Reducing waste through upcycling, repurposing, refashioning and reloving.

Reusable Advent Calendar and DIY Holiday Cards


Season's greetings fab friends! I realize that it's a bit late to be sharing an idea for a reusable advent calendar, but hey... maybe it'll provide some last-minute inspiration for some of you! And the embroidered cards are super-easy to make, so it's not too late to try them.

In case you hadn't noticed, the theme this year is YARN. I wondered just how far I could stretch a single ball and I already have my answer: far! Nope, not spinning you a tall tale... everything you see below was done with one ball and I have plenty left to finish this year's batch of cards.

Up first: instructions for the cards. Scroll down for the advent calendar tutorial!  






I saw a few embroidered holiday cards on Pinterest, but couldn't find any instructions. So there was a little trial-and-error here and I'll say this: if you want to get your kids involved, use embroidery floss or very thin yarn. While I love the colors in the yarn we picked, it needs a really big needle, which in turn requires some forcing through the little holes. 




Step 1: Cut yourself a cardboard template. Then, using a push-pin, make holes around the edge of your template. Don't line them up perfectly! As you start working, you'll see that the over all effect is more interesting if the lines of yarn aren't perfectly straight. 



Step 2: Get stitching! Ms R (now 9.5!) has loved working on these. We had grand plans to thread beads or sequins into the trees as we went, but the needle (and yarn) are too thick for everything we tried.




Step 3: if you can't thread a few sparkles as you go, then stick on a few sequins if that's your taste.



Don't tell my rainbow-sparkle loving kid, but I quite like the simplicity of the plain yarn tree. :)



Now, let's talk about the reusable advent calendar. 


I've been having fun with advent calendars for Ms R since she was tiny. Her first couple of years, we wrapped holiday and winter-themed books for her open every night. Last year, her calendar was full of bath bombs and little soaps. Thing is: she's growing up. And I want some flexibility in what she gets every day! This year it will be a mix of chocolates, activities, IOU/coupons (for things like back scratches) and scavenger-hunt instructions! 



Here's what you need:


  1. A wreath form or hoop (this is a particle-board form that I bought years ago to make a mobile)
  2. Your trusty ball of yarn
  3. Short tacks
  4. 24 little gift bags 
  5. A set of numbers 1-24... or come up with your own way of numbering the bags
  6. Goodies to put in the bags. 



Step 1: Figure out how you're going to number your bags. I found these little metal numbers at Michaels.



Step 2: fill 'em up!




Step 3: Make the wreath. Wrapping the form in yarn is takes more time than you might think. But it's pretty satisfying, especially when the yarn shifts color as you go! As you tie-off the yarn, make a little loop to hang it.

Step 4: Tap in 24 little tacks.



Last step: decorate it, hang it and add all the little bags!



If you have any fun ideas for zero-waste, experience-oriented fillers for my little bags, please let me know in the comments!




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