With the sweeping movement of luxury advent calendars promising full sized beauty products, candles, gins, beers and all sorts of other products behind every door you open in the run up to Christmas, I started to wonder whether a new type of advent calendar has ever existed that focuses more on the special moments Advent brings us during the Christmas countdown rather than the consumerist side to Christmas – opening doors with fancy products.
Yes, it's true that the likes of this year's Liberty London and Yankee advent calendars really are beautiful and probably suit those who might love the surprise of different scents and flavours every day, but for me, I can’t help but feel like there are much more impactful ways to spend £300 than on a luxury advent calendar that promotes the quick-highs of getting a products, rather than magnifying the excitement for the preparation of Christmas – which is ultimately what advent is about.
Experiences = happiness
If in any doubt, I did read a great book recently about how to spend your money in a way that brings deep happiness (It's called Happy Money: The new science of smarter spending by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton.) In the book the authors share science-backed studies proving that long term happiness is found when we invest our money in experiences not things and that buying those 'must-have' items like iPhones, beauty products, cars etc, while they do make us happy, it's only a temporary happiness that will be short lived and will never last as long as a happy memory.
My DIY Advent Calendar – to bring us closer together
This year, to pause and really relish the Christmas season before it flies past us as fast as Santa's sleigh, I thought that a hand made advent calendar tailored to projects and Christmassy traditions would be ideal to bring Neil and I even closer together, trying out new projects and spreading joy to others during December.
I was really excited to create this DIY because not only the act of getting all crafty, using my calligraphy set for the first time made me happy, but brainstorming all of our Christmas traditions and the things Neil and I wanted to do this month left us really looking forward to the weeks ahead. It made me wish I could do a calendar like this every month! Can I? ;)
How to make your own 12 days of Christmas version
If you're reading this and it's advent already, you could always make a 12 days of Christmas version starting on the 12th December until the 24th December.
It was so easy to make. We started by listing out our Christmas traditions (our annual Christmas tree photo, Neil baking my family sausage rolls, and decorating the house), then listed the projects we wanted to do together (make pickled onions for our families, bake mince pies, and try making our own Christmas cocktail), then finally listed the small gestures we wanted to do to spread joy (like write Christmas cards for our friends and families and donate to charity).
I used some brown kraft paper parcel tags in varied sizes (similar here) to write all the dates on with a pot of black ink and my calligraphy pen (you could use a watercolour/paint brush if you don't have one). Then Neil and I looked at our calendar to see which days were best for which activities. Making Christmas cocktails for example, had to be on a Friday so we could really let our hair down :)
I wrote all the activities for each day on the back of the corresponding tag and used these copper book darts that I picked up in America (exact ones here but you can probably find cheaper) to fasten fancy little clippings of shiny tinsel and cuttings from a fir branch that I bought in a local florist for £1 onto the front of the 'doors'.
Neil hung it all up with string on our shaker peg rail shelf, all at different levels. I love how unintentionally the calendar moves and twinkles when we turn the heating on as it's above a radiator.
If you're curious about what our activities and month looks like or want some ideas to recreate your own, this is what's behind each door. I have some "Nights off" on some days because I stay at my mum's house once a week so won't be with Neil to celebrate together.
Our advent calendar activities
Day 1: Cheese + wine night with friends!
Day 2: Decorate the house
Day 3: Make pickled onions
Day 4: Pick holly from the garden
Day 5: Candle lit bubble baths
Day 6: Write Christmas cards
Day 7: Night off
Day 8: Make our own Christmas Cocktail
Day 9: Visit a Christmas market
Day 10: Bake Christmas biscuits
Day 11: Watch a Christmas movie
Day 12: Go to a cosy pub for mulled wine
Day 13: Take our annual Christmas photo
Day 14: Night off
Day 15: Play pin the tail on the Rudolph!
Day 16: Go to a Christmas concert
Day 17: Bake mince pies
Day 18: Play candlelit scrabble
Day 19: Wrap the gifts for our families
Day 20: Neil makes his special sausage rolls for my family
Day 21: Roast chestnuts on the fire
Day 22: Donate to a charity we want to help
Day 23: Host the annual Christmas reunion with our old friends
Day 24: Hang those stockings...
Have you made an advent calendar before? What sort of activities do you have planned with your friends and family this advent?
Thanks for reading,