DIY Mason Jar Advent Calendar
Aaahhh, I sit at my kitchen table, Christmas music playing softly in the background, sipping hot coffee, while my children play quietly and peacefully in their room. It’s the Christmas season I always imagined with kids, before we had kids. Truth is though, this rare moment of peace is only because I spent 8 hours deep cleaning and purging their room so you could see the floor. Now they are most likely destroying it back to it’s “rightful order”
but it gives me a few minutes to hopefully get this is post up Lily just ran up and dumped Daniel Tiger in my coffee…
My toddler turned 3 in October, which means Christmas this year is going to be awesome. She shrieks for joy when spotting Christmas displays in stores and reminds me constantly that snow and Santa are on their way. What better way to count the days and fuel that anticipation than with an advent calendar? Since I’m a lover of mason jars and DIY crafts, it seemed like a no-brainer; why not make a reusable mason jar advent calendar? Once you make the frame, the options for decorating/personalizing the jar lids are endless! See the “How-to” below, but first….
DIY Mason Jar Advent Calendar
The perfect refillable advent calendar to use year after year!
- 2 5/8″ hole saw drill bit attachment
- Drill-Preferably a larger/heavy duty one with a handle (see Step 1 notes)
- Wood, approximately 28″X28″, any material you like. I used a scrap piece of inexpensive pressed plywood we had and the “textured” surface ended up having an awesome tree-like look to it when painted
- Jig saw or other method for cutting out tree shape
- Rough grit sandpaper-I used 60 grit
- (Optional) Wood trim for edges of tree: 2 pieces of about 28″length
- About 4-6 screws for attaching trim (or you can use a nail gun)
- Green paint (or any color you’d like the tree to be)
- Paint brush
- 1″diameter wooden dowel (approx 6″ length) or other object to use as a wall spacer.
- Screws to attach the above spacers. Length/size will vary depending on what you use for a spacer.
- Wallbiter hook or other wall hook for hanging your advent calendar.
- 24, 4oz mason jars with rings and lids (8 oz will also fit but keep in mind it will stand farther off the wall and may need to be hung differently)
- Craft supplies for decorating-stickers, paper, ribbon, old Christmas cards, magazine clippings, gems, glitter, the possibilities are endless!
- Glue-I used a combo of hot glue gun and E6000 glue. Elmers glue failed miserably for me here.
- Objects for filling mason jars (see ideas in the final step)
- Tissue paper for loosely wrapping objects in the jars (to keep those sneaky peakers out!)
Drilling the holes. The 2 5/8″ hole saw is vital for this. Try it a few times on a scrap piece of wood until you get the hang of it. It can be a bit intimidating at first because until the teeth fully grip into the wood, it will try to whip the drill out of your hands. This was more pronounced when using pressed plywood than with other wood we had. The method that worked best for me was to put the whole project on the ground and place the edges of my sheet of wood on 1/2″ strips of wood so that where I am drilling is raised above the ground slightly. Then I stood on the sheet of wood on either side of the drilled so that as it tried to turn, it would be braced on my calf. Yes I looked a bit like a pretzel, but I succeeded without any bruises, dislocated elbows, or accidentally shredded shoes.
Aside from the bottom line drawn, I free-handed the tree shape. I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you’re a perfectionist because if you look closely my lines are a little crooked and my tree sides aren’t perfectly symmetrical in length. If done over, I would make straight lines marking the center of each jar. Since there is a drill bit in the center of the hole saw, you can easily place that drill it on your center line marks.
Cut out the tree shape and sand smooth. I used the edge of a level to trace straight lines and cut out the tree using a jigsaw. With 60 grit sand paper I smoothed out any rough edges and removed splinters.
Cut trim to length and attach. Then paint! I used a nail gun to attach the trim, but screws would work great too, especially if you are going to cover the trim with ribbon, garland, or other decor.
Attach a hanger and spacers. Since the jars stick out the back of the tree, you’re going to need spacers longer that the length of the jar that sticks out the back. Otherwise the wall may push the jars back out. My plywood was just over 1/2″ thick so the jars stuck out the back another 3/4″. I used a wooden dowel and cut the top one to 1″ and the bottom two, to 1 3/4″. You want the bottom spacers to be longer than the top so that the whole tree is slightly angled up to ensure that any loose jars won’t fall out. For the most part the jars can be pressed in to fit very snug, but I took the extra precaution anyway.
For the hanger I just screwed in two screws and wrapped wire around each. Nice and easy and was able to make any length I wanted. I used a Wallbiter hook because they can hold a heavy object well in Sheetrock.
Decorating the jar lids. This step was my favorite! The creative possibilities are endless. I’ll admit, I spent more than I would have liked in supplies at the craft store. If I planned ahead more this would be a perfect way to recycle old Christmas cards and/or holiday layouts in magazines!
Using the lid I traced and cut out circles of paper and glued those to the lids. I originally used rubber cement for this but half did not adhere and I had to go back and sneak a little E6000 or hot glue under the paper. Once the lids dried I began decorating. I used the hot glue gun for large items and E6000 for smaller items.
The numbers were actually a set of pins I found at Michael’s Craft stores-perfect right?!
*If I wasn’t such a procrastinator (did you notice the date of this post?) I would have given myself the time to also spray paint the jar rings-I think an antiquey brushed brass color would have looked really cool.
Fill the jars! I loosely wrapped the objects in tissue paper so that nothing could be seen through the clear jar. It’s unlikely that my daughters would be able to see into any jar other than the bottom 3, but you never know how clever (and motivated) they can be!
Here are some non-candy ideas:
- Lego minifigures
- Littlest pet shop figures
- Animals figures, like the smaller Schleich animals or craft stores also sell tubes of small animal figures that would be ideal for these jars
- Grow in water toys or those dissoluble capsules that have animal shaped foam inside
- Small ornaments for their own small Christmas tree
- Small figure pieces for your pre-existing Christmas village.
- Doll house parts, or now craft stores are selling “miniatures” for fairy gardens and other cute dollhouse-like displays
- Pieces of a whole puzzle dispersed through all the jars
- Sprinkles and/or cupcake liners for that days Christmas baking activity
- Small party favors from Party City or Dollar Tree (or similar stores)
- Craft supplies-much like what you used to make these, gems, glitter, stickers, etc.
- Various beads and jewelry making supplies dispersed throughout the month.
- Shopkin toys taken out of their packs
- Temporary tattoos
Hi there! I’m Kaley, prevailing parent and wife, but also just me; stubborn lover of DIY everything, outdoors, and chocolate. Read more about myself and my family under the “Parenting” > “About My Family” tabs.