I was given a Christmas Advent book years before I had a family. Once my family came along, my kids loved the stories inside and remembering Christmases past from the stories, and adding more stories to it.
Every year the first thing after the tree goes up the kids make sure the Christmas book is still around and ask to hear the stories.
They also make great presents for young families to start traditions of their own with their kids, and they are easy to make.
Step 1: What Do You Need?
This project uses the following for each book:
- 1" 3-ring binder
- page protectors
- Christmas print fabric
- hot glue gun and glue
- batting 1/4"
- card board
- Christmas Stories, Quotes and Activities
Binders don't cost much to begin with, but you can really save by picking them up at second hand stores. People get rid of a lot of good stuff. If you start looking ahead of time you can get what you need to make your own or make gifts. Just make sure they are in good working order and the vinyl isn't coming apart. They can have some writing on them since you will be covering them.
These are also pretty cheap, and you don't need that many. I only used 21 in mine. How many you use depends on how many pages you make your book.
Some stores carry Christmas print fabric year round and can be picked up anytime, others it is seasonal with the best deals on it just after Christmas. Cloth can be as varied as wrapping paper from classic to bright and playful. Pick what matches your personality or that of who you are giving it to.
Thin battling 1/4" is fine, and it doesn't need to be expensive. You can use scraps. If you buy new, one bag can make a lot of these. They don't use that much per book.
I'm talking about the non-corrugated stuff like what cereal boxes are made of. Mine were provided by a single pizza box.
My first book was made out of plain white 20# bond computer paper. This time I'm updating it with some printing parchment to give it a really nice look. You can also print on the fancy printed scrapbook paper so you don't have to include any clip art in your stories yourself.
Christmas Stories, Quotes and Activities:
This part can be tricky some stories are in public domain and other popular ones are not. Make a list of your favorites, find out which ones are ok to copy and print and those that are not. I'm no copy write expert so I can tell you whether you can use them or not. You can reference the story in your book to be read on the given day in the book it came from if you feel guilty. Or copy and print it, I'm not watching you, what do I care.
One good place to get classic stories in public domain to Project Gutenberg. They have digitized texts from classic authors and books in many formats for any user HTML, PDF, txt, and now many are being published to the site in popular ebook formats.
Step 2: Cut & Attach the Batting
Lay out your batting to a single layer. Open the binder and lay it out on the batting to get the size. Some binders are a little bit different size, especially if you are collecting them from second hand sources. If you bought them all new from your local office store then you can make sure they are all the same size and can cut a bunch of batting to the same size and use them as you go. If not you will have to layout the binders every time to make sure your batting fits. I cut mine just a bit bigger than the binder about 1/8 inch around.
With the binder on the batting lift up one side and put a line of hot glue around the edge. Lay the side back down and press it into the batting a bit. Pushing hard can push the hot glue through the batting and onto the table.
- DON'T! I repeat DON'T push the batting down onto the glue with your hand the hot glue will come through the batting and burn your fingers. This is why I put it on one side of the binder and fold it back down on the batting. The binder is thick and will protect your fingers from the hot glue. If you do push it through it only gets the table top.
Once one side is done fold up the other side and do the spine of the binder. Run a line of glue down the center and fold it back down to the batting. Then run glue around the other side of the binder like the first and fold it down to the batting.
Doing each section, side, spine, side helps keep the batting from going crooked once its lined up with the binder open, and it keeps the batting from getting bunched up somewhere from jumping from side to side and having it wrinkle somewhere you won't be able to fix when the glue cools.
Step 3: Add the Fabric to the Outside
Layout the fabric with the print side down. Lay the binder with batting on it about 1.5 inch from the bottom and from one side.
Without moving the binder measure 1.5 inch from the other edge and top of the binder in two places near opposite corners. Place the ruler to line up with the two top marks to draw a straight line from the to 1.5 inches from the edge of the uncut side of the binder. Then place the ruler to line up with the two side marks to draw a straight line from the bottom to the top line you just drew.
These are your cut lines to cut the excess fabric off. Cut along these lines and put the extra fabric to the side.
Center the binder on the fabric. Keep the binder from moving on the fabric will you work with it. Fold the bottom edge of the fabric up a 1/4 inch and apply a small drop of glue on it. Slide this folded edge under the metal body of the clamp mount, up to the side of that first rivet, and hold it a few seconds for the glue to cool. You can then do this to the top edge, making sure to pull the fabric snug but not too tight. This should keep the fabric from moving around too much, and sets the center line.
