Thursday, December 1, 2011

Get Crafty: the Advent Calendar

A couple of weeks ago I was cruising through the craft store when I saw an unfinished wood advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree. I breezed by it at first but then found myself heading back to get another look. It had 24 little drawers with pull knobs. "How fun would it be to paint that...?" I thought to myself. At $25 it was more than I would probably spend on a finished advent calendar, so I decided to head home and wait for my weekly "50% off one item" coupon* to appear in my email box and then went back to buy it.

I went through several different ideas of what to do as far as decorating it, and my original idea was to get some colorful number stickers and seal them onto each painted drawer with something like Mod Podge. Unfortunately, apparently, there are no such thing as sheets of number stickers. I looked high and low and all I could find were alphabet stickers with some numbers on the bottom of each sheet, which seemed like kind of a pain. I mean, think about it. Do you know how many number 1's are needed for an advent calendar?! I would have to buy sheet after sheet!

Finally I found some little wooden numbers at a craft store. They were not priced and I just grabbed what I needed and hopped into line...where I stood for the next 20 minutes. When I finally got up to pay I was shocked to discover that each of those little suckers was $0.90 each. I'll let you do the math, but all in all it makes my refusal to pay $25 for the tree itself seem kind of silly. Anyway, I bought them and justified it with the thought that I was creating an heirloom that would be used year after year and you just can't put a price on that...which is how I explained this purchase to my husband. If you don't want to spend $30+ dollars on little wooden numbers you can always just write them on with a gold or silver pen.

I had a lot of crafts paints from several different projects so I only had to buy a couple more to have all the colors I wanted. Craft paints are a great deal - they cost around a dollar and are great for lots of projects.

It took me a bit to decide on what I wanted to put in each drawer. I thought about little gifts, but to be honest between my tendency to buy her things every outing year round and the absolute gift-fest that is Christmas between our two families, it seemed like a bit much. And she really doesn't have much of a sweet tooth...I wanted something that would be magical and fun and exciting for her. Then I saw these mini tree ornaments. For a $1 each with multiple ornaments per bag, they are the prefect size and length to hang on each drawer pull and "decorate the tree" as we get closer to Christmas.

To be honest, the hardest part about this project was deciding on all the components. Once I knew what I wanted to do it didn't take very long at all. A couple of nights painting at the table, listening to Christmas music. Personally I find this kind of painting to be very fun and relaxing! I did apply a glossy seal to each drawer to protect them and give it a little shine.

I'm very happy with how it turned out and Hannah can't wait to open the first drawer this afternoon...

How the tree looks now...
How the tree will look on the 24th

Now that H is 3 it really feels like she's getting into all these traditions that we're starting, both old ones that my husband and I are bringing from our childhoods, and new ones we're creating...What sort of holiday traditions are you doing with your families this year?

*Just a little tip about coupons....Michael's and A.C. Moore both almost always have weekly coupons on their websites and via email for 40-50% off one item. These are not only great for larger projects (like a wooden Christmas Tree) but also for children's gifts. They both have great art and creative play based toys, including a lot of Melissa and Doug. Definitely worth checking out if you're looking to save some money on your toy shopping...