In the lead up to Christmas I wanted to celebrate Advent with the girls this year – the countdown to the big day can be quite overwhelming and seem like a dot on the horizon when you’re four and two! Hopefully counting down the days will not only extend the joy of the season, but get their little minds around the idea that Christmas Day is actually not tomorrow (thanks supermarket and general retail for having Santa in the shops since October!) Eleanor seems to have quite the head for numbers, like her Daddy, not her mummy! So counting up to 24 shouldn’t be a problem, finding each day’s number on our calendar will hopefully reinforce her number literacy (or something…trying to pass this off as educational!) Growing up we always had the standard supermarket cardboard-cheap-chocolate Advent calendars – nothing wrong with them! Man, I loved my Barbie one hard one year…
This design using an embroidery hoop is nothing new, it’s been bouncing around both Pinterest and my sleep deprived mind for the better part of five years – this year, though, was the year! During a recent whiz around Spotlight and Kmart I spied some little Kraft boxes as well as hessian and muslin bags, which had me inspired to finally get around to make our own perpetual Advent calendar. I happened to have an embroidery hoop in my sewing room (probably initially bought five years ago for this very project!) Throw in some greenery from the garden, and this Advent calendar almost made itself.
Embroidery Hoop Advent Calendar
Kraft boxes and hessian or muslin bags (I used a combination of all of these – the boxes and hessian bags I got from Spotlight, the muslin bags I got from Kmart)
String, twine or ribbon
Hessian ribbon (to make a bow, from Spotlight)
Greenery (I used rosemary and camellia from our garden)
Fabric marker (again, from Spotlight)
Floristry wire (truth be told I used Matt’s welding wire for this as I couldn’t find my floristry wire!)
Start with your plain-Jane embroidery hope, gather some greenery – I used rosemary sprigs and camellia leaves. I tried to get some camellia which arched a little, but it really doesn’t matter. Secure your greenery to the embroidery hoop using your floristry wire – twisting and weaving as you go. I started at the bottom and made my way half way up each side. I did the camellia first and then ‘covered’ any gaps with the rosemary.
Lay out your boxes and bags in an assorted order, then using your fabric marker label each one with numbers 1-24. Fill each one with a little trinket or chocolate or whatever you’d like to fill your Advent calendar. This year I went with basics and simplicity – little mini Santa chocolates, some Kmart unicorn erasers, butterfly stickers, plastic dinosaurs and dogs from The Reject Shop, little bracelets and bubble wands. The trick I found was finding things small enough to fit in my little bags and boxes! After I had bought all of my bits and bobs I did have the thought that I should do an ‘acts of kindness’ Advent calendar instead – we really don’t need more ‘things’! But, this year this will do. We will no doubt refine our Advent calendar traditions, hopefully with an emphasis on giving rather than receiving. Next year when the girls are a bit older I would definitely like to do that (i.e. one day smile at a stranger, the next day help your sister, donate some toys, make a gift for someone etc)
Once your bags and boxes are filled, and your wreath is adorned with greenery – it’s time to tie them all to the embroidery hoop. I had no real method in doing this, roughly longer ones in the centre middle (the muslin bags with longer drawstrings) and then worked my way out. I kept the order of numbers random and haphazard, the girls will have the search amongst the boxes and bags for the day’s number. I hung my wreath up to tie the boxes and bags on, as I found it a lot easier. I also found that 24 really is an awful lot of bags and boxes! Soon my greenery, which looked pretty lush to begin with, was fairly hidden behind my bags, boxes, twine and ribbon I used to tie them on with. In hindsight I think, if you are a bit tricky, you could tie the greenery on with the strings and ribbons you tie the bags and boxes on with (if that makes sense!) This would reduce bulk and the need for floristry wire. I also think I could have added the greenery after the bags and boxes…or more greenery on top of them?
Anywho, there’s always next year! We will hopefully have this perpetual Advent calendar in rotation for many years to come in the Brindabella farmhouse. I finished her off with a simple hessian ribbon bow and hung with festive Christmassy red ribbon. Isn’t she a beauty?!
Simple, yet effective. This took me literally no longer than 20 minutes to put together (once I had all my bags and boxes and greenery and ribbon and string in front of me!) We can simply snip off the corresponding day, keep the box or bag for next year and reassemble in November 2019, ready for another Christmas…
Do you have any Pinterest projects five years in the making? No shame in that, we’ve all been there.
Got a perpetual Advent calendar you trot out every year?
Any more ideas about an ‘acts of kindness’ variety? Giving rather than receiving? ‘Tis the season!