{Photographs by Sally J Shim}

One of the boys' favorite things about the holidays is our advent calendar. Our 2010 advent calendar is currently boxed up as we prepare for our upcoming move and since we will be in many different places this month I decided to make a portable advent calendar this year. 

I was originally working on a drawstring with painted numbers advent calendar but it wasn't turning out how I wanted it to so I decided to go with something super simple. This advent calendar was easy to make and only requires a few supplies. Although I placed the envelopes on a linen pin board I plan to take them down once we move and place them inside a linen drawstring bag. We'll be staying in a hotel in between our move from Portland and Busan so I will adhere the envelopes on the hotel wall with some washi tape. And then once we arrive at our home in Busan I will hang them up on a wall in our living room.

For last year's advent calendar I printed out activities on to little cards and included a piece of candy or small goody. This year I decided to list activities or write little messages to the boys since they will be receiving a lot of little goodies for the plane ride to Korea as well as for Christmas. It is sweet to see how excited the boys are to wake up each day to peek at the advent calendar activity or message for that day. Day One was Hot Chocolate with Peppermint Sticks, Day Two was Make Ice Cream Sundaes for Dessert and Day Three was Watch A Christmas Movie with Popcorn and Apple Cider. The purpose of the Advent Calendar for our family is to spend time with one another and it really does help us to do this even in the midst of all the busy-ness that surrounds the holidays.


1. Mini kraft envelopes (I bought these from Muji.)

2. White cardstock

3. Scissors or paper cutter

4. Optional: White sticker paper 


1. Seal the envelope. Trim 0.25" off one end of the envelope to create a paper pocket.

2. Cut cardstock down to appropriate size so the card will easily slide in and out of the paper pocket. The cardstock should peek out of the pocket approximately 3/4".

3. Print or write "ONE", "TWO", "THREE", etc. on the short edge of the cards.

4. Print or write an activity or message on to the cardstock. Another option is to print an activity or message on to white sticker paper and cut down to the appropriate size. I chose option #2 because I wanted the flexibility to decide the night before what activity to do the next day. I am able to just peel off the sticker and place it on to the card.

5. Place numbered cards into the paper pockets.

6. Pin or tape the paper pockets on to a linen pin board or wall.

7. Variations: Print or paint numbers on to the paper pockets. Put number stickers (available at your local office supply store) on to the paper pockets. Punch a hole at the edge of the card (on the part peeking out of the paper pocket) and tie a ribbon through the hole. 

Reader Comments (4)

I just wanted to say thank you for your inspiring ideas! Amidst the most busy time of the year and an international move, you have managed to keep your focus on what matters most. You have inspired me, next year our family's advent calendar will have no "stuff" in it, just time together or activities to serve others. Thanks again and best wishes with your move!

12.5.2011 | Unregistered Commenterann

I like the idea of having the numbers in words! I also jus made a move (only 20 minutes from our old home) and am just getting around to an advent calendar today. Thank you for more inspiration. Good luck with the move + new home!

12.5.2011 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia Bravo!

this is super cute sally. i wish my parents did this for me as a kid. what a great way to bring family together.

12.5.2011 | Unregistered Commenterlinda

ANN // Thanks for the kind words, Ann! :)

CLAUDIA BRAVO! // Thank you, Claudia!

LINDA // Thanks, Linda!

12.6.2011 | Unregistered CommenterSALLYJSHIM

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