Christmas Keepsake Advent Calendar Tutorial

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar


Christmas always gets my nesting instincts twitching and this year is no exception, so with a new baby and a lot of time on my hands (Granted mostly taken up with nappy changes and feedings) I wanted to make a special keepsake for Grumpy Baby and an advent calendar seemed like the perfect thing.

This tutorial will guide you through how to make your own keepsake advent calendar using easy to find materials.

To make the advent calendar you will need

  • A blank balsa wood advent calendar. These are easily purchasable online, mine was purchased from eBay
  • White mount board
  • White tissue paper
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic Gesso
  • Acrylic paints
  • Silver and gold markers
  • Small paper craft crystals
  • PVA glue
  • Super glue
  • Craft varnish
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting Board

How to make the Christmas keepsake advent calendar

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendarTo get started the first thing you will need to do is prepare the balsa wood for painting. For this you want to cover the whole thing with a layer of gesso (you could use white acrylic paint as a substitute).

Once the gesso has dried take each of the draws and mask a line around the sides so that when you paint the front of the draws you will get a nice sharp edge where the paint stops.

Paint the main body of the advent calendar (no need to paint the centre as this will be covered) and the front of the draws in your chosen colours. You should brush the paint on in the direction of the wood grain, you will need about 3 coats for a nice finish.

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar

Once the paint has dried use the silver and gold markers to hand draw ribbons or patterns and numbers onto the front of each draw.

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar

The scene in the middle of the calendar is the most difficult part of the calendar and can be done in one of two ways. If you are good at drawing and painting you can design your own illustration, otherwise you can find a picture you like and trace it. Whichever you choose the next steps will be the same.

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar

Measure out the central area of your calendar and cut a paper template to fit it completely. You will be building a 3D design so you will need to think carefully about which elements of your picture you would like to be in front of others then draw the layers out seperately and place them onto your template in the order they will appear (i.e. the layer that is furthest forward will be on the very top, in my design that is the gifts in each corner)

Once you’re happy with the layout take the top layer and stick it to the mount board with PVA glue, wait a few minutes for it to dry then cut the pieces out with a very sharp craft knife.

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar

Take the next layer and stick it to the mount board with PVA glue then place the layer you have already cut in place on top of it and stick down with super glue. Cut around the top layer of mount board and the paper layer and repeat for every subsequent layer until you get down to the paper template. You can cut as many or as few layers as you like.

Once your 3D picture has been cut tear some strips of tissue paper and paste them evenly across your design with watered down PVA. Ensure that you apply the tissue paper thinly enough that you can still see your illustration behind it, as this will make it easier to paint.

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar

Once the glue has dried, paint over your 3D picture and add paper craft crystals for some extra sparkle, before sticking your finished painting into the centre of the calendar with super glue.

To finish apply a coat of craft varnish to protect the calendar for years to come.

I hope you’ve found this tutorial informative. I’d love to see your keepsake advent calendars, so if you decide to have a go yourself please send me a photo of your finished creation!

How to make a keepsake Christmas advent calendar


Christmas is a magical time for children and you can make it even more magical with this tutorial on how to make a keepsake advent calendar



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