How to Make a Modern Advent Calendar

Celebrate the coming of Christmas with a unique, modern take on the advent calendar.

Advent calendars are a fun addition to holiday celebrations. However, store-bought versions often lack imagination and seldom fit in with your holiday decorating theme. This year, try making your own advent calendars. These handmade versions offer complete control over the look and allow for bigger boxes to hold somewhat larger gifts. Best of all, these advent calendars can be used for many years.

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Materials Needed:

  • 12 paper maché boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • spray paint
  • drop cloth
  • adhesive numbers
  • 6-8 sheets decorative holiday papers
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • red foam drink insulator
  • hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • adhesive wall hangers
Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Spray the outsides of the boxes and lids. Allow to dry completely. Apply a second coat if necessary.

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Arrange the boxes in a group randomly with the tallest box close to the center of the grouping. When you have decided on the layout, remove the lids and arrange them in the same pattern. Add adhesive letters to the center of each of the lids. Use the layout of the lids to determine how the boxes will be numbered one through twenty-four.

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Determine which papers to use for each box. Use the bottoms of the boxes to draw an outline on the back of the papers. Draw another line about 1/4 inch outside the outline and cut out the shapes. Make small notches around the edges to allow for folding. Apply glue stick to the back of the papers and press them firmly into the bottoms of the boxes. Measure the sides of the boxes and cut strips of paper to line the insides of the boxes, overlapping the bottom papers. TIP: Cut small pieces of the papers to place in each of the boxes to see how it will look before starting. Use the same pattern in two boxes, but keep the boxes separated. 

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Cut small pieces of foam cup insulator (about 1" x 1"). With the lids off of the boxes, add foam to the boxes at each spot where they will touch another box using a hot-glue gun. The boxes should be on a flat surface and the foam should be added close to the bottom of the boxes to allow the lids to fit properly. Allow to dry completely. 

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Use adhesive wall strips to attach the box grouping to the wall. Be sure to use strips strong enough to hold the weight of the gifts that will fill the boxes.

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Fill the boxes with gifts before replacing the lids. Open the corresponding box for each day of advent. When it is over you will be left with a holiday decoration that can be left as it is or filled with small ornaments or other holiday decor. 

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Modern Holiday Advent Calendar

Holiday Advent Calendar

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

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