Friday, November 26, 2010

count-down calendar 2010

advent 1
I'm so excited to share this year's count-down calendar inspired, once again, by the humble toilet paper tube.  I loved the 2008 version and am quite proud of the 2009 iteration that landed in the recent holiday Woman's Day Special... but this year's advent calendar is my favorite! 24 little houses {with doors that open and shut} are hung from a bouquet of bare winter branches. This idea lends itself to customization of both the house decorating and the display venue. String them on a garland, nestle them in a little evergreen, or tack each one to a bulletin board in tidy rows. Perfect for making it represent your style and home. I still haven't decided how my family will showcase it come December 1st, but for now it's going on the mantle just like this. The branches are anchored in a recycled can filled with the same marble chips we grow our winter bulbs in.
advent 6
Hidden behind each door will be a time ticket (a family tradition now!) or a slip of paper with a clue to where a tiny treat is hidden in the house... treasure hunting is very popular around here. If you've been saving up tubes, but don't have enough for each day, just make these into sweet little ornaments instead.We collected them all year, so I had more than was needed for a count-down to Christmas. The extras were turned into blank houses for my children to decorate for ornaments and present toppers as we move into December. Here are the instructions for you to create some of your own:

Little Winter Houses
  • 24 toilet tubes (or the number of days you are counting)
  • paint and brushes
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • pencil or pen
  • painter's tape
  • fastener of choice: sewing machine,glue gun or stapler
  • Xacto knife 
  • standard hole punch
  • decorative hole punches (optional)
  • rubber stamp numerals and ink pad
  1. Create a pointed roof by marking the center point of an open end of the tube.  Using the  midpoint, measure an equal distance to the folded edge on each side. Snip off ends with scissors and close roof and bottom opening with your fastener of choice. I'm a huge fan of sewing on paper, so this is my favorite step.
  2. Decorate your house! I used a strip of painter's tape to quickly and evenly paint white roof tops.
  3. I removed the tape when the paint was dry and painted the base or kept it blank. The example I used for this tutorial only has one coat of paint. Later, I decided that two coats was the look I was after. Leaving them natural reminds me of gingerbread houses, so I ended up keeping a third of them like this... and I'm sure I'll be experimenting with that idea in the next few weeks.
  4. Using a straight edge and an Xacto knife cut three sides of the door. Gently score the side that will be the "hinge", careful not to cut through to the other side. Open the door and punch a hole for the knob. Punch a hole at the point of the roof for hanging or slipping on a loop of ribbon.
 advent step 1 and 2
advent 3
advent  steps 3 and 4

Put any finishing touches on your house. I love paper punches for their miraculous powers to transform recycled paper. Here I used the snowflakes and vines from Martha Stewart. Paper bags and envelopes have never looked so good!

advent embellishing
When you're done, arrange in the order that pleases you and number them. Rubber stamps make it simple. We hung them randomly from a branch, because searching for the right day is part of the fun!
advent 2
I'd love to see yours if you give it a try, so be sure to add them to our flickr group.
Happy Making!
Pin It


  1. AWESOME, Maya, soooo very creative ! Loving the shape & the doors that actually open & close !!
    Maybe you meant Martha Stewart eheh :)
    working on finding activities for ours ! oxoxo have a great weekend !!

  2. What a great advent calendar. love the opening and closing doors. I'm looking forward to bringing out our advent calendar next week. Have a great weekend.

  3. Thanks you two!
    Sonia- I so appreciate your editing tip! Oh Martha! My post Thanksgiving brain is still a bit fuzzy! :)

  4. gorgeous!!! love, love, love the blue green and brown! so inspired by you!!!! happy holidays!!!!

  5. awesome, really!!
    I'll try this as well. As I didn't keep our empty toilet rolls, I'll use two layers of thin card box and sew on all sides.

  6. Nice blog; lots of good ideas and lovely images to show them off!

  7. I love this! I can't wait to go try it!

  8. I have been waiting for this one!! I love it!

  9. Gorgeous - and here I was, about to recycle the one from last year- I am totally inspired to make this one instead!!

  10. Very creative. We have a branch hanging horizontally from thanksgiving. I can just keep it up and hang these off it!

  11. gorgeous, love your toilet roll ideas!

