Christmas Decor on a Budget {DIY Advent Calendar}

When I was a kid there were a few years when we got those super awesome advent calendars where you opened the little cardboard flap every day and got to eat a waxy piece of chocolate.  Those were my favourite years.  A chocolate every single day.  Bliss!

My kids had those for a few years when they were young too, and although they loved them just as I did when I was a kid, I really really wanted to have a staple advent calendar that we used from year to year.  Something that I could fill myself with little treats or trinkets.  Something that we could pull out each year and be excited about.

For the past 4 years I have scoured online stores, etsy, brick and mortar shops and everything in between.  I could not find an advent calendar that I liked anywhere.  So I made my own, with mixed results.  I didn’t ever love any of them but they filled the purpose.  However,  this year that all changed when I made a little discovery.  I was trying to figure out what sort of object would naturally have 24 spots to fill.  I came up with two, and I’ve got to be honest, egg cartons just didn’t seem all that appealing.

But vintage soda pop crates sure did!!!!

IMG_9402 IMG_9403Of course, you can’t just run to Target and pick up a vintage soda crate so this is where the hard part came in.  Oh I could find them all over etsy and ebay for a small fortune but remember that whole Christmas on a budget thing?  Yeah.  It also became super annoying because just when I would find one for a decent price they would want a ridiculous amount to ship it.  So I had to let go of the online route and go with plan B.

Tell my mom what I’m looking for.

My mom is a finder extraordinaire.  You tell her what you’re looking for and she’ll find it.   This one took a little longer but within a few weeks I was the owner of this lovely old Pepsi crate.  (Thanks, Mom!)

Next task was to set out to find numbers for each day but I decided straight away that each number has to be be a) super fantastic  b) unique  and c) slightly quirky.  So I’m not rushing at this part.  I’m just going to add numbers as I happen to find them.  This year I have only 3.  Luckily my boys are old enough to just figure it out!

The rest was easy.  Find some little treats and wrap ’em up and place each bundle into the perfect little splintery wooden squares.

IMG_9426I am ridiculously happy with how it turned out!  It’s exactly what I wanted and was really so easy to accomplish.  Plus, it’s an old crate that’s been around for 50 years so I’m not worried about it getting bumped or scratched or how it might hold up in storage.  It can only get better with time!


IMG_9432 All I have left to do is to slip my little envelopes with our scripture reading  inside into each square and it’s complete!  Can’t wait for December 1!  (and my boys can’t wait for the 5th because that one has a little tag that says they get to open any one box on the side.  The anticipation is half the joy!)

The Breakdown:

This project was a little more costly but only for this initial year.  The crate was $40.00 but I won’t ever have to put that money out again.  You can fill it for as much or as little as you like.  Because I didn’t just do candy but included a few little toys as well it ended up costing approximately $16.00 to fill all 24  little spots.

Do you celebrate with an advent calendar?  Do you fill your own or go with store bought?  I’d love to know.




4 thoughts on “Christmas Decor on a Budget {DIY Advent Calendar}

  1. We always had one growing up and I want to do something with my children, but I struggle with a way to make it my style and have it someway to keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas without just scripture verses. I think the Scripture is very important, but I want to find some way to put action behind it which makes my girls excited to see the Advent calendar come out and not dread if :). Still haven’t come up with anything yet.


  2. Cool, Melanie! I’ve never seen one like that before!

    You raise a good point, Lara! Especially with little ones. I’ve always found that something as small as a jelly bean to suck on while reading one (ONE!) scripture verse is totally doable for littles. It gets them excited plus they’re soaking it in. Keep it short and simple and carry on!

    Now we do quite a long scripture reading – generally a full chapter – as well as a devotional pertaining to it but they only sit still for this because they’ve learned from back when we only did one verse! They never dread it but look forward to the time spent together now. I truly think it’s the most meaningful part of our December.


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