Introduction: Family Papercraft: Winter Forest Advent Calender

About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

Everybody loves the feeling of opening a little treat every day leading up to Christmas; our family is no exception. My wife has prepared several different types of calendars for me and girls in the past, and we decided to finally put one together for her; no one in the world is more deserving. I wanted to make something that my girls could really help with; in the end they really pulled their own weight (so much tracing and cutting involved). The inspiration came from Google images with the snow caps and labels developed with the girls.

My wife is not so keen on chocolate, so I was looking for another prize that had the right form factor. I spotted a deal on Sephora for a free makeup bundle with purchase (I bought another bundle). So she will be getting purfume, mascara, lipstick, or "regeneerizing-biokaratin-skin-tightening-pore-reducing-eyeball-expanding-serum" each day to try out. I would love to be in the boardroom when they come up with the marketing for this stuff!

This project was very easy and fun to make, although I had some cheap labor with tiny nimble fingers helping me out.


I ran out to the craft store to pick up some big sheets of green and white textured card stock. I may have gotten away with sheets of construction paper, except for the largest cones and limited shades of green.

  1. 4 sheets of different shades of green card stock
  2. 1 sheet of white card stock
  3. Scissors
  4. Stencils (I had planned on stamps, but the kits were way overpriced at the craft store)
  5. Thin markers
  6. Pot lids or other circular shaped objects of various radii
  7. Cardboard to make the tracing shapes


This step will depend on the number of sizes you plan on making. I ended up using only the 2 largest diameter shapes cones as well as another from a giant serving tray. You need to remember that the height of your trees is going to be the radius of the circle you are using, this was shorter than I imagined when making the templates.

Trace the outline of the pot lids onto the cardboard. You don't have to do the entire circles, I had wrongly assumed that more than half the circumference would be needed to make a good cone. In the end you need maybe just over a third of them.

Find the center of the circles with a ruler in 2 or more sections. Eyeballing it is not going to cut it, humans are not that skilled in estimating this point (guess it and measure it: you'll see what I mean). Cut out your templates with scissors.

Use the smallest of your templates and cut out a botryoidal (lobes: sorry I am a geologist and there is a perfectly good word for this shape...) pattern on the arcuate side of the template. This will serve as the drooping snow hanging off the tops of the trees. You can make two patterns if you are worried that the snow droop pattern will be too consistent.

I made these the night before to have everything ready for production the next day.


This is the most time consuming and kid friendly step; thus perfect for a Saturday morning project when mom is out of the house.

Trace a few of each template onto each of the sheets of green paper; starting with the largest shape and trying to keep the straight edges along the edge of the paper as much as possible. This will ensure that you maximize the paper "real estate" and minimize cutting. You make a total of 25 green shapes...

Trace 25 lobe shapes into the white paper. Cut around each shape.


The thinner your paper, the easier it is going to be to make the cone shape. The trickiest part is the tip of the cone due to the tight curve; I would start by making a tapered cylinder and rolling the tip between my finger and thumb while using my other hand to force the cone closed. This was my job, I am sure the girls could have made the cones too, but they were busy tracing and cutting.

We ended up using staples to keep the cones closed; one as high up as we could get, and another near the base. The card stock had too much spring in it to make glue or tape practical. Many of the cones have considerable splits down the back; no matter, they are displayed in 2D...


Before you form the snow caps into cones, you will want to mark up each one with numbers 1 to 25. I had wanted to use stamps, but the kits I found at the craft store were unreasonably expensive. I bought a cheap stencil kit instead.

We tried several different patterns and colors before settling on a black outline (thin black marker first) with red fill (medium thick marker with two passes).


You could put a dab of white glue onto each snow cap before placing them (we put them on like hats). The calender is up now, my wife loves it even though she probably thinks there is leftover Halloween candy under those trees... I'll update later this month. Happy Holidays!

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