Now that Max is old enough to appreciate numbers, and of course to loooove "petents" (presents) I figure this is the perfect year to start the advent calendar tradition. I chose the muslin bag type instead of the wrapped boxes because it's easier to fill 24 bags than wrap 24 boxes while lying down but also because it looks so pretty and decorative strung across a wall. It was actually pretty easy to make and I had fun creating and choosing 24 tiny goodies to stuff inside.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
- 24 3x4 muslin bags (you can use a 5x7 bag for the 24th day if you want to fill it with a bigger treat or several goodies)
- non toxic craft paint like Americana in a deep red or green and white
- a brush (flat brushes with synthetic bristles hold the paint nicely)
- 24 small presents to tuck inside (or more if you have more little ones!)
HOW TO MAKE IT
Step 1: Begin by collecting a selection of small gifts
I collected random goodies like stickers and a harmonica and made some of the gifts by painting wooden animal puzzles like these...
I chose and a few special gifts like a vintage music box and some old cast iron jailer keys since he is currently obsessed with keys. An ebay search for "jailer keys" will bring up some fun inexpensive ones.
Inspired by friends, Anna and Sandra of Goose Grease I painted peg dolls to look like Max's grandma's. I have a new respect for the beautiful work the Goose Grease ladies do. It took me over an hour to paint these 2 dolls and they have plenty of imperfections (and I forgot to give them arms). It's hard to imagine creating them by the dozen and sale-quality.
I saved a collection of Nativity finger puppets by WeeKnit for the the special gift on the 24th to help with our lessons about the story of christmas. I'm hoping that through books and movies like this one he will have some idea of what christmas is really about by the time the 24th rolls around.
Step 2: Paint a number on each bag
I used Americana craft paint in Country Red. You can make stencils by printing numbers in your favorite font onto cardstock and then using an exacto knife to cut the numbers out. I didn't have the patience so I just painted them on freehand.
Step 3 (optional): Paint your clothespins
Apply a coat of white paint to the fronts, backs and sides to even out the varying wood tones. Clipping the clothespins to a piece of cardboard will make painting easier.
Next, paint diagonal stripes onto the clothespins using a piece of cardboard or a folded piece of paper as a guide.
Alternating the direction of the stripes will create a chevron pattern later when they are lined up side by side.
Step 4: Hang it up + have some fun!
Cut a piece of twine about 8-12ft long and secure it to the wall out of the little ones reach. Then pin each bag to the twine, overlapping them (with smaller numbers over bigger numbers) if necessary. To use less wall space you can also cut the twine to create 2 or more rows, placing one above the other. Open one goodie bag a day starting on December 1st and watch mini's eye light up each day with anticipation.
[Pictures by Bonbonmini]