I have always loved advent calendars, as my mom made sure we had one every Christmas when I was growing up. There is just something about that little surprise when you open the window each day that delights me.
A few years back I saw and bought on a post-holiday sale a cute wooden stacked-book advent calendar. Each little box was numbered, and had a small door that opened to find a piece of candy. My neighbors had just adopted an infant boy, and I thought how fun it would be to make him something similar, but with toys. And good thing I thought about it when he was so young, as it took me three years to actually get around to making it!
To the right is a picture of my original inspiration:
It stands about 10 inches tall.... and the boxes are all sequentially numbered (no fun IMO, as I love hunting for the right date on an advent calendar!)
Here is a picture of my version, which stands about 17 inches tall, not including the little star I put on the top after this picture was taken. As it has rained very heavily the past few days, and I wanted to make sure my little friend got his calendar before December 1, I took it over yesterday afternoon when the rain lessened a bit, and finished at their house last evening. The finish involved the star, and also making little washi tape tabs for the doors.... I will explain later. This photo shows the calendar on top of the china cabinet, to keep someone's little fingers from temptation (he is three years old).
To make each box, I used Eileen Hull's square box die (Sizzix Bigz XL #658058) and adhered a variety of holiday scrapbook papers to my substrate on one side before cutting. I used Stick-It and when I ran out of that, some double-sided tape in 6 inch and 2 inch rolls .
For the substrate, I initially used some 8 x 11 medium chipboard that came with white paint on one side, which I used for the inside. However, after about 6 boxes, I switched to the much improved idea of Little Sizzles mat board in white, which is double sided and thinner - much better for the die, and easier all round! (The blades kept popping out on the die using the thicker chipboard, with the paper adhered with sticky stuff!) I really hope Sizzix keeps making these mat boards as they work perfectly with Eileen's and other structural steel rule dies!
Eileen's die comes with a lovely little finish piece, as the box is supposed to close on the outside. Here is a picture of her intention:
You can see those lovely brackets which go on the outside, and then she secures it with a ribbon. I intended to do this with magnets, but realized I had packed them all up; they are 2700 miles away in my other craft room in Idaho at the moment in some moving box or other, lol! After making a prototype, I realized I could probably get away with just tucking the lid into the box itself a bit, without the bracket pieces. For the most part, this worked - but as an added "securing feature" I added little washi tape tabs, since my recipient will have his box moved daily from the top of the china cabinet to the table for his daily opening. I was worried that all of this movement, and the toys inside (which are not secured down) would fling doors open willy-nilly and give away too much at once!
I also used double sided tape in 1/4 inch size to make the box - but if doing again in this size, I would take the time to hot glue. I ended up reinforcing several areas with the hot glue due to the weight of the boxes themselves, the surprising humidity this time of year, and the toys - all of which were plastic, but which do contribute overall to the weight. You can see the boxes warping slightly here, below..
The little "handles are actually some type of cupcake eraser I discovered at a chain bookstore while waiting in line (they are the weirdest "erasers" I have seen ever, as each little piece comes out to function as such).
They seemed perfect otherwise for my purpose, but I deconstructed them and glued them back together with matt medium so the little nose, berry, hat or whatever would not come off when my little friend pulled on them.
The numbers are commercial stickers. I also added some texture paste with Tim Holtz's Clear Rock Candy glitter as a snow accent.... not sure I would do this again either, as I had to be very careful about not blocking a door opening, and I don't think it adds much to the overall effect without being more consistent.
So I definitely will try this again, but perhaps in a smaller size, such as the smallest of Eileen's Block die cuts. I own this die but have not used it, so will have to figure out the door bit, as I believe these are truly blocks and not boxes!