15 Advent Calendar Ideas for Counting Down to Christmas on the Cheap
December is the month of the advent calendar, the traditional countdown to Christmas. There are countless styles and themes available for purchase, but those with a crafty side can also make personalized versions. Here are some money-saving ideas for advent calendars that are a little out of the ordinary.
A recent check of craft-marketplace sites such as Etsy found an array of advent calendars and kits featuring numbered brown paper bags for as much as $45. Save money and visit the dollar or grocery store to buy standard-issue brown lunch bags, colorful clothespins, and an assortment of treats for the bags, then arrange on the mantel or hang on a line.
Make the holidays happier with a joke-themed advent calendar for kids. Print out a free calendar from the blog Modern Parents Messy Kids for 24 days of silly jokes like, "What's red, white, and blue at Christmastime? A sad candy cane!" Kids will love it even if grown-ups roll their eyes.
Unsurprisingly, lifestyle guru Martha Stewart has plenty of suggestions for DIY advent calendars. One of the simplest on her website starts with colored envelopes in a variety of sizes. Attach adhesive numbers to each, fill with lightweight gifts like stickers and gift cards, and attach to the wall in a tree-shape with painter's tape.
A $30 Yankee Candle countdown calendar reveals a scented tea light for each day, but reviewers say the cardboard gets mangled when removing the candles, the fragrances don't complement each other, and the calendar isn't worth the money. For a cheaper way to light up dark December nights, insert standard tea lights ($6.50 for 100 from Target) into 24 small gift boxes. Open and light one candle a day and light them all on the last day for a big impact.
The Man Crates advent calendar gives grown-up guys a jerky-themed calendar stuffed with alligator, buffalo, and other exotic jerky treats at a price of $60. Make a cheaper version by buying jerky sticks in a variety of flavors and tying each one with a numbered ribbon that can be attached to the wall or hung from the mantel.
Revisit favorite vacation moments with a scrapbook-turned-advent-calendar project. Start with a large post-bound scrapbook ($9 at Target). Number pages 1 through 24, attach a photo to each page, and invite kids to share any memories they have of the moment, which can be written on the page.
Make December your season of love by creating some heart-shaped cutouts from construction paper and writing a romantic quote on each heart. Number each one, then pin them number side up to a pretty pillowcase. Let your beloved read one each day.
A glamorous beauty advent calendar from the Vintage Cosmetic Company is $130 from QVC, so consider creating your own, cheaper version. Start with an all-white Karen Foster Design 3D Countdown Calendar ($13 at Walmart), which comes with number stickers and a template for decorating, then head to the local beauty-supply or dollar store for small treats like lip gloss, tweezers, and hair clips to fill the drawers.