Monday, 25 November 2013

Quick and easy makes - advent calendar

I like to make advent about more than just chocolate (not that there's anything wrong with chocolate!).  While we aren't church-goers, advent is still a time of preparation.  With young children, twenty-four days seems like an awfully long time.  Doing something small and special every day to gradually prepare for the big event, while also counting down the days is a way to ease them through the process, get them in the frame of mind for the type of Christmas that you want, and help out with the essential preparations.

Make a list of twenty-four different activities.  Take your time over this, because you want to make things achievable.  Use your diary - on days when there are already Christmas events happening, make that your activity for the day (Pre-school Christmas party, Scout District Carol Service, theatre trip etc.).  On days when you're going to be very busy, keep your activity short and easy, and leave more involved activities for the weekend.  Check out the local papers to find out when carol concerts or Santa visits are planned in your area.  Think about when you need to get tasks done (I make Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and Christmas cards at the beginning of the month, as they either need to be posted or need time to mature!).  Put each activity on the appropriate day in December.

Now think about how you are going to display your activities.  In the past I've had folded cards stuck to the fridge or hanging from a tree branch, with the number on the outside and the activity on the inside.  I've also made advent calendars out of 24 match boxes made into a little chest of drawers so there's space for a sweet too (I'm still working my way through all the matches!).  This year I decided to make a fabric Christmas tree shaped advent calendar.  I used spare fabric leftover from when I made my table runners and napkins about three years ago.

  1. Cut out the tree shape and hem.
  2. Cut out strips of fabric to make the drawers and stitch a hem for the top and sides.  Stitch the bottom of each strip to the tree, then fold upwards to create the pockets.  Stitch up the sides to make the pocket sides.
  3. Use fabric paint to write on the numbers.  Again I had some left over from making my table runner and napkins.
  4. Use PVA glue to stick on the pot for the tree and a star for the top, and trails of sequins and sparkles to jolly the tree up.
  5. Pop your activity for the day, along with a treat of your choice (mini-Christmas decoration for a mini-tree / chocolate?).

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