don’t need chocolate or gifts for Advent. #MMBC
I love a good advent calendar and I love the idea of making my own
That’s really cute, and I think it’s less work than painting and decorating the brown box one I got at Hobby Lobby! 11/27, and I’m still frantically trying to finish and fill that thing. Oops.
Love this and it’s so pretty too. Hanging them with buttons is a great idea. #TwinklyTuesday
Oh this is gorgeous! So cute! And I think even me, with my very limited craft skills could manage this. It looks so bright and festive when all the pieces are hanging on it! #dreamteam
Absolutely love this idea! I actually have a whole load of leftover felt, so I might try making this 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday
You are really clever, this looks amazing. My girls would love to have something like this, but I definitely do not have the skills to do it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
Absolutely adorable! Thanks for joining the To Grandma’s House We Go link party! Your post has been pinned!
WOW well done! Looks like a lot of work went into it. 🙂
What a cute idea!
I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/
Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!
This looks great, what a fab idea! Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS, hope to see you again next week.
This is a really cute advent calendar. You obviously had lots of fun putting it together. Beautiful work. The home made advent wreathes are so much nicer than the purchased ones are.
What a lovely idea to do with the kids as well. I have a Chris challenge to do for school so might give this a whirl! Thanks for sharing #DreamTeam x
I wish I’d seen this earlier. I don’t think I’ll have time to make it now but it’s a lovely idea. #sharingthebloglove
Hi, I Love personalised advent calendars I wish that U had seen this earlier. Never mind it would be great for next year #sharingthebloglove
I have now shown this to my little lady and she is beavering away to try and get it ready. She loves the idea! #sharingthebloglove
It’s lovely! Cookie cutters are great for these projects. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!
That looks awesome Eileen! Thank you for sharing this at the Friday Favorites linky party! 🙂 I hope you’ll come back next week to link up your projects so I can stop by again!
This is so neat! I love all the details! I’m even featuring it at this week’s link party. https://www.thelifeofjenniferdawn.com/2017/11/creative-christmas-tree-crafts.html
This is great, what a fab idea. You are very clever! I hope you enjoy it for years to come! Thanks for linking up to #TriumphantTales
This is a wonderful creation made with love. We haven’t gone down the chocolate advent calendar approach either. #SharingtheBlogLove
Oh I really like that. And the focus is on the lead up to Christmas and not just getting a treat every day. #kcacols
I think next year I will have to think outside the box for my little lady’s advent calendar. Thank you so much for linking g up for #KCACOLS and hope to see you next time.
This is so cute! I love the use of buttons for attaching the ornaments. Thanks for sharing it with us on the Homestead Blog Hop! We hope to see you again next week!