as a kid my mum would put together the BEST advent calendars for me – counting down to christmas was almost more fun than christmas day itself! when i was really small she bought fabulous cardboard calendars from europe – the ones with tiny doors you open, and there’s a little picture inside. these made a big impression on me; i was only about 2 or 3 but i can still remember some of the illustrations. each year i’d have a different kind of calendar: one year each day was a tiny book telling part of the sort of the nutcracker (to hang on the christmas tree). some years i’d get a little chocolate each day, and so on…
when i turned 7 mama stepped up her game – she made me a fabric advent calendar, with little pockets. each day of december she would tuck a little tiny present in there, or a slip of paper with an activity written on it. she did this for me every year until i turned 18 and moved to england. even then, she’d email me funny or cute things every day of december. so when i had my son i was thrilled to have the chance to pass on this tradition that had brought me SO much happiness through the years. its really only been a couple of christmases so far, but he totally gets it. we say the advent fairies come and leave little surprises for him and he rushes out every morning to see what’s arrived. i’ve been using the old fabric calendar my mum made, but this year i felt like something new and so, inspired by those fabulous vintage european matchbox labels, i created a printable kit of matchboxes to countdown to christmas with!
how to make them
you will need to download my matchbox kit.
the kit contains:
- 24 individually designed matchbox labels by draw! pilgrim, all vintage style with an aged color tint, fake ‘off register’ color overlaps and a variety of european christmas greetings
- templates to fold up the matchbox bases/drawers
- a template for slips of paper to write notes for treats or activities etc
what you will need
aside from the kit mentioned above, you’ll need to print the templates on heavy-ish paper: regular printer paper is quite flimsy – it’d be ok for using JUST this year, but if you want to use these matchboxes again i recommend something a little heavier, around 300gsm (i believe thats equivalent to 200lbs weight). printing at home is convenient but for paper advice you might want to splurge and take this project to the print shop where you can see what range of papers they have and decide what will fold best for your needs.
you will also need:
- glue or double sided tape,
- scissors and/or a guillotine paper cutter (it makes cutting down the sheets of labels a bit faster and neater)
- a bone folder or scoring tool will really give you great crisp edges when folding.
what to fill the boxes with?
you know your own people best, but some ideas are:
- tiny candies: jellybeans, m&ms etc
- individual chocolates
- hair accessories
- teensy toys
or put in slips of paper hinting at where to find treats that are just a bit too big for the matchbox, e.g.: “look behind the dictionary!” and there will be hidden a new matchbox car or a little bottle of nail polish.
how to display your calendar?
- thread them on a string and hang them as a garland across a mantlepiece or door frame
- add a strip of magnetic tape and put them up on your fridge
- leave one each day on their bedside table
- put one in their lunchbox
- hang them all vertically on a length of string
- …or just stick them all to a plain colored poster sheet!
so go ahead! its so much fun and a project that the whole family can get involved in.
did you have christmas countdown traditions too?