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DIY Advent Calendar That Makes a Statement

I wanted a DIY advent calendar that would make a huge statement, so I made this one using a big canvas. Kids will love this for Christmas!

Big Box DIY Advent Calendar on Canvas

I’m so thrilled to share this DIY advent calendar with you today! I recently got a passel of paper mache boxes from AC Moore.

I don’t use paper mache that much, and now I’m wondering why because it paints and decoupages wonderfully.

Anyhoo, I laid my boxes out on a table, thinking about what to do with them – then it came to me. DIY advent calendar!

Sometimes crafty ideas just land in your brain, and that’s exactly what happened. I can honestly say that this is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done.

Read on to see how I decoupaged it and view more pictures. I’m getting caught up in the holiday magic, what can I say?

Make an Advent Calendar

Gather These Supplies

  • Large canvas – 30″ x 40″
  • Paper mache boxes – 25 in various sizes, mine are from AC Moore.  They come in some great sets!
  • Mod Podge Gloss
  • FolkArt Acrylic Paint – Asphaltum, Grass Green, Pink, Red Velvet, Yellow Citron
  • Christmas themed scrapbook paper, enough to cover all of your boxes
  • Cardstock in coordinating colors
  • Die cutting machine (to cut your numbers, or buy the numbers pre-cut/as stickers)
  • Prima poinsettias
  • Wood or chipboard circles – various sizes
  • Rhinestones – red and brown
  • Buttons – pink and brown
  • Paintbrushes – multiple sizes
  • Craft glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Craft knife and mat
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Mini sticky notes (optional)
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First of all, you have a big canvas to cover! What I suggest is to take your FolkArt paint (I used Yellow Citron) and create a wash. To do this, pour some paint into a bowl and add water until it’s soupy.

Paint the entire canvas with several coats. If you do this, you’ll only have to use two bottles of paint rather than ten. Allow the canvas to dry.

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Lay your canvas onto a table and spread out your 25 boxes. At this point you need to decide the layout and then take a picture of it so that you can remember where each box goes.

Let me tell you that I almost fell off a mini-ladder taking this photograph. Please photograph your DIY advent calendar boxes at your own risk.

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Lay out your papers on top of the boxes, cutting small pieces for the smaller boxes. Arrange the papers so that no two that are alike are right next to each other.

I would estimate that I used about 12 sheets of scrapbook paper – remember that the smaller boxes only use small pieces, so you can use scraps for those.

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This next step takes some time, so settle in with your favorite Christmas movie. For each piece of paper, lay the corresponding lid down onto the back side and trace with a pencil. Do one lid at a time.

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Use your ruler and craft knife to cut each sheet of paper to fit the lid. Work through all 25 boxes and then clean up your big paper mess.

Or if you are like me, don’t clean up until paper is everywhere and it takes twice as long to clean up.

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Decide what color you are going to paint each box. This is where the mini sticky notes come in handy.

I wrote down the color for each box on a sticky note, placed it on top and then checked to make sure I didn’t have all the pink boxes right next to each other. I made a few adjustments on color choices after I laid the whole thing out.

Once you’ve made your decisions, paint the boxes. You don’t have to paint the entire tops of the lids, but you should paint the inside so that it’s pretty when you open it.

I’m watching you. I will know if you don’t do it! 

Paint all of the boxes and allow to dry.

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Decoupage the papers down to the tops of the boxes. Work one box at a time. Spread a medium layer of Mod Podge on the top of the box and then smooth down the paper thoroughly.

A brayer helps a lot in this situation. Wipe away any Mod Podge that comes out the sides of the paper with your brush. Allow to dry for 15 – 20 minutes.

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Mod Podge the lids of ALL of the boxes on top of the paper, then decoupage the boxes themselves. I wouldn’t Mod Podge the insides, because it’s really not necessary.

I wanted to show you this close up of the fun Making Memories Noel paper on box #25 – isn’t it awesome? Your DIY advent calendar is getting closer!

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Paint your wood or chipboard circles with your coordinating paint colors.

Why did I add circles?

It gives the boxes some interest and texture, and also provided a place to put the numbers on some of the boxes with busier patterns. Allow your circles to dry and then Mod Podge them.

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Use your craft glue to add ribbon to some of the boxes. Again, you are adding interest. Not all of the boxes need ribbon, just some of them. I added ribbon across the tops of a few lids as well. Allow the ribbon to dry.

