DIY Tree Advent Calendar Made with Recycled Materials


Today’s DIY came about when I was helping my son clean up his room before he left for college.  For some reason he still had the box his desk came in leaning against a wall.  {I can’t imagine where he gets that from!}  There were some long, corner shaped pieces of cardboard in the box & I thought they might be useful, so I kept them.  {Okay, maybe I do know where he gets it from!}  I spotted them in the corner today & one thing lead to another {crafting wise}.  The next thing I know I had an advent calendar shaped like a tree!  Now I’m going to tell you how I did it & what I would do differently the next time.  On to the crafting!

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Cardboard Pieces

These cardboard L-shapes were in the box to protect the edges of the desk during shipping.

When I saw them I immediately thought the looked like a tree top.

I had this idea to make a tree with different levels, just as a decorative sign at first.  My cutting mat was perfect for marking and measuring 1″ & 2″ pieces.

I tried several different things for cutting these because they were fairly thick & dense cardboard.  My tin snips won the battle!

After I cut out what I thought was enough, I set about rearranging them in a tree shape of sorts…

That’s not really working for me…maybe more symmetrical…

I like that better & turning a few up at the bottom will give it a more tree like appearance.  That’s when it occurred to me that this would make a great advent calendar for Christmas!  I would definitely need more pieces & something to mount it to.  Good thing I like to keep things – just in case!  ; )

Making an Advent Calendar

I dug around in my little stash of wood bits & bobs & found a piece that was the perfect size.

It came from an old cheap shelf that didn’t want to stay together anymore, so I obliged & took it apart!  This is a laminate covered particle board, but I wanted to practice painting on that kind of surface anyway.  It will help me figure out how to paint my thrifted desk!

I sanded the surface with a fine grit sandpaper & gave it a coat of chalk paint in red.  The {faux} wood grain shows through, but I like the look!

Originally I was going to leave the cardboard pieces plain, but that’s just not my style!  I grabbed some Christmas-y paper from my scrapbook stash, permanent adhesive, & some gold metallic lustre.

I marked out the paper strip size by tracing around one side of the “L” & then rocking it over to trace the other side.  Everything is held in place with the permanent adhesive & the front edge is gilded in gold.

At this point I decided I didn’t like seeing the white undersides of the peaks, so I decided to paint them dark green.  This lead to a few messes & I really should have done this first!

Since this will be an advent calendar, it needs some numbers.  I didn’t have enough of one kind, so I decided to combine two different ones.  I also had to use some of the spaces leftover from the punch-outs to have enough numbers.

Time to glue things down using my favorite adhesive – e6000.  I also added some gold metallic lustre to the edges of the board, as well as brown wax.

Once I glued down a row of peaks, I glued down the numbers under the peaks.  This kept me from reaching inside the little boxes to do this!

This process took a little time & when I got to the end I had an empty box!  That didn’t seem right & when I looked back at my numbers I realized why.  I left out the 18th!  Boo!  Luckily the glue wasn’t dry & I was able to rearrange things.

All Finished

Well, here’s the finished advent calendar…

It turned out okay, but there’s definitely room for improvement…

The boxes are dark & it’s hard to see some of the numbers.  It would be better if I’d used 1 1/2″ instead of 2″ for the longer pieces.

I do like the way it looks from the side – like a little village!

I would also paint the interior before adding the paper – less mess!  There are 3 more “L” shapes left & I have enough materials to make 3 more of these.  Maybe I’ll sell them, what do y’all think?  : D

Hope y’all are having a wonderful Wednesday!

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  1. Skye B says:

    I really like this idea, especially the numbers and how the cardboard lengths are cut different. I also keep these but store them for when I need to move

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