Two years ago the Pottery Barn debuted this advent calendar in their Pottery Barn Kids catalog. I loved it! I loved the way there were pockets for every day and I imagined our future family (we didn't have kids yet) tucking little gifts into the pockets and exchanging them each day leading up to Christmas.
I remember as a kid, my parents would get a paper advent calendar that had little doors and each night, after my dad got home from work we would all stand around the fridge while he opened the door. The anticipation of the moment is still a vivid memory of my childhood, one that I wanted my own children to experience too.
I wanted to order it back in 2008, but it was $69 (!!) and we didn't have any kids at that time so it didn't seem like a legitimate purchase (not that you need kids to have an Advent calendar). So I decided then that I would make it. I went down to the local craft store and purchased several yards of green felt and a whole stack of 8x11 pieces of felt in every color I could find and a whole bunch of embroidery floss (the same supplies I used for those easy felt ornaments).
I roughly followed the same dimensions that were listed in the Pottery Barn catalog: 36" wide and 61" high.When it came to the shape of the tree, I folded the felt in half and with a dark marker drew the shape of the tree onto the felt. I also copied some of the pocket motifs: the snowman, stocking, santa and ribbons, but I also personalized many of the pockets with places that are important to our family.
Here's the Pottery Barn Version
Here's my version:
A look at some of the pockets:
For most of the pockets I glued the small pieces then used a blanket stitch around them to secure them and give a more finished look.
Baby Jesus in the manger.
Gift and mittens.
The North Pole
Christmas tree light strings (really they are buttons!) and gingerbread.
Tree and ornaments.
Pockets can hold all kinds of goodies: stickers, playing cards, little activity kits, note pads...
And then there were the pockets I made that had personal significance:
Lighthouse, since we vacation every year at the beach in Maine where my husband's family owns a beach house.
Cactus, for the years we lived in Arizona and had "Christmas in the Desert."
Mt. Washington summit, where my husband and I first met hiking.
The Tree is two pieces of felt stitched together. I didn't put any sort of batting or interfacing in between. It was stiff enough on its own.
Three O-rings on the back to hang from. It lays flat nicely against the wall without any need for extra support.
It took me about a year to make, not because it time consuming, but because it was one of those projects that I just kept putting off. I finished it last year, just in time for Christmas. Last Christmas Sophia was a brand-new, two-week-old baby, this year she'll be a year old and more able to participate in our new family tradition!