The best part of December is waking up to a tiny decorative chocolate behind a little cardboard door every morning.  What could be sweeter? Making one yourself, that’s what! If your crew does the secret Santa thing, shake up your traditions and make advent calendars for each other! Your pal will get a personalized greeting and treat every day of the month! It’s a lot easier than secretively hacking into their locker or car and planting a chocolate bar with a note “from your secret Santa”. Here are 6 unconventional DIY advent calendars.

Chinese take-out box advent calendar
You can find mini Chinese takeout boxes from the bulk barn, or most craft supply stores or party supply stores. Get a piece of rope or string about 5 feet long and loop 24 pieces of ribbon around it, tying each ribbon around the handle of each box. (Tie the ribbon to the rope if you don’t want the boxes to slide into each other.) Paint or cover each of the takeout boxes with wrapping paper, numbering each box. The rope can hang from a mantel or headboard of a bed. Your treats could include: Mini chocolate bars, fortune cookies, finger puppets, or those little trinkets from quarter machines, or “friend coupons”, favourite quotes, song lyrics, jokes, etc. 

Matchbox chest of drawers advent calendar
This calendar is like a mini chest of drawers. Remove the matches from 24 matchboxes and glue them to each other in stacks of eight. Cut a strip of decorative paper to wrap around the sides and glue in place. Number each drawer from 1 – 24, and glue a tab of ribbon to the underside so they can use it to pull the drawer out. On the other side of the “chest”, draw or paint a picture of a Christmas tree or any other festive masterpiece you feel confident about. Let it dry. Now, cover your design by gluing a piece of construction paper or cardboard to the edges of the chest. As your friend takes out one drawer each day, they’ll turn it around and the picture you drew on the back will be gradually revealed. 

Hanging matchbox advent calendar
Start with a rope about 5 feet long, just like the take-out box calendar. Cover 24 matchboxes in funky paper and number each on the front. Stand each matchbox up length wise and punch a hole in the top. Loop a piece of ribbon around the rope and knot it inside the box so it allows you to slide the box and out of its case as it hangs, revealing an awesome surprise for each day.

Keepsake box advent calendar
This one can look really cool hanging on a wall. Get 24 different shapes of wooden jewellery boxes from a craft supply or dollar store, the cheap, thin ones that are meant to be painted. Paint or decorate each one and draw the numbers on each of the lids. Next, grab a blank canvas big enough to fit these guys all on, how big you want it to be is up to you. Arrange the boxes in an artsy arrangement on the canvas and glue the bottoms down. As the lids are lifted off, your petit gift tumbles out.

Tubular wreath advent calendar
Cut a wreath shape out of a piece of cardboard. (To get the circle perfect, tie a piece of string to a pencil and stick it in the middle so it’s even all around.) To make 24 little cubbies, cut 24 segments from cardboard tubes of various sizes (paper towel rolls, Pringles tubes, coffee canisters, etc. They’ll just have to have a flat bottom so you can glue them to your wreath base.) Cover the sides of the tubes in colourful construction paper or tin foil. Arrange them so they vary in size and shape all around the wreath, and glue them down. Set a small wrapped trinket in each cubby, and number each one 1 – 24.  

Forest of mystery advent calendar
Make 24 cones out of different shades of green construction paper. Remember making paper cones in elementary school? In case you were blacked out on bourbon in grade 4, here’s a template. Cut out some small paper circles to write the numbers on, and stick to the cones. The tree for the 24th needs a star on top, of course. Now, slip your treat under each cone and stand in a forest arrangement on a tray. This one isn’t for the easily tempted: since the cones aren’t stuck down, the treats are easily uncovered.   

Photo credite z_aurelie and methyl_lives via Flickr