Countdown to Christmas: An advent calendar with a twist


BY Rachel Codrington-Hopkins

Amidst the chaos of our house renovations and the dark evenings sending us into hibernation mode, technology is proving an all too easy distraction, so I’ve been on the lookout for a festive activity to do with the children after school to entice them away from their screens.


I wanted to get the children a re-useable advent calendar this Christmas and when I pointed one out to my daughter she replied that it was nice, but she wished there was one she could decorate herself.  


Lightbulb moment!  We had ourselves an activity.  A quick look online turned up just the thing.  These cute little papier-mache drawers by Decopatch are sturdy enough to last, big enough to fit a treat inside and the perfect material to decorate.  I got one for each of us.

Christmas craft ideas


This project was the ideal excuse to raid our craft supplies; we turned up some coloured card, ribbon, buttons and metallic pens, but there’s no end to the materials you could use; felt, paper, string, paint, colouring pens…anything that will draw on or stick to the boxes.  

Christmas craft ideas

We’re going to set aside half an hour of family time each evening to decorate one drawer a day from now until Christmas. The ideas are already flying; my daughter wants to start with a Harry Potter theme, then move on to Friends; my son suggested Scooby-Doo and Minecraft (I’m noticing a bit of a screen theme here, this craft intervention is definitely needed!)  We’re also going to use some of the LED lights left over from our Christmas in a jar project last week to add a touch of sparkle.  


You could just go for it and decorate the drawers all in one go as a weekend craft project; seeing my children’s enthusiasm I’m already thinking they may not want to stop at one drawer once they get going! 

Christmas gift ideas


If you don’t want to purchase a set of drawers, you could easily make a calendar from bits and bobs around the home.  How about decorating twenty-five paper sandwich bags and hanging them from pegs on a bit of string?  Or decorate twenty-five envelopes and pin them to a notice board?   


Instead of taking things out of the drawers we’re going to put things in for next year (maybe not chocolate though, I think we’ll just eat the chocolate this year).  My daughter is using jokes and my son wants to make challenges; other ideas include affirmations or a good deed for the day.

It doesn’t really matter what you put inside the calendar, or what the end product looks like; the magic is in the ritual of getting together each day to chat and create a little something in the knowledge that we’re one sleep closer to Christmas.


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