December is my favourite time of year – nights out become cosy nights in, you can warm up with hot chocolates, spiced coffees and mulled wines, wander around German markets, there are twinkling lights in every street, you can finally pull on big knitted jumpers, woolly tights and wrap up in your favourite jacket and boots, and homes become even cosier and lovelier, with scented candles, lit up Christmas trees, snug throws and blankets, and if you’re lucky even a crackling open fire.
But one of the best parts (for me at least) is the count down to Christmas; collecting presents for every family member, making Christmas and New Years Eve plans, and – of course – advent calendars! This year I wanted to do something a bit special for the Mr and make one myself. Originally I was hoping that envelopes pinned to a big board (or even socks or little sacks pinned to a notice board type thing) would have been big enough to hold small presents, but it makes the present selection fairly limited (there’s only so many chocolates, sweets or Molton Brown miniatures you can give), plus the envelopes weren’t quite big enough.
So instead I put together 24 envelopes, each one with a treasure hunt clue to where a present is hidden. The handy thing about doing it this way is that you can pretty much make it up as you go along, so if you haven’t got 24 clues or 24 presents yet, you can still slip clues into the envelopes and you’ve still got plenty of time to find a gift, wrap it and hide it in the right place each morning!
I’ve written out 24 clues but only decide which one is going in the next envelope the day before, depending on the size of the gift, then I go and hide the gift in the right place. Gifts include ‘small’ things like new phone chargers (we’re always losing them), large matches for in the loo, a funny wine stopper (‘Coq au vin’ rubber chicken), chocolate letters (a Dutch thing – you can get them from HEMA) and socks, to larger presents like a new set of wine glasses, a new pair of slippers, and a knife that was beautifully hand carved on a recent trip to Bali.
The clues (so far) :
- The more I dry, the wetter I become (the present was hidden under the towels in the bathroom)
- I am soft in every bit, and a spot where you like to sit. What am I? (present hidden in the sofa)
- What has a tongue that can’t taste, eyes that can’t see and a sole that will never die? (present hidden inside one of his shoes)
- I have 4 legs and a head but can’t walk – what am I ? (present hidden in the bed)
- I grow bigger when I eat, but weaker when I drink (present hidden near the fireplace)
- What’s always running but has no legs? (present hidden inside the fridge)
- What goes up and down but never moves? (present on the stairs)
- In the winter when you’re cold you come be me to warm your toes. What am I? (present hidden near a radiator)
- They sip it in England and Ice it in the US (present hidden in the tea tin)
- I have a big mouth and am quite loud. I’m not gossip, but I get involved in everyone’s dirty business. What am I? (present hidden inside the washing machine)
- I can show you the world with out moving. (present hidden under the television)
- This box is mostly filled with things that rarely bring you glee, Like bills, and junk, and other stuff you’d rather never see. (present in the letter box / by the post)
- This room is for the guests to sleep when staying for the night. Let’s hope the bed is comfortable and sheets are clean and white. (present in the guest room)
It’s such a fun way to start the day!
How to make it
To make the advent calendar, I used an old mirror, some wrapping paper, double sided sticky tape, string, and little pegs to peg the envelopes to the string (I got these numbered pegs from Tiger for £1). An easier way to do it would be if you already have a large notice board or something which you can peg envelopes to!
I turned the mirror around and used double sided sticky tape so stick wrapping paper over it, then covered any bare bits with ribbon (also stuck down with double sided tape).
Next I marked with a pen where each row should be; six rows in total, with four envelopes along each row, for 24 envelopes. In my case I had 18 cm between each row.
Then I stuck down the string for each row by tie-ing the string tightly around the mirror and knotting it at the back, then sticking down the string onto the back with strong sellotape, and securing it in place at the front with the translucent double sided tape.
I repeated this until I had all six rows, evenly spread out!
Then I just added the pegs and the envelopes (which I left open but turned the other way), ready to be filled with clues.
I can’t wait to do it again next year!