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How to Make a Recycled DIY Advent Calendar

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher, a freelance writer, and an avid recycler.

Make your own recycled advent calendar with this easy-to-follow tutorial.

Make your own recycled advent calendar with this easy-to-follow tutorial.

Make an Advent Calendar Using Cardboard and Toilet Rolls

Holidays are the time of year when trashcans overflow with loads of cardboard. Here's a way to reuse some of that packaging waste.

In This Article

  • Supplies
  • Steps 1-7 (With Photos)
  • History of the Advent Calendar

Supplies Needed

First, you'll collect bathroom tissue holders to make this advent calendar. You will need 12, or you can use six paper towel holders cut into fourths.

  • Cardboard
  • Colored gift tissue
  • Coding dots
  • Felt tip marker
  • Rubber bands
  • Hot glue and a glue gun
  • Pretty ribbon
  • Small gifts and candies
  • Spray paint
  • Xacto knife

Step 1: Cut the Rolls

Cut the toilet paper rolls in half with the Xacto knife. Then cut the paper towel rolls into fourths.


Step 2: Cut the Board

Measure and cut a piece of cardboard 15-by-20 inches.


Step 3: Glue the Rolls to the Board

Hot glue the paper tube halves to the board. Make sure they're evenly spaced and ragged-side down.


Step 4: Add Paint

The easiest way to paint this project is to spray paint outdoors and then touch it up with acrylic.


Step 5: Add Tissue and Dots

Cut circles five inches in diameter from colored gift tissue. Use white color coding dots for the numbers.

Scroll to Continue

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Step 6: Add a Ribbon Hanger

Slice the top corners of your advent calendar and thread a pretty ribbon hanger through.


Step 7: Hide and Cover Some Treasures

Hide tiny treasures for the loved one(s) in your life. I made mine for tween and teen girls with candies, miniature bottles of nail polish, etc. And, of course, money fits well. Jewelry, too! Cover each with a tissue circle and secure it with a rubber band.

Don't Forget: Put a pretty holiday sticker at the end for day 25.

History of the Advent Calendar

Perhaps our penchant for beginning the Christmas season so early has a deeper meaning than just higher retail sales. “Advent” is the Latin word for coming or coming forward. Early Christian practices are the basis for the Advent calendar of the 19th century.

Christians from centuries ago began to feel that honoring the Blessed Savior only one day a year was not enough. So they began to celebrate the coming of Christ early by praying and teaching the children about the Saviour.

Early Advent Calendars

Early Christians began marking their doors with the numeral one in chalk and continued the numbering through December 24th. From that time, the practice evolved into the advent calendar of today with little windows to open, revealing tiny treats behind them.

Then in the 19th century, a German mother made her son a calendar of the days with small treats stuck to the cardboard. Gerhard Lang never forgot the thrill of this first Advent calendar. As an adult, he went into business with a partner to open a printing press in 1908. Among other things, they published Advent calendars.


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2020:

The history of Advent calendars is fascinating. Your calendar made from recycled items is so clever and would make for a special gift.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 04, 2019:

Thanks for commenting, and Happy Holidays!

Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on December 04, 2019:

Great festive idea for recycling old loo roll tubes. Great idea! Looks excellent, and is easily personalised. Thanks for sharing with us.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 01, 2019:

Thanks, Denise. Good points!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 01, 2019:

I think this is a great idea in recycling as well as economically sound in making it personal for your family and not just buying a generic ready-made calendar.



Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 30, 2019:

Thanks,ps.Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 30, 2019:

How clever. It would be fun to get together with a group of friends a few months before Christmas to make one for each family. Thank you for sharing. Pinning to "Christmas fun and Stuff". Angels once again are headed your way ps