December is tomorrow – how did that happen? My daughter loves counting down to Christmas so she and I made a rustic and super simple advent calendar to help her keep track of the days until the big guy comes, and it keeps me aware of how many shopping days are left. ugh!
I’ve seen so many different types of advent calendars in stores and DIY versions online. I love this one because of the distressed wood and the adorable metal numbered tags I found at Michaels. But what really love about this advent calendar is that each day has a meaningful activity to do. Anything from: say a prayer for someone in need to make hot cocoa and watch Christmas movies. You assign the activity and do your best to keep up. Remember, this is what the holidays are all about.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A piece of scrap wood – I buy the basic common board for most of my signs and clip frames. You get this at any home supply store. They’ll even cut it down for you to almost any size. Mine is 11″ x 15.5″.
- Split ring key tags – I got these at Walmart. Online only sells packs of 50, but the store has 25.
- Nails – 25 of course
- Number tokens – I found these metal ones at Michael’s store but I didn’t see them online.
- Paint or stain in your choice of color(s). I gave this piece a distressed look using black white and blue paint. Click here to see my tips on distressing wood.
- Polyurethane to seal the wood
- Hammer & a ruler
And here are the directions:
Sand and paint your piece of wood. I painted mine with a distressed look. Click here to see my post on how I distress wood.
Basically I bang up the wood with both sides of a hammer and sand it, being sure to wear the edges down. Then I apply paint in limited areas, wait for it to dry and sand it again until I get the effect I like.
This is the finished piece. I like the look of a few different colors as if the wood had been painted and stripped and painted again – and then left outside for a few years. You can paint your wood any color you choose or stain it. A nice deep red paint or walnut stain would look pretty.
If you want to add any designs you can do that at this step. I added Merry Christmas in a script font. Click here to see how I transfer type onto wood. Once you print out your font, trace the outline onto the back of the paper, then transfer the pencil marks by rubbing the outline onto the wood.
I originally painted the type red but it didn’t read well so I went back over it with white paint. I kinda like that you see some of the red underneath. I gave it a light sanding after it was dry too. Once all your paint is dry, you can seal it with a coat of polyeuthrane if you choose. I used an acrylic or water based poly because I’ve found the oil based ones have a yellow tint to them and also take longer to dry.
While the paint or polyeuthrane is drying, you can work on the tags. Since I used the metal tokens, I just attached them onto the key tags by putting them through the split rings. You can also use stamps or numbered stickers – I saw both at Michael’s. Or, if you have good handwriting, just write the numbers on the tags.
How cute do these look?
Now you’ll need to write the activities to the back of your tags with a thin sharpie. These don’t have to be anything too crazy. My son suggested buy someone a coffee. Love that.
Once your wood piece is dry, it’s time to attach the nails. These nails will be the hangers for the tags. You can use nicer hooks but I like the rustic look of just plain nails. I measured 5 rows across and 5 rows down, leaving enough space between each nail for the tags to hang.
Hammer in the nails according to your measurements. I nailed them in at an angle so the tags would be less likely to fall off. Hang your tags on the nails and display as you’d like.
If you want to hang it, you’ll need to add a wire or a saw tooth hanger to the back. I like mine leaning against a wall.
So you may not want – or have the time – to distress wood or make any fancy advent calendar, but you can still create a meaningful one just by incorporating activities that really celebrate the spirit of Christmas.