Ahh, Christmas. My absolute favourite time of the year. Twinkle lights everywhere, fresh baked gingerbread, the smell of pine needles, the magic of that first snowfall… I could go on and on. Last year I decorated the house and put up our tree exactly one day before the festivities began so this year I’m getting a head start on all things Christmas. Including throwing together a quick and easy DIY advent calendar!
I was inspired by this absolutely gorgeous advent calendar from Weekday Carnival. I love the idea of using nails and thread on a piece of wood to create a modern piece of art but I wanted to change up the shape to be a little more tree-liked. I also made the numbers into little envelopes and added tiny clothespins to allow them to hold a bit more weight. The major selling point though? This entire project cost me all of $3! I had everything lying around but the mini clothespins. Yay for DIY project leftovers!
Here’s how to make your own Scandinavian-inspired advent calendar (including a free printable for the numbered envelopes):
- large piece of of wood (mine is a leftover piece of plywood I had lying around measuring approximately 60x70cm)
- white paint (optional)
- 9 nails
- thick black thread or other non-stretchy twine
- mini clothespins
- white card stock (regular paper is fine too if that’s all you have lying around)
- paint brush + bucket (optional)
- sponge (optional)
[ Step 1 ] Cut your piece of wood to size or have Home Depot do it for you if you’re buying a new piece. (Mine is about 60 x 70cm but really any size is fine.)
[ Step 2 ] I decided to white-wash my wood to make it a bit lighter and more muted. (If you like your piece of wood as is, just skip this step.) This was my very first attempt at white-washing but it was super easy. Just mix equal parts latex paint with water (the ratio can vary depending on what finish you’re after), brush on with a paint brush, and then wipe off the excess right away with a sponge. Easy peasy! It took me all of about 3 minutes to do my piece of wood.
[ Step 3 ] Once your paint is dry, mark your nail holes and hammer in your nails (I photoshopped the nail holes way bigger in the left photo because they were impossible to see). If you’re using the same size wood as me, here are the measurements I used:
- The side holes are all 10cm from their corresponding side. The two bottom holes are 10cm from the bottom.
- The other two holes on either side are 14cm apart (so at 24cm + 38cm from the bottom).
- The middle three holes are measured at the same distances but from the top – aka, at 10cm, 24cm + 38cm from the top (and right smack dab in the middle of the wood, aka at 30cm from each side).
[ Step 4 ] Wrap your thread or twine around three nails at a time to make three separate triangles. I first tied the thread to my first nail and then wrapped the thread around each nail a couple of times to make it more stable. Once I got back to the first nail I tied the end pieces together. I then did a second pass with the thread, this time wrapping the thread around the nails in the opposite direction so that I got two distinct thin lines.
Here’s a close up of my second pass around the three nails. With the first pass,I looped the thread clockwise around each nail. And now, with the second pass, I wrapped the thread around the nail in a counter-clockwise direction. This creates the double line look.
You could stop now for a nice and minimalist piece of wall art. I definitely considered not continuing because I love how it looked as is but, alas, I thoroughly enjoy Christmas traditions and an advent calendar is pretty high up on my list of favourites.
[ Step 6 ] Print the templates. If your size of wood is radically different you might want to scale the pages accordingly. (My envelopes are about 2″x2″ for reference.)
[ Step 7 ] Cut out all of your petal-shaped envelopes.
[ Step 8 ] Turn your envelope around and fold each “petal” piece towards the middle to create a square with four overlapping sides.
[ Step 9 ] Place your gift inside the envelope. I filled mine with stickers for my kids, folded up colouring pages, scavenger clues (where they could find a slightly bigger gift that didn’t fit inside), and little notes for fun things they get to do that day (like bake cookies or go to the aquarium).
[ Step 10 ] Interlock your “petals” by folding them down one at a time and tucking the last corner under the first piece. If you’re using card stock and filling with light items (like stickers or little handwritten notes), then this will hold just fine, otherwise glue down three of the sides or add a piece of washi tape like I did here.
[ Step 11 ] Attach your envelopes to your tree using the mini clothespins. I put some on top of the string and others in between or below, so that the outline of the tree wasn’t completely obscured.
That’s it! Now put your calendar in a pretty corner of your house and watch as your kids gleefully open that first envelope on December 1st. (Or if you’re like me last year, on December 10th when I finally got around to filling our calendar. Good thing toddlers don’t know dates yet haha.)
In this post:
Bloomingville Merry Christmas banner + diamond ornament | Zana stockings (1, 2) | IKEA white candleholders, black candleholder + plant pot | House Doctor black candle holder, star candle holder + striped vase | H&M candle (similar) | Amazon stocking hangers