The magic of an Advent calendar

The magic of an Advent calendarSince the mid-1800s, people have heralded the arrival of Christmas by tracing the days of Advent with a calendar. The first Advent calendars were primitive affairs: 19th century German Protestant Christians would mark their front doors 24 times with a piece of chalk. As each day went by, a mark would be rubbed off. Modern-day calendars first emerged in the 1900s, with Munich printers Reichhold & Lang being the first company to mass produce them. However, it was not until the end of the Second World War that Advent calendars became widely popular, particularly in America. 

Today the magic of Advent calendars is kept alive in more ways than ever. They could be artistic spectacles, gourmet treats or interactive creations. These are just a few original approaches to continuing the Advent calendar tradition.

Photo calendar 

This style of Advent calendar makes a charming Christmas decoration, as well as an artistic way of marking the passing days. Creating a photo calendar is simple: For each date, two tags are fastened together by a clip, and then strung along a ribbon or length of twine. The top-facing tag is labelled with the date in a festive font and the tag underneath displays a photo. This could be of cherished family moments or seasonal imagery. The upper tag is removed on the relevant date, slowly revealing the photos beneath.

Chalkboard calendar 

These calendars have a rustic simplicity to them, making them ideal for more traditional homes. They are also versatile, as you can choose a board of any size to have painted and embellished to your tastes. Once the board is covered with chalkboard paint, the dates are marked using chalk. Containers, such as small brown paper bags, holding a little present can then be suspended across the board above each date.

Envelope calendar 

These are straightforward to make and look beautifully refined, as well as evoking that necessary sense of excitement. You could use envelopes that you have already, or purchase bespoke ones from a luxury stationer. These can then be glued to a strong piece of card or hung on string using miniature craft pegs. Once attached, you can fill them with lightweight gifts, such as festive chocolates.

Minimalist advent calendar 

A minimalist Advent calendar will complement the neutral interiors and clean lines of contemporary homes. A simple yet effective design can be made by attaching 24 small cardboard craft boxes to a linen-covered pin board and labelling them using white parchment. As the boxes are sturdy and a little more spacious than flatter options, they will give you greater flexibility over what kind of treats to put inside.

Ginvent calendar 

This is an unusual, upmarket Advent calendar alternative for adults. 24 gin samples lie beneath the 24 windows, giving the recipient the chance to try a wide variety without committing to a full bottle. These can contain well-known gins, as well as those that are more difficult to find.

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