This project kicked off a couple weeks before the UK’s first COVID-19 lockdown, in early 2020, about a year before this was published. In 2019 we were in the states for Christmas, and so “little” got to see, try to use, and pull a couple beads off the advent calendar I grew up with.
This got me thinking about having one for our own household. I mentioned it to my mom, who made ours, and got advice akin to the words I have below about the candy cane ornament. It amounted to – the tiny felt ornaments, especially the beading and sequins were fiddly and took a lot of work.
Armed with that knowledge, I created this modern take on our childhood advent calendar.
I’ll be breaking one of my cardinal rules for this site – multiple photos are happening in this post people. LOOKOUT.
I can’t give much of a recipe or a how-to for this, but I’ll try. Currently, I see ours as a work in progress, ornaments will be switched out, I figure whatever gets demoted from advent duty will go on the tree, and I will create a way to hold the ornaments “in waiting” similar to the rows of beads at the bottom of the one I grew up with. Maybe by next year
- A wall hanging with a tree on it – I found this one of a photograph of a tree, on super sale after Christmas 2019, perfect. One could easily be made with felt or quilting fabric. You could quilt a tree up! I couldn’t, but you could.
- Beads and sequins – 50 of each. Each ornament gets 2 hanging spots – on the tree and “in waiting” – more for decoration if so desired.
- 25 ornaments, ideally flat ones or small ones. This year, I hand made 3 varieties, next year, a forth type will likely get added, details to follow.
For the wall hanging:
- I laid it out on the floor and cut squares of different sizes (25 each!) to see how they might fit and work on the tree. This guided me on what size ornaments to make, determined which wooden pieces I bought etc. Definitely, first step.
- These were made by running thread through from the back of the wall hanging through a sequin and a bead, then back through the sequin and tied in a knot and a touch of glue in the back.
- This year, I didn’t glue them til after Christmas – to make sure I was happy with the spacing.
Wood Slice Ornaments:
- I am no great illustrator, that’s why I did photography for years, cannae draw. So – I pulled images I liked from the internet and from a book I’ve had since childhood – Ed Emberly’s Christmas Drawing Book.
- Many of these I traced off my laptop monitor (I found phone and tablet screens could feel my hand through paper and moved around as I worked) onto tracing paper, then transferred onto the wood to help guide me as I painted.
- I let our daughter paint a bunch, her work became many of the backgrounds. (Polar bear and poinsettia for sure were her work).
- Painted with poster paint and crayola craft paint – the crayola took a couple coats to cover previous colours/layers.
- Sealed with spray polyurethane varnish.
Laser cut wood ornaments:
- These were an internet find, several online retailers have them for a variety of seasons (halloween, easter… etc)
- several of them were painted by the little one, the blue and red one above (these are actually the front and back) – I did the white dots and glitter but she did the statement colour work.
- I found our kitchen sponges did cool geometric designs and “printed” a few ornaments with one of them in blue paints.
- These were thee ultimate “if I run out of time to make 25 ornaments” and a great fix. They may get replaced in the advent calendar, by ornaments our daughter paints in the future, but that just means they’ll get upgraded to the family Christmas tree.
- Again, inspiration and shapes taken from the internet
- Made with felt and embroidery thread
- French knots (video tutorial) were handy! Not all turned out perfect.
- I raided my beading stash for accents
- Blanket stitch was great here – has a lovely look for this purpose and means no turning items inside out after stitching.
- I may re-do a couple larger and in brighter/lighter colours so they contrast with the tree better.
- Learning from our experience with our family’s advent calendar from my childhood, these are filled with cotton and lavender – I see you moths. I’m ready.
That Fabric Candy Cane:
- super cute right? I will NEVER MAKE ANOTHER.
- properly done sewn inside out on the sewing machine.
- never never never again.
- I don’t advise you do this. PITA. I had “cute” Christmas fabric that seemed perfect for a candy cane. The next one will be felt, blanket stitch.
Salt Dough Ornaments:
- These are currently being made, and I’m working on a post with a good how-to on that.
- They will be mixed into the advent calendar in 2021 and a couple snowflakes retired, the snowflakes were made in part to “omg fill in the gaps because it’s November, I started this in March and I realised I don’t really have until December 25 to finish this project – it should probably be DONE by December 1!” Also, little miss saw the snowflakes and cried saying basically that snowflakes belong on the ground, not in the tree. We have opinions in this house.
I think I’ve waffled quite enough thank you.