I remember when i was a little boy and my dad made a homemade christmas advent calendar with a small present for every day in December from the 1st until the 24th... This year i decided to make one for my girlfriends kids...
What you need:
- 2 cardboard boxes (size equals time you'll spend, i got my 2 boxes for free at the local bikeshop, normally they throw them out anyway
- 24 pieces of thin cardboard (blank postcards are perfect)
- Paint roller
- White prime paint
- Different colored paint (depending on the image you create)
- Brushes in different sizes
- A mixture of color pens, both types and colors and a pensil
- A good quality magic marker
- White ducktape
- A disposable kitchen cloth
- A rubberband
- A ruler
- And a whole lot of space and time :)
I'm sure it varies a lot, but i actually had most of the stuff i needed already. I used excess paint from last year, random good and bad quality pens i had laying around and i got the boxes for free at the bikeshop around the corner. Making this calendar can be done almost free of charge. the only money i spend was buying small gifts for each day :)
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Step 1: Priming and Sketching
Prime the strongest and most stable box, you might need a double or triple layer, when its dry you can start sketching the image you wanna paint. I chose a tall house with a lot of windows, this goes well with creating openable "doors" for each day. But only your imagination stops you from designing, creating and drawing any kind of image or fantasy you or your kids like.
Sketch with a pencil and do it soft so you can erase later, drawing to hard will cause the lines to sink in to the cardboard and makes it really hard to erase.
Step 2: Painting and Drawing
After sketching the house, the roof, the windows and kids playing in front og the house, i startet painting the walls red and the sky blue and the roof a brown tile-like color... i'd like to think... The cardboard boxes often have a smooth surface, so If the painting crosses your lines, you can use a wet cloth to wipe away the paint.
Now you can use the black magic marker and draw the outlines of all the objects. I used a grey color pen to draw lines to create a brick like surface on the house. Draw the on top of the red paint after it's dry with a light hand.
Use the different color pens to draw the figures or other smaller objects/things you add. Drawing the snow and the snowman can be done quite easy and it looks great. First you draw small shadows with a lightblue color, then you use a brush and white paint on top of the shadows. A thick layer gives a great look and the blue can be faintly seen behind the white. The same trick goes for she snow on the roof.
I gave the window frames a yellow color with a black outline on both sides of the yellow, it looks good on the red brick wall. The christmas tree was done with 3 layers of green beginning with the lightest ending up with the darkest. Just make a lot of short strokes diagonally left on left and right on right side.
Step 3: Cutting Doors
When you are done painting the box you'll start cutting the doors. I used the black magic marker lines on the inside of the yellow strokes of the window frames to guide my cutting. Use a sharp Scalpel and you might have to change the blade along the way. It's easiest doing this while the box is laying down.
Cutting round doors is actually surprisingly easy if the scalpel is sharp.
Using white ducktape you can create small almost invisible "door-handles" or -"knobs". Tear of a small piece of tape and fold the end in half an inch or so. Just add the tape on the inside of the doors letting the small folded slip protrude a on the front.
Be sure to make the cutting thin and narrow, the doors will then be able to be closed and stay closed because of the slightly rough edges of the door and the frame sitting so close together.
Step 4: Shelves and "rooms"
Creating shelves and rooms inside the box takes a bit of precision. Use the ruler and the scalpel to cut out the horizontal shelves. They need to be as long as the first box is wide and they need to be a tiny bit wider than the first box is deep - So use the ruler to measure the box before cutting the shelves. This way the shelves will be wedged in the box and keep the box squared and stable.
Start at the bottom of the box, slide the shelves in and secure them with ducktape. You can do this from the side but at the same time it makes it easier sticking your hand in through the cut doors on the front.
You can make rooms for each door by inserting "walls" between the doors. Obviously you need to insert the first walls furthest away from the opening of the box :)
Step 5: Let It Snow!
Make smal snowflakes all over the calendar image with this smart little homemade dot-maker. Cut a small piece of the tablecloth and stretch it down on the end of a pencil, secure it with a rubberband. Now you can dip it in white paint and start "dot'ing" all over the box.
I made large firm dots on the top 2 thirds of the image and made lighter smaller dots on the bottom part, this fitted better with the size of the kids playing in front of the house.
Step 6: 24 Numbers
Cut the blank paper/cardboard cards so they fit the 24 different doors. A had 16 postcard sized and the rest was different sizes. First i drew each card lightly with a pencil, drawing a frame and a big number. Then i used the magic marker to firmly outline frame and number. Lastly fill out the frame and the numbers with different colors.
I used double sided tape to stick the numbers on each door.
Step 7: Fill It Up!
Fill each room with a gift for the day. This will probably be your biggest expense, but it can also be done very cheap. I wrapped up a small piece of candy for every other day and for the other days i bought small cheap and useful toys ect: stickers, a cardgame, a timeglass with colored sand and other fun stuff
Step 8: That's It,
Remember to close the opening of the box tightly with ducktape. If you wrap the whole thing up and store it dry, you can use it every christmas years ahead. I thought about painting small people doing different things in each window, but i didn't have the time this year... I might do this for next year. Also you can use your creativity to "design" each room. You can paint the walls and make small snow landscapes with cotton, figures and so on. Lots of possibilities to expand with details. Anyway, the kids were in awe and couldn't believe what they saw when they woke up to this thing the 1. of December.
Please drop any comments or suggestions, and if you make one, please let me hear about your problems, hurdles and succeses. Have a merry christmas and a happy new year!