Monday, July 28, 2008

At Long Last... Advent Calendar Tutorial (and Blog Candy Winner!)

Okay, I promised and promised, and now I'm finally going to share the tutorial for this advent calendar. Not that it really needs a tutorial (it's quite easy), but I thought I'd share some tips I figured out along the way.

Let's start with supplies. Here's what you'll need:

-a cookie sheet (old or new)
-2" metal tins (I get mine from -- as far as I know, this is the cheapest place on the web to find them -- though they have raised their prices considerably since the last time I ordered from them!)
-strong magnets (the stronger, the more stuff you can put in the tins!)
-hot glue gun and glue
-sandpaper (optional but strongly recommended)
-spray paint
-spray paint metal primer (optional but strongly recommended)
-spray clear coat (varnish) (optional)
-assorted decorative papers
-assorted embellishments for the tins
-binder clip
-adhesive (I use the 3M tape gun)
-spray adhesive -- a must if you are going to use the clear coat varnish
-round punch (mine is 1 3/4")

And here's how you put it all together:

1. Punch circles out of various decorative papers with your circle punch. Adhesive the back of the circles and stick them to the front of the tins like so:

2. Since you will be able to see the adhesive through the clear glass window of the tin, do the same thing to the inside of the tin, making sure to line up the inside circle with the outside circle you just placed:

3. Once that's completed, you're ready to attach your magnets. I use the strongest magnets I can find, so I don't have to worry about how heavy the items I'm placing in the tins are. The ones I use are thick and 1/2" circles. Puddle a large dot of hot melt glue on the center back of your tin, and sink your magnet into it, letting the glue seep around the sides of the magnet to make sure it's really stuck on there:

A bunch of tins all completed:

5. Decorate your tins as desired (I haven't gotten that far yet with this one.). I like to find different ways to write the numbers, so all the tins look different. For instance, I might attach a small dice turned to the three dots side for the 3rd or use 9 rhinestones to make the shape of a "9," etc. This is where you really get to get creative!!!

Now you're ready to start on your cookie sheet base.

1. Make sure the sheet you choose is magnetic. This may seem obvious, but one of the reasons this tutorial was so delayed was that I didn't think about this and painted a non-magnetic sheet! Grrrrr! So make sure to check before you start.

2. If you are using an old (used) cookie sheet, I highly recommend spraying it with oven cleaner or a really really good degreaser and cleaning it well before continuing. If you are using a pan coated with teflon or any other non-stick surface, I HIGHLY recommend sanding the sheet really well before painting it. It will make sure all your paint will stick and not flake off. I use a corner cat to do this -- it makes the job really easy.

3. Prime your cookie sheet with a good metal primer. You can skip this step if you want, but again, the primer will only help your paint stick better and ensure that the advent calendar will look great for years:

3a. Try not to laugh at your hubby when he asks you why the grass is white. ;)

4. Once your primer is dry, spray paint your cookie sheet with your desired color, using a good quality paint meant for metal:

5. Decorate your cookie sheet as desired. In case you've been hiding under a rock, I will mention that I'm fond of the torn paper look. I try to keep the background of the sheet pretty simple, since there will be a bunch of tins on top of it, anyhow. If you are planning on clear coating the sheet (in the next step), you will want to use a spray glue or other adhesive that coats the entire back of the paper, rather than a tape gun or glue dots. If you don't, the paper will bubble or will become slightly transparent where the tape gun tape is dispensed.:

6. Spray your sheet with a clear protector coat (varnish). Again, you can skip this, but it will prevent your paper from coming un-stuck from the metal and will help the paint to not chip, too.

7. If you are planning on adding a rub-on, like I did, do this AFTER you clear coat the sheet. Otherwise, the clear coat will wrinkle and bubble the rub-on:

8. To hang, I either drill through the sheet with a strong drill and attach ribbon or I do what I did on this sheet, which is much easier: attach a binder clip that you doll up with a little paper and ribbon. The perfect hanger!

Here it is all put together (not finished yet, but I will share the final product when it is!):

If you make one of these, please comment me and show me it!!! :)

Ok, now let's see who won the BLOG CANDY!!! :)

The winner is.....

GAIL S.!!!

Gail said:
Let's seeeeeeee my favorite thing about winter is Christmas!! I am like a little kid. I decorate, shop and bake. Love Christmas. Your blog candy looks like so much fun! Thanks for sharing.

Well, Gail, I hope this candy helps you to celebrate Christmas a little more! :) You didn't leave me a way to contact you, so please make sure you get in touch with me by Wednesday! :)

Thanks to everyone who played! I'll hopefully be back tomorrow with something new (or at least pictures of the completed calendar). Hubby is out of town again, so that means some ME TIME! :)

Until then...


Liz - Whimsy Floral said...

You rock. No--Seriously. I can not believe how talented you are. I'm going to have to make me one of those this year...okay, I probably won't, but I'll wish I would have come December. :) Think of the fun Jonah would have!

Cindy said...

Great tutorial. YAy Gail... good for you!

Elizabeth said...

This is great! I want to feature it on my crafts blog. Nice work.

Gail S. said...

What a suprise to see my name as the winner! Can't wait to see it in person!! Thanks again. Also, I love the music on your blog....makes me want winter to get here hehehe! Gail S.

Kathryn said...

Oh this is toooo cute!
I think I'll have to try to make one for my kiddos.

TFS!! :)

Alison said...

This is a very cool project. You might look at Lee Valley ( for the little containers, I just looked online and their price is about a dollar cheaper for a package of 12. They are called "watchmakers cases" in their catalog

noricum said...

For the tins, you might try Lee Valley:,104,53208&ap=2

jkc said...

This is SO CUTE. I'm really excited that I found your tutorial now. I'm planning on making several to give as Christmas gifts!

Dawn said...

I just found your blog & *had* to comment on this! It's sooooo fabulous!!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

I lived in Germany for about 7 years when I was younger and we always had an Advent calendar... it used to be next to impossible to find one when we moved back to the states... =) This will definitely make it easier to keep up with that tradition!

bella said...

So happy I found your site. My daughter is going to make one of these next month and I won't be able to attend the class with her. Perhaps I can make one and send her a pic of my accomplishment! Thanks for the detailed instructions!

LollyChops said...

I see someone already recommended Lee Valley. They have terrific stuff!

Thanks for this great tut!

Britt- Sparkled Vintage Charm said...

soo fabulous!! thanks!! I hope you have a great day!! hugs!! Britt :-)

Anna said...

you are so talented! come check out my blog! I am new, and dont have many people visiting!

liz said...

i love that you spray painted the cookie sheet. thanks for the tutorial!

Amanda said...

I am writing to request permission to reprint this adorable project on We would of course give you full credit and will happily link back to your blog. Please let me know if this is acceptable. Thanks!

Amanda Formaro
Chief Editor -

Julia @AllFreeChristmasCrafts said...

Hi Kathy,

This project is adorable! We'd love to link to it on our site,! If this is something you'd be interested in, feel free to contact me at jlitz (at) primecp (dot) com. Thanks and once again, love the project!


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