Give kids surprises each day as they count down to Christmas with this handmade Advent calendar. You'll need: cardboard gift wrap or toilet paper tubes; utility knife; hot glue gun; hot glue sticks; pencil; colored craft paper; rub-on letters and numbers or vinyl letter and number stickers; small toys, candy, etc.
In order to create a uniform Advent calendar structure, it's important to cut all cardboard tubes to the same length. Three inches works best on tabletop surfaces or for hanging on walls. Press the top of the tube nearly flush with the bottom, then cut to size using a utility knife. Repeat this step to complete the 24 days of the Advent calendar.
Place a small round object with 3 1/4-inch diameter on craft paper, then trace a perfect circle using a pencil. Next, use scissors to cut out the circle. The circle will be slightly larger than the opening of the cardboard tube, allowing the paper to wrap around its sides.
Gather a variety of toys and trinkets as mini gifts to receive each day leading up to Christmas Day. To ensure all objects fit, make sure they're small enough to fit inside the tubes without being squished.
There are two different ways to add numbers to the paper cut-outs — you can use rub-on letters and numbers or vinyl letter and number stickers. Rub-on letters must be placed on top of the paper, then transferred by rubbing the backs of their application sheets with a pencil or burnisher. Vinyl stickers simply can be peeled from their application sheets, then pressed in place firmly by hand.
Once all 24 days of the month have been added to the fronts of the cut outs, attach them to the fronts of the tubes by covering the openings with the paper and securing them in place around the sides with glue.
To create the shape of a Christmas tree, arrange the tubes in seven rows with six rows creating the upper part of the tree and its top and one row for the base. Lay all tubes out on a flat, level surface, then attach them to one another with glue.