On my to - do list for November is ‘Make advent calendar’ - some years (ok, most) I’m a bit close to the wire and still scrabbling around on 30 November but I’m trying to get ahead this year! I've been doing this for 15 years now, and I always manage it, but it is easier if you break it down into stages. This is how I do it:
Collect 24 smallish gifts (actually I do 25 just cos I always have since my daughter was tiny and I can’t get out of it now)
Type of gift depends on age of recipients of course and the kind of thing they like. I try to collect little bits as and when I find them throughout the year - cute washi tape, small toys, (things bought in packs are good so you can break them up and use across several days) rainbow pencils, mini highlighters, funny erasers, hair slides, wind-up toys, pencil tops, stickers, quirky postcards, badges, the sort of things you might get for children’s party bags ( I loved making those!)
Those cute individual Christmas chocolates are good too, the ones shaped like snowmen or rabbits or whatever- there are usually special offers on buying these so you can bring the cost down too.
The type of items included will change year to year of course, as your children* get older - my last year's effort included vegan nail varnish...
I have lots of bits and pieces in my shop that would be good for this, as I’m sure do lots of other independent makers, you can add a few bits to your basket as you #shopsmallbusiness .
*advent calendars are not only for children of course!
This is when being a bit of a hoarder pays off…
Now you have your 24 items, gather together : wrapping paper (I re-use all those bits of beautiful paper I couldn’t bear to throw away) ; tissue paper (from all those wonderfully packaged indie makers you’ve bought from this year; little paper bags from purchases in independent shops; and lots of string/ribbon/raffia/embroidery thread/wool- great opportunity to destash! Whatever you’ve got, whatever’s your style. I’m really into REUSE before RECYCLE.
Wrap the presents in various ways- if you have similar items, say a set of highlighters or badges, you can disguise them- so you can't guess what's coming next.
The paper bags are handy for odd shaped presents, and a bit of tissue paper will conceal most shapes- to foil the prodders and squeezers!
Decorate the wrapped presents as you like - use ribbon, cord, washi tape, string- whatever you have around - You could just wrap everything the same, but where’s the fun in that?
When you have wrapped your gifts, you need to label them.*
I like to use little price tags like these, which can be reused next year. These ones are drawn with fine liner pens, or watercolour paint, but you could stamp or collage them, whatever you feel like- you could also sub contract this bit to the kids! You could also cut out some shapes in card and punch a hole in them to make your own tags.
*little tip- try not to forget what is in the wrapped presents, so you don't have a run of several things the same! I try to space out the chocolate and start on a 'special' one, with another 'special' timed for the end of term. I have been known to forget what is what and swap labels around mid advent when I remember!
Step Five : the display
I use a wirework postcard holder that I got years ago - usually it holds postcards and brochures from whatever art exhibitions etc we have visited this year - I draped some mini battery powered fairy lights, and added bits and pieces, pompoms, christmas decorations etc. You could also use a pinboard, pegboard, or an old empty picture frame - stretch string across and peg the presents to it. Whatever you have to hand.
I attach the presents by a mixture of balancing (precarious) tiny little pegs and clips, and tying the ribbons around the frame. As the presents are claimed, replace with a Christmas decoration or Christmas card so that it doesn't look empty.
Jo Brown, Illustrator.
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