How can I reuse or recycle advent calendars?

Advent CalendarIt’s that special day when children (and big kids) up and down the land will open their Tweenies/Hannah Montana/High School Musical/perhaps even Christmas-themed advent calendar and “enjoy” the piece of grey-ish lump claiming to be chocolate. Only 24 more greyish lumps until Christmas, hurrah! say the children.

“Chocolate”-filled advent calendars only really popped onto my radar in my early teens and I have a sneaking suspicion that before then we used to just use the same advent calendar each year – the doors carefully pressed closed again when everything went back in the loft in January. Even if that wasn’t the case, they’d have been easier to recycle because they were just sheets of cardboard rather than the present cardboard/plastic/cardboard sandwiches.

So any ideas for reuses? I guess the cardboard could be torn off for reuse/recycling but without the cardboard, is the plastic at all sturdy enough to be used for Zac Efron* shaped jelly moulds or whatever?

And, to avoid this waste in the future, anyone know of any good reusable ones – or got instructions on how to make them?

(On a related note, I’ve updated our Recycle This Guide to Recycling At Christmas for 2008 – but if you can think of anything else to include or great suggestions I’ve missed, do let me know.)

* He’s the dreamy hunk guy in High School Musical. I know far more about all this stuff than anyone could ever want to know. I also can identify/name each of the Jonas Brothers and know the difference between Selena Gomez and her BFF Demi Lovato. No self-respecting 29 year old should know this stuff. Bah.

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10 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle advent calendars?”

  1. I’ve successfully used melted chocolate and re-used a calendar before. Just be careful that the chocolate isn’t so hot that it melts the plastic.

  2. Agata says:

    Fill the plastic tray with liquid chocolate/jelly/whatever and make little tasty figurines…anymore ideas?

  3. Malva says:

    We buy Playmobil advent calendars. Depending on how many years you have kids at home, you can repackage them and a few years down the road when the kids will have forgotten about it, reuse it.

  4. Bellen says:

    Advent calendars do not have to provide a gift/treat so the paper ones with doors to open to a picture or Bible phrase are reusable from year to year. By the time my oldest left home, each kid had a well-worn, well-loved Advent calendar to take with him.

    To make your own:
    Simplest is a paper chain with each loop numbered, cut off one each day.

    More advanced would be to make 24 trees or stars out of construction paper, number them, paste a Christmas picture/Bible verse to the back, hang them with ribbon to a dowel, hang that on the wall and turn one each day.

    Even more advanced – sew 24 pockets to a large piece of felt – number them first – insert a dowel at the top to hang up, put a candy cane, chocolate kiss, in each pocket, take one daily.

    More ideas can easily be found by Googling ‘Make your own Advent calendar”.

  5. sami says:

    a cute homemade advent calendar I saw had picture nails (or pins?) in a painted board. tiny “presents” were wrapped and tied with a gold cord, then the nail could slip under the bow. very easy to reuse – you could use scrap paper and the smallest unused pieces of giftwrap, or even reuse cloth every year.

  6. There’s a lovely reusable one here, made from recycled materials:

    It makes a good family project, too. Or there’s this box type:

  7. Canadian says:

    I still use the old-fashioned paper kind with no chocolate. I bought some as gifts from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland:

  8. Courtney says:

    Thanks for those links, Heather! I love the advent calendar made out of matchboxes at Bubbly Funk. I’m so excited to customize my own box Calendar for Christmas! (And now I have a new use for leftover matchboxes!)

    Thanks again!

  9. emmeline says:

    My grandmother made a beautiful fabric wall hanging advent calendar. Instead of taking things off or opening boxes, you hang a new decoration up in a designated spot. Hers has a backdrop of a big christmas tree and every day a little christmas-themed animal gets hooked up, so the hanging gets more festive the closer one gets to christmas. :D

  10. ndm says:

    A year late perhaps…
    Kind of in keeping with emmeline’s suggestion. We had 24 little boxes. Every day my two brothers and I would unwrap a box, where we would find what we had placed in it last year, and each of us would put an item in the box and rewrap it to be opened next year. Sort of a year by year time capsule. Thinking back, we put some strange things in those boxes. We thought it was neat when we were doing it.

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