Recycle Bin Advent Calendar

Recycle Bin Advent Calendar
Recycle Bin Advent Calendar
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I'm going to show you how to make an advent calendar entirely from the recycle bin. Not only is it inexpensive, it's also green and even the kids can join in the fun.

What you need

2-3 brown paper grocery bags (one with handles if possible)
ad circulars/newspaper inserts (optional)


1. collect and peruse catalogs
Pull out images you think might be useful -- beyond the obvious holiday and winter scenes, look for areas of solid colors interesting backgrounds (most of my pockets are decorated collage-styls, even when it may look like a single image -- a person has to get creative to cover up ad copy. :)

2. find those ad circulars in your recycle bin
You will need numbers. Large numbers! Have to look in the ad inserts. Cut out all the numbers you think you'll need.

3. create the backing of the calendar
To make the backing, you need to open up a brown bag (the one with a handle if you have it) into a long strip. cut down the two narrow sides of the bag, veering out to the corners at the bottom (basically, just cut along the upside-down Y-shaped fold lines on the side panels). Flatten bag with "wrong"/printed side facing up. Roll the side flaps until they are hidden on the back of the bag and tape in place. You can choose to cut them off or simply fold & glue them to the back, but I found rolling them provides more structural support along the sides, allowing the advent calendar to hold more weight without bowing and bending. Cut a strip from another bag, roll it up, and tape it along the top edge of your calendar to create additional reinforcement there. If your bag has handles, you can remove the one from the bottom if you like.


4. cut dozens of pockets (two dozens, to be exact)
Next you need to cut out 24 pockets from the additional brown bags. I made my pockets 3" wide and 3.25" tall because that's what fit on the paper bag I had (8 rows of three), but you can adjust this as needed. I found triangular-shaped gussets on the sides of the pockets allowed larger items to sit comfortably inside -- to form these, I flared out at a 30 degree angle from the bottom corner of the pockets (see template -- you can eyeball this if your protractor isn't handy). Don't forget those flaps around each side which allow it to be glued in place. Cut out one pocket the way you like it, then trace and cut the rest. (I stacked & cut five layers of brown paper at once to speed this up.)

5. prefold the pockets
It will make your life easier if you prefold your pockets before decorating them. To do this, cut a piece of cardstock (magazine reply cards are perfect for this) the size of your finished pocket. Lay it in position over one of your pocket pieces, then fold against the card stock template. (this is much faster than tracing lines in place then carefully folding each one.) Fold up the gluing flaps, and finally fold each gusset into place behind the pocket (along the dotted line in my template).

6. decorate your pockets
Decorate the pockets with the pieces you tore out of the catalogs. Tip: find that piece of card stock you used to help you fold the pockets. Place it behind an image you plan to use and hold this up to the light. Position it where you like, then trace around the card stock and cut out the image for a fast way to get pieces just the right size. Add more images until you're happy.

7. number away...
Arrange the pockets on your calendar backing the way you like before adding numbers -- this way you can find an arrangement you're happy with. Add the cut-out numbers you found, or hand-draw numbers, or both.

8. glue and tape pockets in place
I found it worked to use tape for the sides of the pockets (where the tape could be hidden inside the pockets) but glue for the bottom edges (where tape would show).

9. fill and enjoy
Hang up your calendar by the handle (if it has one), and fill with whatever you like. If you're worried about a wee one sneaking ahead a bit, you can secure the filled pockets closed with decorative stickers or tape. or just hang it really high up on the wall.


About The Author

Kristy Anderson-Ewing blogs her craft projects over at Craftastica. This project was reprinted with permission.