There is just under two weeks left until December kicks in and the whole world goes Christmas crazy. As I’m intolerant to many foods and follow a Paleo- Ketogenic diet, I struggled to find an advent calendar that contained dark chocolate. As a result I decided to make my own. If you wanted to avoid chocolate completely you could easily fill the pockets with a number of things like little love messages, poems, IOUs for things to do that day (e.g bake chocolate cookies, go to the park, watch a DVD) or even homemade gummies (if you’re Paleo, homemade gelatine sweets are great for promoting gut health!)… It’s all entirely up to you. I bought a range of dark chocolate from the company Cocoa Loco and then used pieces of kitchen foil to individually wrap them up.
What you use to decorate the calendar with such as type of paper, colours, embellishments, etc is up to you. I have given a list of craft sites that I buy from, but you can use whatever you have available. You see I’m a crafter and have built up my collection of papers over the years, so some of my items are probably 2-3 years old. The most important part is having enough space and the right tools for the job.
What you’ll need
8 – 10 pieces of coloured card (for the pockets) – I used black
4 pieces of card (for the backdrop/ sticking the pockets to) – I used black
2 pieces of A4 coloured card (for the number sticks) – I used 1 red/ 1 grey
1/2 A4 piece of card (for the number sticks – optional) – I used cream
Coloured paper (decorating the pockets with)
Double sided tape
Ribbon (to hang the calendar with)
A piece of cardboard the width of the backdrop (for securing the back of the Calendar)
- First of all decide how big you want the Calendar to be. I used 4 sheets of black card stuck together with Sellotape. Then I decided I wanted to lay my pockets out as a Christmas tree shape and chose to make the pockets a variety of sizes.
- To make the pockets you need to see diagram (1). Whatever size you want your pocket to be, a and b need to be the same size (width/length) as these make up the front and back of the pocket. Columns 1,2,3 and 4 also need to be the same size as these make up the sides of the pocket. When you are ready, using scissors or a craft knife, ruler and mat, carefully cut out the shape.
- Fold along the edges of the columns 1-4. You will need to cut where the lines meet in column 4 to stick the box together (See diagram above). Once folded and cut out, using double-sided tape, stick the edges and the base (I also dabbed on a bit of glue to give extra hold). Continue this method until you have 26 pockets (25 days + 1 pocket to hold the number sticks)
- Once all the pockets are made you can arrange them on your backdrop and then one at a time, take each pocket and decorate it using coloured paper, embellishments and whatever you want. I used a square of paper to cover the front then decorated it with gems, brads, cut out toppers and ribbon.
- When all the pockets are decorated you need to glue them into place on the backdrop. I used double-sided tape to position them, then added glue to give it that extra hold. Ideally, wait until the glue on the pockets has dried before doing anymore, if you can’t wait, just be careful not to disturb the pockets as they are drying.
- To hang the calendar make two holes at the top of the backdrop – I put in some eyelets (simply because I had some) – then thread some ribbon through the holes and tie off the ends into knots. See diagram 2 below.
- Once you have done this, take your piece of cardboard and using double-sided tape and glue, glue the card to the back of the top part of the calendar. (You can choose to cover this with paper/ card if you think it looks scruffy). This will help to give stability to the calendar when you hang it.
- Decorate the area surrounding the pockets, I used gems and cut out toppers.
- Now make the number sticks that you’ll put into the pockets. If you don’t want to make the sticks you can add the number onto the front of each pocket (you won’t need to make an extra pocket to keep the sticks in and can skip parts 9-11).
- Your number strips can be any size/ colour and style, they just need to fit into the pockets. I measured approx 4.5 cm across in grey and 4cm across in red then cut them between 5-8cm long, depending on the depth of the pocket. Punch little cream circles out of the 1/2 A4 card and various off cuts of coloured paper, these will be where you write the numbers on. Place the red strip on top of the grey strip and the two circles on top of each other (with the cream circle on top). Make a hole in the two circles and the two strips and pin them together with a brad (split pin). If you don’t have a brad, you can use some ribbon or cotton to tie them all together. Alternatively you can just glue the circles to the top of the stick. On each stick, write the numbers 1 – 25 on them, then slot a stick into each of the pockets.
- You’ll have one pocket that won’t have a number stick in it – that’s because it’s your collection ‘pocket’. Each day that you take a treat from one of the pockets, you’ll remove the number stick and put it into the collection pocket – I placed mine at the top left of my calendar (See main image).
- Once all the pockets have number sticks, wrap your chocolates individually in kitchen foil and slot them into the pockets (see diagram 5). I was able to fit two chocolates in each pocket – even the small ones – so that my husband and I can share the fun!.
- Optional – for the 25th (christmas day) you can choose to add an extra treat/ a larger piece of chocolate or even wrap up a small envelope of money!
There you have it – a homemade calendar that you can use time and time again
Every crafts a pound
This website has a wide range of goodies from papers, brads, toppers and all the tools you’ll need. Most items are £1, however there is a minimum spend of £20.
Whether you buy from a hobby craft shop or from their website they have everything and more! They often sell monthly grab bags for £15 filled with an array of products. These are great as the items usually add up to £30 if bought individually and you get enough to make a number of projects.
Many wilkos stores sell a variety of craft items such as papers, ribbons, toppers and embellishments. Most of the papers I used for this project were from a pack of papers I bought last year from Wilkos.