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I had a BLAST with this part. I used a die cutting machine to cut out the numbers for my boxes . . . in various sizes! I love using the die cutter – it’s just fun.

Tip: If you don’t have a fancy machine, use clip art to cut out the numbers or buy them as stickers in the scrapbook section of the craft store.

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Place a bit of Mod Podge on the center of each box (or wherever you are placing the numbers) and lay the numbers down. Mod Podge over the top and allow to dry.

You can get creative with your placement. As you can see, I didn’t put everything in the center.

You are about to get serious with some hot glue. I used several large sticks gluing all of the boxes down.

If you have a hard time remembering where the boxes go, remember that you took a photo at the very beginning of this project, so that should help.

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Some of the boxes deserve some floral embellishments. That’s where the craft glue and Prima flowers come in. The little container I bought also had some leaves – perfect.

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Add rhinestones and buttons where desired with your craft glue and let the entire calendar dry.

I wanted a DIY advent calendar that was going to make a huge statement, so I made this one using big boxes, a canvas, and my favorite holiday papers.

You can really have fun with where you put this advent calendar, and with all of the things you can put in it.

That’s why some of the boxes are big and some are small. Candy can go into the smaller boxes and fun gift items into the larger boxes. #25 is the biggest box for that reason!

I wanted a DIY advent calendar that was going to make a huge statement, so I made this one using big boxes, a canvas, and my favorite holiday papers.

Advent Calendar

Yield: 1 calendar
Prep Time: 1 hour
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $25

Learn how to make an advent calendar with a canvas and paper mache boxes! You can customize to any size you like.

Materials

  • Large canvas – 30″ x 40″
  • Paper mache boxes – 25 in various sizes, mine are from AC Moore. They come in some great sets!
  • Mod Podge Gloss
  • Acrylic paint - coordinating
  • Christmas themed scrapbook paper, enough to cover all of your boxes
  • Cardstock in coordinating colors
  • Die cutting machine or adhesive numbers
  • Embellishments - poinsettias, rhinestones, buttons, wood circles
  • Craft glue
  • Mini sticky notes (optional)

Tools

  • Paintbrushes – multiple sizes
  • Hot glue gun
  • Craft knife and mat
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Instructions

  1. Paint the canvas with several coats of paint until fully covered. Let dry.
  2. Lay the canvas on a table and spread out the 25 boxes. Decide the layout and then take a picture with your cell phone so that you can remember where each box goes.
  3. Choose your scrapbook papers and cut to fit the lids of the boxes using the craft knife and ruler. Set aside.
  4. Paint the boxes with a variety of acrylic paint colors and let dry.
  5. Decoupage the papers down to the tops of the boxes. Work one box at a time. Spread a medium layer of Mod Podge on the top of the box and then smooth down the paper thoroughly.
  6. Add embellishments with craft glue, including ribbons around the edges.
  7. Add adhesive numbers 1 - 25 on the boxes OR use a die cut machine and Mod Podge the numbers down.
  8. Let the boxes completely dry, then glue down to the canvas. Let the canvas dry completely before using.

Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

Would you like to see a few more shots? Here’s a detail shot of my DIY advent calendar and then me finding a surprise in box #14. Happy Holidays!

I wanted a DIY advent calendar that was going to make a huge statement, so I made this one using big boxes, a canvas, and my favorite holiday papers.
I wanted a DIY advent calendar that was going to make a huge statement, so I made this one using big boxes, a canvas, and my favorite holiday papers.
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Sue Schneider

Thursday 29th of November 2012

Is there a way to subscribe to your blog by mail?

annadicus

Sunday 8th of January 2012

This is so wonderful! I would love to do something like this one day!Bucket list!! :)Thank you for sharing! -Anna

shinelikeglitter.blogspot.com

Two Shades of Pink

Friday 2nd of December 2011

This is really genius...and what a perfect idea for a advent!!! This is truly inspired and I absolutely adore your crafty brain! Plus I love that I could use the tiny boxes I always save for that someday usefulness I hoard things for.

CSI girl

Tuesday 22nd of November 2011

I hope you will link this up to The cSI Project on Wednesday or Thursday. I know that it is from last year but inspiration never gets old, so link up. www.thecsiproject.com

ThanksDee

von Hand zu Hand

Friday 11th of November 2011

that's awsome. i want to have one!and i'm curious to know what surprises the boxes are hiding.

I linked to your tutorial on my blog - thanks for sharing!

doro K.

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