diy advent calendar

Hard to believe, that in a matter of days it will be December! It's by far my favourite month due in part to the fact that we celebrate not one but three birthday's in December (, my husband and son) along with all the festive activities that accompany Christmas. Talk about a month of celebrating! This year, I'm kicking off the month with my very own DIY advent calendar that I've spent the last couple of weekends working on. I love how it turned out and can't wait to put it on the wall and have Henry count down the days to Christmas.

Last year, when I was doing some last minute Christmas shopping I came across these small muslin spice bags at a kitchen store. I immediately thought they would make perfect little satchels for an advent calendar and snatched them up. I liked the idea of filling a small bag with a treat or craft that could be re-used over the years.

List of Materials:

-24 muslin spice bags (available at specialty kitchen stores)
- stencil and stencil paint brushes
- paint
- cotton string
- 22" x 28" paint canvas (I bought mine ready-made but you could also use plywood or MDF)
- self-adhesive cork
- fabric
- staple-gun
- 24 push pins
- 24 small ornaments or found objects

Before I began stencilling the bags, I tried out a few different paints to see which one I liked best. Martha Stewart's Glitter Acrylic Craft paint in Aquamarine Crystal was the winner. I then got to work stamping each bag waiting for one number to dry before I started the next.

I decided to use a pre-made canvas paint frame as my background. I figured it would be easy to hang on the wall and wouldn't be too heavy. In order to give my push pins something to grab onto I applied a layer of self-adhesive cork to the front of the canvas. I then wrapped the entire board in linen fabric. If  you've never done this before it is quite easy. Simply, centre the ironed fabric below the board and make sure it is taut. Then pull it tight on one side and staple it down using a staple gun making sure NOT to staple the corners. Repeat this same step on the opposite side. You should now have two sides partially stapled. Continue stapling the last two remaining sides pulling the fabric taut with each staple. Now, all you should have left to do is the four corners. In order, to make a neat corner, pull the centre of fabric up in a point towards the opposite corner and staple it down. You should now be left with two "triangles" of fabric. Fold one side over towards the corner and staple it down and repeat with the opposite side. The result should be a beautifully folded corner.

To attach the bags to the board, I simply wrapped the string from each stenciled spice bag around a tack I pinned to the board. I then made sure that each of the 24 small objects I had chosen also had strings so that as they are removed they can be hung on top of the empty bag to illustrate the day has passed.

The best part of this project was finding the 24 small ornaments and objects to fill the bags. I found some beautiful felt and wood ornaments at a paper store in Toronto that I couldn't resist. I also looked through our old ornaments and rescued a few small things like the silver ball and silver shooting stars that tend to get lost on the big tree. Pine cones, cinnamon sticks, acorns, berries and pine and cedar springs were all gathered from outside or from our kitchen. (The sprigs might need replacing right before the day they are opened but that's easy to do.) For the 23rd, which is my son's birthday, I found a small wooden Pinocchio doll with movable arms and legs and for the 24th I purchased a white, porcelain acorn that is weighty and beautiful and lovely to behold.

I honestly can't wait until the morning of December 1st when Henry gets to open the first bag. I remember very well as a child peeling back the doors on an advent calendar in anticipation of the big day. It was a small gesture but one that was laden with wonder and excitement. I hope I pass that same joy on to him. I also hope as the years go by and we bring this calendar out again and again that he starts to look forward to seeing certain objects and anticipates their arrival.

Hurry up December!!