Studio Musings

Friday, December 2, 2016

Advent Calendars, a Favorite Holiday Tradition

my hand-painted advent calendar
December 1st marks the start of my Christmas season.  Time to pull out the Advent Calendar.  When we were children, Mom would buy the cardboard calendars with little doors, some had candy, the one I remember most simply had the Christmas story told over 24 days.  As a childless adult, I'd abandoned the tradition until I happened upon the tree-shaped calendar with little boxes I wrote about back in 2013.  I love trying to find fun, new ways to fill each day; ways to awaken my holiday spirit.

The boxes are small, a little over an inch square, so it's kind of tricky finding things that will fit.  I had a great time searching Pinterest for ideas. Some of my favorites:
 *  Krista's Christmas Countdown Activities
 *  Coffee Cups & Crayon's Random Acts of Kindness calendar. 
 *  Idealist Mom - lots of ideas for fun little activities and do it yourself advent calendars. 
All of these blogs have free printables, (and several have links to their Etsy stores).  But one of my favorite pins - a nicely written compilation of the nativity story - didn't link to a current site. So I decided to make my own version - a set of little "books", and while I was at it, I decided to make a separate set for Clement Clarke Moore's, The Night Before Christmas

And in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I would share.

I saved the designs in three separate PDF files:

If you'd like the original Illustrator files so you can do your own editing, let me know and I'll send you a link.

I then trimmed the pages into separate strips

Trimming the pages into separate strips

Then folded the strips into thirds, making sure my first fold fell between the two text blocks, and my second between the text block and the little number (the numbers help me keep the finished books in their proper sequence).

Folding the strip into thirds
Check to make sure all three sections are the same width.  I'd forgotten to trim the left-most edge for several of strips.  So I had to do that next.  The simplest way to mark where to trim is to fold the two ends in towards the center and mark the overhanging edge.

Marking the left edge so I can trim it away.
Next I accordion-folded the left and center sections.

accordion folding the first two sections
I finished the book by wrapping the 'cover' backwards around the book, then gluing it in place.

Wrap the cover around the other 'pages' and glue in place
And that's all there is too it!   You can use this folding technique for all sorts of little projects.  The great part is you only need to print on one side of the page to create a little book and cover.

Finished 'books'.  I used a gold marker to cover any white showing on the covers

I also put together a couple of pages for my Cricut Cutter. 

Want to play with this design?  Here's the link

Here's a link for a full page of ornament-style tags. 

I try to fit as much onto each page as possible.  The chinese-lantern shaped ornaments should be free, whether or not you have a Cricut Access subscription.  The rest might cost something to cut if you don't already have a subscription.  (I renewed my subscription for the holidays, and will cancel in January, because it's really nice to be able to use the stock designs for faster holiday crafting.  I designed the page layouts for 8 1/2 x 11" cardstock (I used white index paper from Office Depot). 

Notice the text in the first file?  It's really fun watching the machine write.  In this case, I used Faber-Castell Pitt Fine Art pens in black and sepia.  They fit perfectly in the machine. 

Cricut 'drawing' Christmas designs on paper
Once I removed the cut designs from the mat, I decorated them with glitter paper, cut snowflakes, and twine.

Decorated ornament tags
And finally it was time to stuff the calendar boxes.  I start with any date-specific activities (picking out our Christmas tree, cookie decorating party, etc.) and then fill boxes from there.  Almost every box had at least two little things in it. 

Last night we opened the first box - it had the start of the Nativity story, and a question ornament "What is your favorite Holiday tradition?".  That started a fun conversation about Christmases past.

And I'll finish this post with two questions.   Do you do any crazy holiday crafting - what sort?  What's your favorite holiday tradition?

Happy Holidays!

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