Now, you can start gluing down the top and bottom edges, working from the center out. Both edges are folded over themselves 1/4 inch before folding over the binder edges and gluing. This helps hide the cut edge and the glue keeps the fabric from coming apart. All without sewing. I work in sections of about 2 inches at a time so the glue doesn't cool before I get the fabric on. If you try to do it fast you get burnt fingers from the glue, and the rest of the glue cools while you are trying to get the lava hot glue off your finger without touching it with your other fingers. Stop about 1/2 inch from the edge.
If you get a large bead of glue set up under the fabric creating a lump use the side of the glue gun tip to iron it down as it heats. An iron also works well to flatten hot glue lumps, but don't use the one you use on your clothes. Watch the second hand store to get a used one you don't care if it gets glue on it. Make it your craft iron.
Once you get within about 1/2 inch to the edge stop. Now, fold one side of the fabric over the side of the binder. Run thin lines of glue down the side about 1 inch in from the edge, stopping about 1/2 inch from the top and bottom, and glue the edge down.
As you get to the corners, there will be a lot of extra fabric to try and hide. I cut across the corners taking about 1 inch off before folding it down and gluing. When I glue the corner I fold a small section of fabric under itself then glue it down, then the fold the next piece under and glue it down. This gives the corner a rounded effect rather than just fold the bottom up and the side in. Do the same to the other side and corners.
Once all the edges and corners are glued down, set the binder aside.
Step 4: Cloth Cover the Inside Faces
For the inside faces of the binder I cut tow pieces of card board from a pizza box to 9 1/2 x 11 inches. These will be covered with fabric and glued over the insides of the binder covering the areas open to the binder and the edges of the fabric where it wraps from the front and rear.
Measure in from the side 9 1/2 inches near the top and bottom. Line the edge of the ruler up with these two marks and draw a straight line through them both. Next, measure up from the bottom 11 inches near each side. Line the edge of the ruler up with these two marks and draw a straight line through them both. Cut along these lines so you have a board that is squared on the corners with the size 9 1/2 x 11 inches, and do it all again so you have two the same size.
Bring the left over fabric you set aside a moment ago and cut two pieces from it that are 1/2 inch longer and wider than the card board you just cut, or 10 x 11 1/2 inches. Take one piece of the fabric you just cut, place it face down, put a piece of the card board on it. If the card board is like mine face the printed side away from the fabric. Depending on your fabric thickness, or color the print may show through if it faces the fabric. Fold the fabric over the edges of the card board by 1/4 inch all the way around, gluing it down. Do the same with the other card board and fabric piece.
Once both boards are covered with the fabric, bring the binder back. If the print has a top or up direction make sure the binder's up and the boards up are all the same. If the fabric pattern is random with no directionality to it then it does not matter.
Face the uncovered card board side to the inside uncovered binder surface. Position one so it is about 1/4 inch from the top, bottom, and side of the binder. Make sure it is straight and square to these edges. Carefully lift the top edge and put a small line of glue under it and press the board into it and hold until it cools and sets up. If you put too much glue it can be pushed out the edge and if you are not careful get your fingers. Work to the side and do the same, then the bottom, and lastly the inside edge. The last edge is the most difficult because you can't pull up very much since the other sides are glued down. Repeat this on the other side.
Now both the inside faces are covered and it's cool, you are done with the glue, fabric, and card board.
Step 5: Print Your Stories & Put Them in the Book
Print out your favorite Christmas stories, poems, songs, activities, religious reference, story reference, or whatever you want to make your Christmas fun and memorable.
Remember you can print these on regular paper, fancy scrap book paper, or parchment paper like I used. Take some time and really make them nice. I chose some fonts I really liked, embedded some clip art, and made the individual pages really look nice before I printed them out.
I like a more classic rural look, but you can make your's more whimsical, more Victorian or what ever style makes Christmas more memorable for you.
The actual stories vary and everyone has their favorites. Some like a more religious based Christmas, others more secular, and some a big mix of both. You can include activities in the book or include them with a shorter story.
Some of the stories and activities my family enjoy have been included from our ancestry (Swedish, Danish, Scottish, English, Albanian, German, fun). Here are a few examples we have in it or reference:
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr Seuss (1904-1991)
- The Gift of the Magi - O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) (1862-1910)
- Papa Panov's Special Christmas - Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
- Little Match Girl - Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
- We Three Kings - John H. Hopkins Jr. (1820-1891)
- Mary Did You Know - Mark Lowry (1957- )
- Make German Oven Pancakes
- Luke 1:26-38, 46, 47
- Luke 2:1-20
- Matthew 2:1-14
Step 6: Share Your Book
There you have it. A Christmas Advent book for your family to share, or to give as a gift. They can make some simple but great gifts to share with others. We have had fun with ours and my kids love it and can't wait to read the next story, song, or activity.
Make one for yourself, and share the photo below.
Hope you like this and remember to vote for this one in the Homemade Christmas Gifts contest.