  12. I love advent calendars, and this one is just fabulous.

  13. great idea, the calendar looks wonderfull!!!

    ps. what's inside?

  14. i was on pins and needles waiting to see what those tubes would become! love it!! and love the color choices as well. ...oh to be a child in your home...

  15. Maya this is beautiful. I love it and how resourceful to use toilet paper rolls again ;0

    By the way I'm having a giveaway that I think you will like ;)

  16. beautiful idea the houses! i 'm still missing a few rolls but i think i have an idea of how to replace the missing one~will use soap bar boxes and mix match the "houses". oh i cannot wait to start playing with that.

  17. I love your toilet paper tube ideas!
    I'm saving them as inspiration for my students.

  18. I love this ! I've been saving tubes since I saw your blog earlier this year, so I have enough, I think there will be little houses in my tree ! Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas.

  19. toilet paper rolls never cease to amaze me! and I heard there is a company making tubeless rollsof toilet paper. what will we do without the tubes? crafting will end I guess:(

  20. You've done it again Maya!I can't wait to make your count down calendar for my grandsons.Thanks for sharing another great idea!- Rebecca

  21. Love these! I'm thinking we will add a new one to the tree everyday. My kidlets LOVE treasure hunts.

    It would be lovely if you would give as a few examples of your treasure hunt treats or other ideas. ;-)

  22. our countdown calendar is fabulous! I know it as an Advent Calendar, in spite of being pretty much a heathen now. In fact, they have been a huge part of my Decembers for many years. I have cross-stitched many from Swedish patterns, sewn little gift bags and made them part of other families' traditions. I still "do" one for a dear friend and her growing family, after 17 years! You're on to a great thing.

  23. what a beautiful ides! I love the way they look. I also love sewing paper or cardboard. There is something so awesome about running it through my machine. I love architectural too! We dont do christmas in our family, but I am sure there is a way we could work this into a little project...

  24. Oh wow I love these!!! Inspiring as always!

  25. Really gorgeous!Love that you recycled something that you already had and love the colour scheme! Angie xo

  26. I can't get the hang of sewing on paper but I'll give it another go for this! Too too creative... I just love it!

  27. I tried to prepare your calendar, the Advent, I hope you understand it all. Thanks for the great idea. I love your page and see what you can do it. Thanks.

  28. I love it, Maya! This is my favorite too. I'm a sucker for houses. We've never celebrated Advent but we do Hanukkah/Solstice/Christmas so we might as well add another tradition in the mix. The time tickets are brilliant.

  29. Yay! what a lovely new design!! I made my advent calender from your inspiration using very similar setting to your calender from last year!! love your blog, and feel free to come past mine for a visit.. xx

  30. We love using toilet paper rolls for crafts around our house A LOT! The kids and I will definitely have to make some of these cute houses and use them as present labels. You always come up with such wonderful yet simple ideas. Thanks!

  31. Hi, this is my first time to your blog. I've been doing a search for advent calendar ideas and came across your blog through a long rabbit trail. I love your idea of using toilet paper rolls. We use them for a lot of recycled projects too but I have never thought of using them like this. This is a great Advent calendar!

    If possible, with your permission, I'd like to use one of your photos to link to your yo-yo advent post at my blog but not a problem if your prefer I didn't. :-) I have my post Lovely Advent Calendars - Inspiring Projects up but I can easily remove anything if your prefer that I do.

    You have so many wonderful ideas! I will be spending more time looking around your blog.

    DeeJae (Deb)
    altered heART works

  32. Hi! I was searching for Advent ideas and found TWO fabulous ideas from your blog, linked them up with my own at: let me know if you have anything you need for me to edit or delete. I'm still pretty green when it comes to blogging and don't want to step on any toes (specifically yours because your ideas are AMAZING!) I'll be checking in more often now that I've seen what you're capable of! :)