Countdown to Christmas
Earlier this week, I shared some of my favorite Advent Calendars from across the interwebs. Today, I’m going to share a meaningful activity that will inspire the whole family to focus on the spirit of the season.
Thanksgiving has passed, and it’s now socially acceptable to begin the count down to Christmas. But let’s be honest, you’ve secretly been waiting for at least a month. One of the best ways to celebrate the most festive month of the year is with an Advent calendar. Instead of buying a generic version at the grocery store, craft your own calendar,and put it on display. I’ve pulled together a list of 15 of my favorite DIY Advent Calendars to inspire you.
Years ago I hand sewed a Christmas Tree Advent Calendar, which has become such a sweet tradition for our family. Ever since I was a young child, I absolutely loved Advent Calendars – usually the perforated paper variety in our home – to count down the days until Christmas. The anticipation was overwhelming each year.
I wanted to have that same tradition in our family – and I wanted to create something we could use year after year. I stumbled across this sweet calendar by Stitch Craft Creations. I fell madly in love with this idea and got to work, using her calendar as my guide.
I love exchanging “favorite things” with my girlfriends, and I love the idea of passing those things along here on the blog. I’ve tried all of these products personally, and my recommendations are not sponsored by any of the brands represented.
Here are just a few items I’ve been loving lately – I hope you find some new favorites!
Wet Brush I love this brush for my own hair, but I bought a second one when I realized it was the ONE way I could brush my daughter’s hair without tears. I even got the travel size! I wash and condition her hair in the bathtub in the evening, and then brush through it with this while it’s still wet. The next morning her hair is still mostly tangle-free, and I’m able to brush through it again easily. If she has any bad tangles when it’s dry, I’ll actually wet the brush or the area of hair to get the tangle out.
PopSugar Must Have Box I just love opening presents, and with this service it’s like getting the most amazing box of gifts from my BFF who knows me SO well each month. Seriously, this is a little luxury subscription that has introduced me to so many fabulous things in the past. I’ve shared this with many friends who have subscribed and feel the same way! When you sign up here, you can use one of the following referral codes to get $10 off! ABX17YZ or B213YMZ. (PS The upcoming October box includes Mindy Kaling’s newest book, “Why Not Me?“!)
Here’s a look at one of the recent boxes I loved, valued at more than $100.
Comfy statement clothes I have been loving ILY Couture lately because they have the cutest tees and sweatshirts in the coziest materials. I have this sweatshirt and this tee. See? I even can pull it off after a salon makeover by my daughter.
Gap 1969 Denim Sateen Jogger These are the most comfortable pants I own. I think I’ve been complimented on them every time I’ve worn them (and hurry, they’re on sale now!).
Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar Kit This one might seem a little random, but I love these Advent Calendars because they not only work great as a gift, but they also work great for inexpensive Star Wars party favors that are a HUGE hit each year (check them out here, along with more Star Wars favor ideas!). That’s just $1.66 for each favor that your party guests will actually use! Hurry though – these always sell out way before December!
Quick Pouch Lego Storage Bag Speaking of Legos, I love this storage solution. True story: my mother actually made this exact thing for my brother in the 70’s and we still use it for Dub to this day. For those who aren’t so lucky to get such an heirloom, there is this inexpensive, durable solution. I also bought a mini version for Dub to take on-the-go when we travel.
Roomba 880 Okay, so I definitely consider this a luxury item, but now that we live in a home with dark wood floors and three messy children, I don’t want to know a life without this little machine. We set it to run automatically overnight while we’re sleeping, and in the morning, our floors look great! That’s no small feat in our home, so we feel it’s been worth the price. Something to note for this vacuum though, when placed on a rug with bold black/white stripes/shapes as in this image, the vacuum gets confused. It uses variations in color like this to detect ledges and doesn’t work as effectively. If you have lots of rugs like this in your home. the Roomba isn’t going to perform as well for you.
Photo Triggers As a photography hobbiest, I’ve started realizing how few images I have with me in the shot. I want to remember myself as part of the family memories in this stage of life, so I’ve tried to get in the photo more. That means triggers. I have two:
So now, I’m getting more images like this. How else would I capture painting my baby’s piggies for the first time?
