DIY 2017 Advent Calendar Madness

If you are tired of bad chocolate and hassles with store-bought advent calendars, try Sabina Spiteri's DIY ones at home.

Oh yes, it’s that time of the year! We at Vanilla Beige, have decided to revamp and republish our Advent Calendar for the 2017 upcoming silly season! Don’t worry, we’re not really being lazy, we’ve updated this post with a few little freebie printables for you to make a project like this easier.

At the end, you will find printable downloads for:

  • 2017 Advent Calendar Planning sheet so you can work out the gifts and activities and keep track of what’s been done.
  • Numbers 1 to 24 for the advent plus blank wreaths in case you need them.
  • Activity ideas for the family. Again, we’ve included blanks so you can write out what you’d like if you’d like to.

And we’ve given you plenty of time – over a month! So you can get this done before December 1. Read on for our free downloadable planner, day numbers and ideas for activities.

Advent Calendar

Last year’s story

A few years ago, I crazily decided to swap chocolate Advent Calendars for the Lego Advent Calendar. I cannot remember exactly, the reasons why, but I think it might have been geographical! The humidity and heat of Singapore didn’t allow for the storage of chocolate unless it was kept in the fridge. So, we stored those chocolate calendars in our wine fridge. Obviously, because our own refrigerator was brimming full of drinks, flour, biscuits, good chocolate (not the standard variety of Advent Calendar ilk), sweets, sugar, honey, facial creams….all the good stuff that would normally sit in fridges everywhere (or at least in hot and humid climes).

No more chocolate calendars!

Then the girls would forget about the chocolate – out of sight, out of mind, and we’d always remember them at the most inopportune times, like just before going to bed (any excuse….sigh). Then one year, Lego Friends came out and along with that, the Lego Friends’ Advent Calendar. Oh, those brilliant marketers at Lego! And well, didn’t that appeal to my very girly girls. We just had to have it (and I’m a sucker for Lego)!

Of course, this meant remembering to buy the Lego Advent Calendar at the beginning of October, or even September, to ensure you didn’t miss out (I definitely don’t miss that about Singapore!). Then we had to assemble the pieces, usually before school… then we had to play with the things… and then, all that just made us have to sprint in 30-degree temperature, often torrential rain to catch our bus for school. Got to love the wet “winter” season in Singapore! It wasn’t very practical.

I must have got my craft-brain on about three years ago and decided to do something a bit different and a bit more in the spirit of giving and sharing. Yes, there was still definitely over-receiving but we compromised a tad. I bought little stocking stuffer-like gifts  (although not half as exciting as “real stocking stuffers”) and wrapped up “brown paper packages tied up with string” for my girls to discover each morning during Advent.

The brown paper packages…

The packages contained very useful stuff (things that mummy liked. No junky, going straight in the bin kind of things). For example, paperclips, erasers, little post-it notes, pens, stickers, hair elastic and of course, on some days, there were little notes reminding them to get a little chocolate treat from the wine fridge.

Tied to each little package would be a little “task” for the girls to do. These would include feel-good tasks, things they needed to get done or activities we could do as a family – see below for some ideas.

In Singapore, we had this gorgeous wrought iron spiral staircase on which we hung our little Advent parcels.

Our staircase in Singapore. Sorry about the pic size, this was a few years ago and the only pic I could find was from Facebook.

A family tradition

This is the fourth year that I am doing this and the girls love it. They start reminding me about our Advent activities as soon as the Christmas decorations hit the shops (which now seems to be as early as September!). I also love that they love the activities just as much as the little tokens in the packages, which are, indeed little… things I know they need for school or for crafting, things that I now (since moving to the UK) buy from Lush, Paperchase, Poundland or Sainsbury’s but in Singapore, I would buy from Tokyu Hands, Daiso, Popular Bookstore or even Amazon.

Advent Calendar

Gift ideas for our Advent Calendar.

Things I’d like to improve on next year is to sew up little calico bags in the interest of being more environmentally friendly. I’d like to be able to re-use, but then, I say this every year. I think that by the time I remember to do it, I don’t have the time to sew up 50 little bags (yes, one set for each girl… sigh) in time for December 1st!

The 2017 situation

So this is what I said last year, and this year, I did think about it….except a very curious little munchkin (who obviously lives in this house) decided, under a cloud of secrecy, to play with my sewing machine and break a knob. These little setbacks are not really what my procrastinating-self needs, as it means taking the machine somewhere to be fixed – and this never ever gets done for at least three months. So brown packages tied up with string again this year, unless my environmentally green brain kicks into gear in time.

And now…where are the little freebies I hear you say!

Vanilla Beige Advent Calendar

We’ve put onto PDF an example list of Advent activities and some practical (some not so!) alternatives to Advent chocolates. So you can simply cut and paste or custom make these yourself! Perhaps this could be the start of your own family tradition for the holidays. What I’d like to say is to make it your own and just enjoy the season.


DOWNLOAD HERE: 2017 Advent Calendar Plan

DOWNLOAD HERE: 2017 Advent Calendar 1 to 24

Advent Calendar Activities

DOWNLOAD HERE: 2017 Advent Calendar Activities

Sabina, originally from Australia, has lived in London, NYC, Singapore and now resides in Surrey, deepest darkest surburbia, UK. She packed her entire belongings up in a ski bag nearly twenty years ago to do the “backpacking thing” in London and never went back home. She is now chasing the dream as a wannabe writer in the deepest of deep, Surrey. Sabina is passionate about coffee, food, exploring cities and skiing.
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