Introduction: Beer Advent Calendar

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Count down to the holidays with a special calendar that reveals a different beer every day. The beer advent calendar adds a little mystery to your holiday drinking. There are 24 days in most advent calendars, but mine is 25 - because if there is any day when you're going to want a beer I think it would be the 25th.

This beer advent calendar is made from cardboard shipping tubes and a poster board printout, and makes a killer gift idea for your beer loving friend. This is a fun twist on the boring chocolate advent calendars I had growing up that were never very satisfying - to eat or to open. As an adult, my tastes are more refined. I still like chocolate, but I have a new mistress, and her name is beer. 

Advent calendars being a wintertime seasonal item, I themed my beer advent calendar after the classic Windows game Ski Free. Also, my friend that is receiving this beer advent calendar is a huge computer nerd and would appreciate the nod.

Here's what I used to make mine:
  • hobby knife
  • white glue
  • duct tape
  • packing tubes
  • poster print
  • lots of beer

Step 1: Cut Tubes + Glue

I got my tubes from a printing house that uses these tubes to ship large posters. I bought both for about $10. I took measurements of the beer diameter before purchasing, to ensure they would fit inside with some room to spare.

Beverage cans in North America are typically 4.5" high x 2.4" diameter. My tubes were about 3" in diameter, and each tube was cut into 5" long sections using a sharp hobby knife. With my 2 tubes I had enough for 24 equal sections and had two small remaining portions that were glued together to make 25 evenly high tube sections.

After cutting I glued 4 rows of 6 and let the glue dry completely. Then I stacked the rows on top of each other, staggered; resulting in a tidy matrix of tubes. 

Step 2: Adding a 25th Spot

I always though advent calendars were missing an easy trick by not including something on the 25th. I understand that advents are leading up to the day, but who wouldn't want an extra day of awesome stuff. Especially beer.

Totally break all the rules and make your advent calendar as long as you want. Do it, the recipient is sure to thank you. I put my 25th day on the end of one of my rows and glued it in place. Then, the entire matrix was bound in duct tape as an extra measure to ensure it all stays together.

Step 3: Encase

Wanting a box shape, measurements were taken of all exterior dimensions and cardboard panels were cut to match. For reference, my overall dimensions were 22.24" wide x 12" tall x 5.25" deep. Glue was generously applied to all sides and cardboard panels were installed, leaving the top open. Glue was left to set overnight.

Step 4: Make Calendar Cover

The advent calendar is going to need a cover to conceal it's contents. The two basic layouts are one large picture over the entire calendar, or a small picture over a day (or group of days). I decided to go for one large picture covering the entire calendar, I tried to make it look very busy with lots going on on or around each day.

Being as this is a winter gift and I live in a mountainous area I chose a ski scene from my favourite classic Windows game, Ski Free. Since the recipient of this calendar grew up programming on old Windows machines, I know he'll appreciate the theme. it's nerdy nostalgia.

I made mine by opening an image editing suite and creating a new canvas. Using the dimensions I took earlier to make the box for the tube matrix the canvas has to be large enough for the front and sides. The first picture a layer superimposed to show face  dimension and the cut lines at the corners. I lined up the image with the box underneath by marking the corners with a bare tree, an image seldom used elsewhere in the image. Once the dimensions were set I made a circle the same exterior diameter as the cardboard tubes I used. Then I copied them to recreate the physical matrix I made. Numbers from 1-24 were randomly assigned to each circle. My extra 25th spot was numbered specifically for that location and then decorated with a large Yeti.

I have included a blank version of my Ski Free image, and a sized PDF you are free to download and use. The PDF can also be edited in some image suites (Photoshop, GIMP), this file has all the layers I used in creating my image.

Step 5: Populate Calendar

Start filling in tubes with beer, if you have multiples of one kind be mindful of your numbering and not have the same beer on consecutive days.

I left my 25th day open for a little surprise. Something other than beer.

Step 6: My Extra Day

Maybe I ran out of beer, or maybe one was consumed when the beers were being filled in. But I decided to do something different that beer on my extra day.

Since my advent design was Ski Free I thought it only fitting that on the 25th day the Ski Free Yeti would come out and attack. After 24 beers and being attacked by a Yeti you may be feeling a little rough, so I included some Pepto Bismol and acetaminophen (paracetamol).

Step 7: Glue Cover + Back

I started by covering the back and sides of my frame with white poster board. You can make errors here and not worry too much as the front cover printout will wrap around the sides and hide most imperfections.

I used white glue on the tops of all the cardboard tubes. Cover as many tops as possible with a small bead of glue. If a small amount of glue falls inside the tubes it's not a big deal. Then, run a thick bead of glue along the outside frame.

Carefully line up the printout markers (as seen in Step 4 - mine were the dead trees) with the corners of the box and gently press in place. Since cut cardboard tubes had some variation the poster did not sit perfectly flat. I placed a few heavy towels over the cover for weight and let glue dry.

The corners were cut according to our 45 degree markings (as designed in Step 4). Theses edges are then glued to the sides.

Step 8: Incisions

I thought about a few ways to access the beer and the simplest were cross incisions in the centre of each day, allowing a controlled start of an opening. After the cover glue has dried, use a sharp hobby knife and gently make two incisions on each day.

Step 9: * Bonus* First Attempt

My first attempt was to make a square receptacle. I tried making corresponding cuts in cardboard and assemble them together perpendicularly. After spending a while getting the cuts right and gluing down all the sides I felt like it just wasn't what I wanted. Besides, I wanted 25 days and this option just left me with 24. 

I have seen in some restaurants and bars when they ship new glassware they are packed in boxes that would work perfectly for this. Short, evenly segmented squares in cardboard. I gave up after a week of asking and went with tubes instead. Patience, good quality cardboard and a sharp knife may make this option viable for some.

Step 10:

This calendar is now ready to dispense daily doses of drink.

Have fun!

Did you make your own advent calendar? Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below.

Happy making :)

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