2018 Advent Calendar + Free Holiday Tags

Hello, my friends! I’m testing out different blog posting schedules to see what feels right and so far, once or twice a month seems the best fit. I’m all about not overdoing anything nowadays, and methinks it’s the ticket to not getting sick. Both K and M came down with the sniffles in the last few weeks and I’ve been impervious to the germs (knocking furiously on wood as I type this).

Let’s talk about this year’s advent calendar shall we? I’m quite proud of this one.

About five years ago, I spotted a DIY project for paper houses on Pinterest and desperately wanted to make a winter village as an advent calendar. However. To start with, the time commitment was obvious — that’s a lot of cutting and folding and gluing. I don’t have one of those handy dandy Silhouette or Cricut machines and had no interest in owning one. Since I tend to procrastinate, I would come up with a different idea at the last minute every year.

For whatever reason, this year I was on top of things. Not only did I plan out the project three weeks in advance, but I even designed the houses myself. I know. Crazy. I was going to download a bunch of free online templates but when I saw how basic the shapes were, I figured it would be easy for me to customize my own. I spent an afternoon designing and voila, I had 8 templates.

I spent maybe an hour or two a day working on the calendar for a couple of weeks. I printed the houses on my usual inkjet textured paper, of which I seem to have an endless supply. I printed three of each template for a total of 24 houses. Then I sliced out the windows and doors with an Exacto knife but used regular scissors to cut out the houses. For scoring the sections that would be folded, I used a Japanese hera, which is actually a marking tool for sewing. I don’t like to get messy, so I got these mini glue dots, which were perfect.

Now, I typically design the advent calendars in a count-down style. The visual reminder of the number of days left is fun for K, and it makes clean-up a breeze later. But I spent so long on these houses and I love the way they look so much that I wanted the whole village on display for the entire holiday season. After mulling over this situation, I landed on the idea of flameless tea lights that K could place in each house. I considered adding numbers to the houses, but I’m more of a visual minimalist. I’m lovin’ the plain white houses.

Conveniently, there are 24 tea lights in a pack. Since these tea lights only last 3 hours, we decided to light them all on Christmas Eve.

I was making excellent progress, but something was still missing. I wanted a sweet little package that K would be able to open each day and a single tea light left something to be desired, so I painted a bunch of animals. I went to town dressing them up in winter garb and labeling them with numbers, then printed these out on the same inkjet textured paper. Aren’t they cute?

I scrawled the daily activities on the back (every other day, she gets a book so I simply wrote “book” for those days).

I wrapped each tea light with an animal card and placed them in a basket, which served as the count down aspect. On a side note, I found that basket at Trader Joe’s and it’s made out of newspapers. So cool! Oh, and the books are wrapped in this super darling black-and-white paper I found at a local natural foods grocery store.

This advent calendar has been THE BEST. K absolutely adores it and I feel so happy whenever I look at the winter village displayed on top of our old upright piano. At first I put it on our credenza (photo below) but quickly realized that Katara, our cat, will think they’re her toys and scatter them willy nilly.

Can you tell that I had a blast making this calendar? I’m going to display it every year for the holidays, you betcha.

I chose a few of my favorite animals that I painted (I removed the numbers so they’re not advent specific) and made them into a free downloadable for you as a little gift from me. Just print them out on cardstock (or the inkjet textured paper that I use), cut around the shape and make sure to leave a little extra at the top to punch a hole. These make lovely gift tags!

Click on the image to download (you may need to right-click and save onto your desktop to enable printing). Please let me know if you have any issues with the download.

Well, it’s time to wrap this up and tend to other to-dos. I’m almost done with Christmas shopping and making and I have some book stuff to finish. If you’re interested, here are the other Advent Calendars from years past:

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

I hope to check in again in a couple of weeks or so! For now, I’m signing off with a “Happy Holidays!!!” from my two beloved Ks:

P.S. Katara hated the Santa hat.

3 thoughts on “2018 Advent Calendar + Free Holiday Tags

  1. Love this! I had templates for Putz houses that I’d forgotten about. I think I’ll go look for them. And those gift tags! So adorable. I always look forward to your advent calendars.

    1. Thanks Angela, making the advent calendar is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season! Putz houses sounds like a lot of fun :-).

  2. ❤️. I love that you came back around to this project and are getting so much enjoyment out of it! Brilliant. Love the painted animals. I enjoy your art more and more.

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