What can I reuse or recycle to make Advent calendars?

Advent started yesterday so really I should have asked this question last week but nevermind.

We don’t celebrate Christmas but I know that one or two people around the world do – and some of those people have Advent calendars to open on the run up to the 25th.

When I was a kid, I’m pretty sure my mum gave us the same calendar several years running, with the doors closed neatly back into place – it didn’t matter because the joy of opening the door to see what was behind it was enough. Then when I was my early teens in the early 1990s, chocolate advent calendars suddenly became cheap and wide available, the chocolate rather than the drawing of the bell or the reindeer became the goal and the calendar was suddenly disposable.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are some great examples of creative – and reusable – advent calendars out there – such as the this spool advent calendar kit from Cathe Holden of Just Something I Made – I imagine something similar could be made by recycling any sort of plastic tubing or even decorated toilet roll tubes if you haven’t got 24 cotton spools to hand. I love the idea of having treasure hunt elements to the messages or having Christmas preparation activities to-dos – or they could be silly jokes to get everyone warmed up for their Christmas crackers.

I’ve also seen some examples where people have gathered together 24 boxes – they could be old packaging painted or covered in paper as well as numbered – and stuck them together to make a countdown calendar with plenty of storage. They wouldn’t have to be filled with treats or gifts – tree decorations would work well – many kids would love to decorate the tree an item at a time as each item is revealed. And weekend days could be filled with craft supplies that they have to make into a tree decoration.

And it’s not strictly recycled but I also love the reusability of Attic 24 Lucy’s advent garland – it could be recycled if you used reclaimed yarn or upcycled fabric to make sewn stars instead of crochet).

Have you made an advert calendar by reusing or recycling anything?

Or have you seen any more great examples out and about on the web?

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12 Responses to “What can I reuse or recycle to make Advent calendars?”

  1. Not in complete reply to this, but we have two fairtrade advent calendars this year and I am planning to use the insides with 24 hearts for making paper pulp hearts to go on hand made paper cards for valentines with primary school kids in 2011

  2. As a child, we had homemade advent calendars made from 24 bits of toilet roll tubes cut to different heights and covered in crepe paper. It was great.

    As for shop bought chocolate calendars, you can reuse the plastic tray inside some of them them that holds the chocolates as a mould to make more Christmas chocolates.

  3. Bellen says:

    A quick Advent calendar: cut out 24 triangle shapes or 3″x5″ rectangles. Use cardboard, craft paper, index cards. Number one side 1-24, on the other paste a picture of something Christmasy or a Christmas greeting. Decorate both sides as much or little as desired – glitter is always fun. Using pinch clothespins (painted if desired) attach to a cord long enough to hang all cards number side out. I used braided green and red yarn and hung it on the breakfast room wall – it was about 4′ long. Daily turn a card over.

    Quicker – a simple chain made from scraps of wrapping paper – tear one off every day

    More elaborate: use a cork bulletin board or foam board – thick enough for thumb tacks. Using yarn/string make a Christmas tree shape. Have 24 decorations – again, photos, snippets of cards, pieces of costume jewelry especially drop earrings or pieces of necklaces – add one every day for 24 days.

    With 3 kids I’ve made many ‘count down the days’ calendars – even for birthdays – and never had to buy
    anything but some white glue and glitter (and you’ll have sparkle for months afterwards!!)

  4. anna says:

    There was just an awesome post in craft today with a lot of links in it for making the advent calendars http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/2010/12/diy_advent_calendars.html

    • louisa says:

      Thanks for the link Anna – lots of great ideas. I usually read Craftzine but today’s been rather busy so I haven’t had a chance to look at it – glad you did instead though!

  5. wong wishes says:

    these were published this week and most could be considered as recylce candidates:

  6. wong wishes says:


    and see the links under “see more”

    If you have bits of new or recyclable fabric or paper then lots of these ideas could be copied

  7. Kacy says:

    I saw a neat one in a magazine once that you can make out of matchboxes stacked and covered in paper. The magazine showed tiny trinkets and toys in each such as stickers and erasers. It might be fun to find small things around the house to put in each box.

  8. Mary Horesh says:

    Just found this as an advent calendar idea, using storage jars http://www.inspiremecrafts.com/inspireme_crafts/2008/11/dollar-diva-tin-advent-calendar.html – love it! I want one!

    Also seen at someones house, as garland hung over the fireplace with an assortment 24 single socks, each with a little treat in. Every day one is taken down, treat taken out until you get to the 24- it was so cute with all shapes of socks used from baby to adult.

  9. Mandy Poole says:

    I used to reuse the plastic inside as a painters tray to seperate and mix all of my different paints. Worked perfectly! same thing with ice cube trays.

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