Expo Disc Speaking of photography, this thing has changed my photos for the better, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get it. I used to struggle with getting a good custom white balance I could trust, which lead to more time consuming post processing. With this, all I do is get my settings, place the Expo Disc over my lens and take a photo of the light source, then, remove the Disc, set my custom white balance as usual, and go! This company has lots of great video tutorials on the product to make it even easier. I highly recommend it!
Command Picture Hanging Strips Since moving to our new home, these babies have been a life saver. My husband hates hanging photos and leveling them. I “have trouble visualizing” which leads to more picture hanging…and holes in the wall. That’s not good for a marriage, folks. So, I buy these in the large packs and hang photos at my every whim. The best part is that If I don’t get it quite right, I just lift it off the wall and reposition it, as long as it still fits on the strip on the wall. If not, I just take them off the wall and start over again. Easy breezy. I’ve never had any trouble with these, but I use the strips that hold up to 16 lbs., just in case.
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Growing up, we didn’t really “do” favor bags. I suppose that’s why I’m really into them when planning parties for my kids. Presents for everyone, just for attending?! I wish grown-up parties would adopt this practice!
I wanted to do something fun for these Star Wars birthday favors, with at least a few items that would get used beyond the ride home from the party. But, of course, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.
To create the actual bag, I used inexpensive white paper bags from the grocery store. I searched for the keywords “storm trooper silhouette” and found an image I like. I downloaded this free Star Jedi font and added the words “You’re a trooper” to the 5.5″x10.5″ template I created in PhotoShop. Read to the end of this post for the free printable!
I printed the image directly on the bags. To do this, you need to go into your printer settings and create a custom paper size and paper texture. I used a small piece of painter tape to secure the base flap to the bag so it wouldn’t jam in the printer. It took some trial and error before I felt like they were printing a clean image, without a lot of extra printer ink. I was going for inexpensive though, so despite a few rough printouts, these captured the look I was going for.
Here are the bag contents:
Knowing all the boys are really into Legos at this age, I really wanted to include some. I explored a lot of avenues, but almost everything was going to be a budget buster. I’ve heard of some creative moms creating their own little sets using the Pick a Brick section at the Lego store, but at $14.99/bucket, it was going to be a little more than I wanted to pay, and I wasn’t even sure if I could really build a believable spaceship.
I found my solution on ebay and Amazon: there are tons of people looking to unload Star Wars Advent Calendar kits or individual toys. I was able to score a lot of 11 for $1/each including shipping. Even better, each little kit came with building instructions – far better than what I would have been able to do myself using Pick a Brick. For those of you who have messaged me about being unable to find these deals on ebay, you can still find them here for less than $2 per favor!
I created my own hangtag using the same Star Wars font with a message from Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try” along with a thank you message.
In addition to the goodie bags, we had a Jedi Training academy. We gave each little guest a Jedi vest made with an unused bed sheet we didn’t need and clothesline rope.
We also created the pool noodle lightsabers that are all the rage on Pinterest. We cut pool noodles in half using a serrated bread knife and decorated the ends with black and silver duct tape. Each little guest was given one to defeat some balloon storm troopers and then take home.These were the biggest hit of the party (literally, there was one bloody nose incident!).
No party is complete without a little craft, so we also had a Build A Droid work station that they seemed to enjoy. But not quite as much as the pool noodle light sabers, of course.
I had a lot of fun creating a fun party all the kids would enjoy. Planning a Star Wars party for someone special? I’m sharing the free printable Storm Trooper Favor Bag Design to my subscribers!
UPDATE: Due to so many requests, I’m making the Storm Trooper Party Favor Bags available as a free printable: Download Storm Trooper Favor Bags Template
Are you planning to use them for your upcoming party? Please take a moment to tell me about it, below!
As a kid, I absolutely loved Advent Calendars. You know, the little paper calendars with the perforated doors. Sometimes there was a Christmas picture behind the little paper door and sometimes a bible verse. It didn’t matter, I loved the process of opening on each day. I wanted to create an Advent Calendar tradition with my own children, but I wanted to create a keepsake – something they would look forward to getting out each year.
So, I went to the interwebs to find something to inspire me – and the pickings were slim. This was in 2008, a pre-Pinterest era, and there just wasn’t a lot out there I loved. Enter Stitchcraft Creations with her super cute felt calendar. With her pretty version as my guide, I embarked on “adventures in Advent Calendars.”