Make your own advent calendar, second year running

As I’m still stuck indoors with a cold—my head finally cleared last night, at a feverish dream’s stressful climax, but my lungs and sinuses still itch like blazes—I’ve been able to let my mind wander over all the bits and pieces I’ve meant to blog these past few weeks. Most of them seem rather pointless now, but I’d still like to mention this year’s makeshift advent calendar.

Last year, the local shops and supermarkets made it so difficult for us to buy an advent calendar without chocolate in it that we decided to make our own. We stuck together a collage of the year’s stars, plus George Foreman and Charlotte Church, and spent advent 2005 drawing shaky boxes over hilarious parts of their anatomy. So far I’ve not managed to take a photograph of it that does it justice, but there’ll be one eventually: the first law of making shift is that you should expect the temporary to hang around for some time, and we certainly don’t plan to throw it away any time yet.

Advent calendar - ten wrapped boxes

Like any break from tradition, this has set a precedent that’s in danger of becoming its own tradition. And so this year we of course wanted to do the same, only different. A consignment of business cards at work had been printed incorrectly and written off, leaving us with dozens of plastic boxes. At the time (some eight months ago) I thought, I’ll have some of those, with no real idea of what I might do with them.

Early in November, I finally worked out how to put them to good use. K. and I would turn them into an advent calender: copying, in a way, the idea of the calendars that turned us into amateur artsandcrafters in the first place; but our spark of genius would be that we wouldn’t just put chocolate in them. Sounds mad, I know, extreme and distressing for those of you who like market homogeneity, but it’s visionaries like us that keep culture moving.

Advent calendar - ten wrapped boxes plus some yellow stickers

We took ten boxes and split them into twenty halves: slightly different sizes but not by much. The presents were put into the boxes, which were individually wrapped: if you wrap them upside down, all the sellotaped seams are eventually hidden behind the calendar. A coin-toss then made sure we numbered the boxes randomly, marking the presents for K. with a pink dot by the number. We’d have liked two more boxes (Dec 1–24) but twenty were to make a nice rectangular shape.

Advent calendar hanging up

The boxes were stuck on backing card, and to each other, with loops of tape (we’d lost the double-sided tape). Finally, to add a bit more structure, we covered all the gaps between boxes with red and yellow masking tape. We hung it up rather badly and it eventually fell down, but was otherwise completely unharmed.

It now sits on the bedroom windowsill, and every morning makes this time of year a little bit less miserable. So far K. has had blackcurrant tea, spare earring butterflies and (yes) a chocolate for variety; I’ve had chewing-gum and a truffle. I know what’s in store for K, and I can’t wait for the rest of this advent to pan out. It’s all I can do to put the scissors down.

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This entry was posted in art, arts_and_crafts, christmas_2006, occupation, seasons, time. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Make your own advent calendar, second year running

  1. looby says:

    My heart’s thermostat has just gone up a notch.

  2. HTFB says:

    Cockles, like all seafood, should be kept in a properly regulated chiller cabinet. Get this fixed.

  3. Janet says:

    When I was small (um, actually, until I was about 19) my sister and I had an advent calendar made of tiny knitted stockings hung over a tapestry picture, so as you took the stockings down the picture was revealed (though as we reused it every year for about 20 years, the picture became less of a surprise each time). My parents filled the stockings with different stuff each year — sometimes chocolates or sweets, sometimes stickers or other bits and bobs, but one year it was a treasure hunt, and twice they put jigsaw pieces in the stockings so that we slowly completed a big jigsaw over the course of the month (they’d done the jigsaw beforehand to make sure that each day’s pieces joined on to the previous day’s).

    I did something similar for Owen last year with little giftboxes from Paperchase piled like presents under our scrappy 6-inch plastic Christmas tree (the one we rescued from the bin when we moved into the house at Cambridge). Maybe next year we should do something between us so I get lots of little presents too so it’s more of a collaborative effort HINT HINT OWEN. 🙂

  4. sbalb says:

    Well, you’re welcome to twenty plastic trays, two careful owners. We are not moving with them.

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