I decided to make a DIY Christmas advent calendar out of fabric last year. I’ve always loved advent calendars and the excitement of opening a little treat every day leading up to Christmas. But last year we decided to teach our girls the importance of time together and family traditions over monetary gifts.
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Most advent calendars have small containers the size of a small treat or toy. I needed something with bigger pockets so I could insert an activity or something symbolic of an activity into. My pockets were 8×6 and placed on my backing cotton which was about a yard. So the whole calendar measures around 60×36
The fabric I used for my DIY Christmas advent calendar was mostly calico cotton and some flannel. I actually preferred the flannel because it would static cling to the cotton backing while I was deciding on placement. In addition to the cotton and flannel fabric of your choice, other tools that I used for my DIY fabric advent calendar were my Cricut Explore Air and pink iron on vinyl, binding, and ribbon.
First I cut out my pockets, leaving a ½ inch seam allowance, then I decided on a layout pattern. I took pictures of my final decision just in case I messed up my stacks and forgot. Now I cut numbers 1-24 on my Cricut. If you use iron on like I did remember to reverse the picture! I also cut out the word ADVENT really big to put at the top.
While I had the iron out to transfer the numbers, I also folded the sides and bottom of the pockets about ¼ of an inch and ironed them flat. At the top the pocket is where you can add binding or ribbon, or you can leave it raw if the fabric is not prone to fraying. Doing this 24 times took me quite awhile! Don’t forget to iron on the ADVENT to the backing if desired.
Place the finished pockets on the backing in your pattern and pin. Sew the sides and bottom but leave the top open. I used one of my machine’s decorative stitches. Display the DIY fabric advent calendar on a wall by tacking it at each corner. It may also need a few more tacks in the centers.
Now what to put in the pockets?
Like I said, I wanted to steer away from cheap toys and candy in my DIY fabric advent calendar and focus more on family traditions and activities. For some inspiration, here’s a week’s worth of pocket fillers.
Christmas movie DVD (Movie night)
Small Nutcracker and Tickets (to see the ballet)
Clementine orange and whole cloves (pomander)
A Christmas cookie cutter (making cookies)
Paper, Christmas pen, and an envelope addressed to Santa (letters to Santa)
Christmas stickers (to decorate and play)
It doesn’t have to be overwhelming!
I will say it’s definitely harder to plan 25 days worth of Christmas family activities rather than just one chocolate a day. It’s even harder to actually do the activity that day and sometimes we forgot until the next day and just doubled up. But it is so worth it!
Last Christmas I didn’t have the same, “What do you mean it’s almost Christmas?!” Meltdown I used to have. You know the one. Where we moms run around the week before Christmas trying to jam pack as many Christmasy activities we can into those seven days. Then still coming down to Christmas eve feeling like you didn’t do all the things. Intentionally spreading these fun activities and family traditions over the 25 days is so much more peaceful and fills the whole advent season with joy rather than packing it into the week before. Not every day of advent has to be exciting! Notice one day of my examples is just giving the kids a pack of stickers. Another day might be reading a favorite Christmas story. Or maybe it’s a Christmas verse or hymn written on some Christmas Stationary for the family to ponder that day.
Something else we added to our advent season last year was this journal: A Jesus Christmas by Barbra Reaoch.
I highly recommend it if you are trying to keep your Christmas Christ focus and full of the Holy Spirit. Each day has something simple enough for kids to understand, but powerful enough for adults to draw from too. The journal provides space for drawing or writing about the message for the day, but we each kept our own notebooks and used those. That way we can use the journal again year after year. This fits in the pockets and would be a great pocket filler for the first day of Advent!
Whatever you decide to fill your fabric pockets with, I hope you have an intentional Advent season full of family togetherness and joy.