This is one of those projects that was born of necessity. We had this cute little nativity advent calendar that we love, but the container was always causing problems. The container is cardboard and it has little doors that are supposed to open but always get stuck and pinch the kids’ little fingers. It’s also a box that’s supposed to stand up but no matter how many times we tried, it always fell over. But we love the little cardboard nativity figures inside. So I wanted to find another home for them. And this is where we landed: How to make a DIY nativity advent calendar.
I’ve always had these grandiose dreams of making my own nativity scene, but I think those are gonna have to wait. Besides, these little cardboard 3-d puzzles are so sweet, and the kids love putting them together each day. If the nativity isn’t your thing, you can always combine this with our kindness advent calendar, and just tuck the cards into the pockets on this calendar. It works perfectly! But if you like these little cardboard figures, snag the nativity figures here and follow along on the tutorial below!
How to Make a DIY Nativity Advent Calendar
- Nativity figures or Printable Kindness Cards
- Printable advent numbers
- flat wood trim
- cotton rope or yarn
- glue gun
Make Time: 2 Hours
Step 1: Cut the backing piece for your advent calendar. This should be 17″ wide and 24″ tall. I doubled up my backing and used fabric glue to glue two pieces together because my felt was a little thin. You can skip this step if you are happy with the thickness of your felt. On one end, make a light pencil mark at the halfway point of the short side. Then measure up 5″ on both long sides and make a mark at each point. Cut from each of these points to the halfway point on the short side to create a pointed, flag-like bottom for your backing.
Step 2: Cut out 24 squares of felt, each 3″ x 3″. You can use all one color or mix them up like we did.
Step 3: Using the instructions on the packaging, apply HeatnBond to one side of the felt that you’d like for your numbers. Download and print our number file right here, print and cut numbers 1-0, and trace numbers 1-24 onto the HeatnBond, being sure to trace them backwards. You’ll get the cleanest felt if you trace the numbers backward onto the wrong side of your felt. This way you won’t have any pen marks on the front side of your felt after cutting. Then cut these out with your scissors.
Step 4: Place the numbers, HeatnBond side down, onto each square once you have decided the order of the colors you’d like. Iron the numbers onto the felt squares.
Step 5: Glue your squares onto the felt backing piece using hot glue. Starting about 2″ from the top of the backing (the top is the short side that you did not cut into a point), spread five squares evenly across the width of the backing. Glue each of these down on both sides and the bottom, but leave the top of each square unglued so that you can insert the nativity pieces. Repeat this process for four rows. You should have four squares left; center these on the bottom row.
Step 6: Use hot glue to glue the wood trim to the backing. We used a piece in the front and a piece in the back, then tied a knot on either end of our rope and sandwiched the rope between the two pieces of wood, with a knot at the bottom to secure it.
Now just stuff each pocket with either a piece from the nativity or a card from our kindness calendar and you’re ready for Advent! We actually do both calendars each day of Advent (a tradition we started last year), and the kids love it. They take turns pulling out the card or the figurine. I’m so looking forward to doing these again this year. Happy making! xoxo