DIY Christmas Advent Calendars

(Published on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, in The Daily Citizen, Dalton, GA.)

Recycle & Reuse: DIY Christmas Advent Calendar

 /* Style Definitions */
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
     Make your own Advent calendar this year using items you may already have waiting in your recycling bin. Use today’s newspaper to make paper cones to hold a treat for each day leading up to Christmas.   

Make your own Advent calendar this year using items you may already have waiting in your recycling bin. Use today’s newspaper to make paper cones to hold a treat for each day leading up to Christmas.  

Countdown the days until Christmas this year with a do-it-yourself Advent calendar made from materials you probably already have stashed in your home recycling bin. The Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count the days in anticipation of Christmas Day starting on December 1 and ending on December 24. Some calendars look like large cards with twenty-four small windows, one for each day leading up to Christmas. Beginning on December 1 a window is opened to reveal an image of the Nativity or even a small toy or chocolate.


Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. A traditional religious Advent calendar may include scenes of the Nativity, Bible verses, prayers, or daily devotions. However modern versions focus more on the treats, toys, and chocolates for children anticipating Christmas day. Instead of a Nativity scene, they may include illustrations of Santa Claus or even a characters from a movie.


Before you decide on which calendar to make choose what will go inside – such as ornaments, candy, etc. The items will determine the size of the pocket that is needed. Each calendar needs twenty-four numbered pockets, one for each day of Advent.


Next, you need to decide how you will display the calendar. Will you hang them up on twine and display them like a garland, or will they be stacked in the shape of a Christmas tree? Following are instructions for Advent calendars with pockets or containers to hold small items.


• Toilet Paper Roll Advent Calendar: To make your own personal advent calendar you’ll need twenty-four toilet paper roll tubes or twelve paper towel tubes cut in half. Also needed is a glue gun with glue sticks, a stapler or tape. Optional is acrylic craft paint and brush, gift wrapping paper, ribbons, mini clothes pins, and other small accessories to decorate the outside.


Get started by laying a toilet paper roll tube on the table vertically with one opening facing you, then flatten it. Use the glue gun or other adhesive to seal the bottom of the tube. Now you have a pocket to hold the treat or toy of the day. Flatten the remaining tubes then paint and decorate each one with the materials you have on hand. Label each tube by number starting with one and ending at twenty-four.


To display the calendar, you can pin each tube to a frame or directly on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree. Or using clothespins hang each tube on a ribbon and display it on the wall like a garland. Once you decide where to display the calendar you can put the candy or toys in each tube.


As you count down the days to Christmas invite children to take out a treat for the corresponding day of the month. Keep in mind that these pockets are open on top. If you prefer, seal the top and bottom opening to keep the treats top secret until the day they’re supposed to be opened.


• Newspaper Cone Advent Calendar: Use newspaper to make twenty-four individual cones to hold your treats. Take one page from the paper and cut it in half horizontally, then use it as a template to cut the other pages the same size. Starting at the bottom left corner roll the page up and adjust until you get the desired opening for the cone. Tape or glue the edge to hold the shape in place.


Number each cone from one to twenty-four then place the treats inside. Display the cones together in a basket to create a centerpiece. Use ribbons and other Christmas themed embellishments to decorate the cones and basket. Instead of newspaper, you could use other scrap paper like pages from a magazine, telephone book, or leftover gift wrapping paper.

Note: The tags with numbers featured in the photo are from a free printable PDF you can find here:


• Old Christmas Cards Advent Calendar: If you’re not feeling too crafty or are short on time use old Christmas cards from years past as an impromptu calendar. You’ll need twenty-four cards with a Christmas theme. Use a marker to write a number on each for the days of the month.


Inside you can write a message like a Bible verse, part of a Christmas story, or perhaps an activity your child can do that day. For example, a Christmas related activity could be ‘make Christmas cookies’, or ‘have a photo taken with Santa’. Display the cards in order on some twine like a garland, or place them on the mantel for everyone to enjoy.


Liz Swafford is the Recycling and Education Program Coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.  Have questions about recycling in Whitfield County? Call 706-278-5001, or e-mail