The holiday season can be a busy, stressful time. But for most, it is something to look forward to, a time for gathering, gratitude, and celebration. For children and adults alike, an Advent calendar can start the anticipatory countdown to the arrival of Christmas morning. When my children were young, our family chose to surprise a neighbor with a small gift in their mailbox every day the week of Christmas. It can be a simple card, a small gift, even a piece of a Nativity each day. My mother still talks about nuts and candies that she received only at Christmas (in leaner years it was a “hard candy Christmas”).
In place of a purchased one, a natural Advent calendar can be a beautiful, more sustainable alternative. Materials can be simple, and the process of foraging can be part of the tradition. When we downsized to a smaller home, natural Christmas decorations became our alternative. We have little storage, and the natural elements can be composted in the garden, placed in the forest for animals and insects, or burned in our wood stove as an aromatic fire starter.
- Small timber saw or pruners
- Medium-sized branch, sturdy enough to hold bagged treats (measure to fit the space it will be hung in)
- Natural twine
- Small brown paper bags or kraft envelopes
- Hole punch
- Pen/marker to number the bags
- Craft scissors
- Small candies, toys, or treats to place in the bags
- Ribbon/dried flowers/pine cones as optional decor
How To Make A Simple And Natural Advent Calendar
- Cut a foraged branch to the desired length using pruners or a saw. (Leave greenery if desired.)
- Sand the cut end of the branch if needed.
- Count and number the countdown bags or envelopes with a marker or calligraphy pen. Note: you can use small gift tags or write on the bag itself. (This is an excellent time to include children!)
- Fill the bags with small treats, such as candy, nuts, cookies, and small toys.
- Fold each bag at the top or press ends together and use the hole punch to punch one hole through both layers of the bag.
- Use a piece of twine to loop through the bag and tie around the branch, numbering the bags in order.
- Hang the branch calendar using small thumbtacks, nails, or adhesive hooks.
- Beginning December 1st, remove one bag each day and enjoy the small gifts counting down until Christmas Day!
Note: Always avoid hanging fresh greenery near an open flame, wood stove, or fireplace. The greenery can dry out quickly and be a fire hazard. Learn how to sustainably forage plants.