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Updated January 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best DIY Advent calendars

DIY Advent calendars are a great way to keep up with the latest Advent calendar trends without spending a fortune. While they once revealed nothing but festive pictures, then moved onto pieces of chocolate, you can now find Advent calendars containing everything from Lego figures to polished gemstones to mini bottles of gin.

A DIY Advent calendar consists of containers that you can fill with your own gifts, leaving it down to your imagination. You'll find a range of DIY Advent calendars available, so choosing the best type for you is the first step. You'll also need to consider whether you want to decorate it yourself or you'd prefer an option that's already decorated, plus what size and how many containers you require.

Once you've learned more about DIY Advent calendars and seen some recommendations, picking your perfect option will be far simpler. This lets you get to the fun part of filling your Advent calendar more quickly.

DIY advent calendar
You can save money making a DIY Advent calendar compared to buying a high-end Advent calendar containing gifts rather than candy.

How to buy the best DIY Advent calendar

Is it worth making your own Advent calendar?

This is down to the individual. Not everyone has the time or inclination to make their own Advent calendar, and that's fine. However, if you think making your own Advent calendar seems fun, you might be wondering if it makes financial sense. In most cases, the answer is yes. For example, there's currently a gemstone Advent calendar available for around $40, but you could buy 24 or 25 gemstones for less than $10 if you shop around.

Of course, you have to factor in the cost of the calendar, but you can reuse it in years to come, so it will soon pay for itself. Outside of cost considerations, many people think it's worth making Advent calendars just to make their loved ones happy. Because you can tailor a calendar to contain anything you want, you can curate the perfect gifts for the recipient.

You can stick to a theme with your Advent calendar, sticking to toys or beauty products, for instance, but don't be afraid to mix it up — that's the beauty of DIY Advent calendars.

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Types of DIY Advent calendars

Wooden drawers: This style of Advent calendar features a selection of wooden drawers for you to fill. It's the most durable type of DIY Advent calendar and also generally the most expensive. Some are fairly simple while others are extremely elaborate, taking the form of a gingerbread house, for instance.

Cardboard boxes: Consisting of small cardboard boxes that can be filled with items of your choosing, this type of DIY Advent calendar is generally quite affordable and can be highly decorative, as cardboard is easy to print on. While they’re reusable, they aren't the most durable and may only last a couple of years.

Pockets: These fabric Advent calendars have pockets that you can tuck items into. They're durable and easy to hang on a wall, but if the pockets aren't big enough, it's easy to peek inside.

Pouches: Featuring individual fabric pouches, this style of calendar isn't the most elaborate, but it's affordable, durable, and versatile.

Plain vs. decorated

You can buy DIY Advent calendars that are already decorated, so all you need to do is fill them with gifts. There are also plain versions that require decoration. Both are great options, but it depends how much effort you want to go to and how good you are at arts and crafts. If you're an artistic person and you have the time, you can personalize your Advent calendar and make it look really special. However, you can find some gorgeous readily-decorated options if you don't have the time or the skill.

DIY advent calendar
DID YOU KNOW?
DIY Advent calendars don't have to contain anything expensive — an Advent calendar simply adds to the excitement in the run-up to Christmas.
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What features do DIY Advent calendars have?

Numbers

Some calendars are already numbered, while others leave it to you to add the numbers yourself. It's easier if each container is already numbered for you, but if you number them yourself, you can decide whether the containers should be numbered in order or if you want to mix up the order to add the challenge of finding the corresponding container each day.

Varying size containers

While most calendars have boxes or other containers of equal sizes, some have a variety of container sizes. This is ideal if you'll be including a range of items, some of which are bigger than others.

Reusable

A quality DIY Advent calendar should be reusable so you can fill it again in years to come. This makes them more eco-friendly than standard Advent calendars, which often contain plastic parts and will be thrown away come Christmas Day.

How much do DIY Advent calendars cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable calendars cost as little as $5 to $15. These are generally fabric pouch-style Advent calendars and undecorated cardboard boxes.

Mid-range

Mid-range DIY Advent calendars cost $15 to $30. These include more elaborate cardboard boxes and pouches, as well as pocket-style Advent calendars and undecorated or minimally decorated wooden drawers.

Expensive

Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 for a high-end calendar. These are usually wooden and highly decorated. The most expensive will be highly decorative.

Consider using eco-friendly materials and gifts when decorating and filling your DIY Advent calendar.

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DIY Advent calendar tips

  • Plan ahead. Putting together a DIY Advent calendar takes time and effort, so try to plan ahead where possible, selecting the calendar and gifts well in advance. If you're pressed for time, choose a calendar that's already decorated and consider filling just the first week’s worth of boxes and taking a bit more time to source the gifts for the rest.
  • Consider how many containers you want. Traditionally, Advent calendars have 24 windows, as they count down to Christmas from the first day of December to the last day of Advent on Christmas Eve. However, some people prefer to have 25 containers, so there's one to open on Christmas morning. What's great about DIY Advent calendars is that you can start whenever you like, so if you want to have seven containers to count down the week before Christmas, that's up to you.
  • Think about your audience. Consider the preferences of the person who you're making an advent calendar for. You have the chance to make something really special that's tailored to exactly what they like.
  • Play to your strengths. Don't get caught up in what you've seen on Pinterest or Instagram, and play to your strengths. For instance, if you're not good at arts and crafts, don't buy an Advent calendar that you'll need to decorate yourself since you might not be happy with the results.
DIY advent calendar
It's fun to go all out at Christmas, but don't overextend yourself and cause yourself stress. A ready-made fillable DIY Advent calendar will do just fine if you don’t want to decorate one yourself.

FAQ

Q. What should I fill my DIY Advent calendar with?

A. You have many options when it comes to filling a DIY Advent calendar. You can either stick to the same type of item each day, such as a toy or a bag of fancy tea, or you can choose a mixture of different types of items.

When making a DIY Advent calendar for kids, options include candy, small toys, hair accessories, mini toiletries/beauty products, craft supplies, crystals, or temporary tattoos.

When making an Advent calendar for adults, items you can fill it with include mini bottles of alcohol, fancy tea bags or coffee pods, small tech gadgets, mini toiletries, jewelry, and scratch-off lottery cards. If you want to avoid small products that might not end up getting much use, you could fill each container with a "coupon" for a festive experience, like carol singing, collecting holly and pine cones for decoration, making hot cocoa, or watching a Christmas movie.

Q. How can I make a homemade calendar?

A. You can make a DIY Advent calendar completely from scratch, but you'll need some craft or DIY skills and time to pull it off. There are many ways to go about it, such as making a small set of wood or plywood drawers or sewing pouches. However, for many people, it makes sense to save time and effort by getting a DIY Advent calendar kit that you can fill yourself and potentially decorate, but that you don't have to make from scratch.

Q. How can I make an Advent calendar with my own pictures?

A. For some, revealing a different festive picture each day is part of the fun of an Advent calendar. If you want to add pictures to your DIY calendar, you can stick a picture to the base of a wooden drawer or inside the lid of a cardboard box. Alternatively, you can put a loose card with a festive picture on it in a fabric pocket or pouch-style Advent calendar.

 

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