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Make Your Own Advent Calendar: Cookie Sheet Calendar Ideas

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.


For the past 150 years, advent calendars have been an integral component of Christmas preparations for many families all around the world. There are numerous advent calendars available for sale, but you and your family may enjoy making your own calendar this year. If you spend any time on Pinterest browsing Christmas crafts, most likely you have seen cookie sheet advent calendars. They are an easy fun idea with many customization options. Happy crafting!

Please note that the photos that I have included of my cookie sheet calendar and the tutorial links that I have included are intended for inspiration for personal use only products. If you intend to sell your calendars, do not copy any of these ideas explicitly unless you obtained permission. Thank you!

There are many vintage and retro-inspired advent calendars available.

There are many vintage and retro-inspired advent calendars available.

Advent Calendar History

  • Advent calendars got their start in Germany, which is where we have adopted many of our Christmas traditions, during the early 19th century. They become more popular every year.
  • There have been many variations of the advent calendar throughout history, including drawing chalk lines to mark off the dates, lighting candles, and putting up small religious images. The modern notion of opening a door with a treat, such as piece of chocolate or a toy, came later. Today there are a wide variety of themes for advent calendars, including both sacred and secular themes.
  • The Germans sold their calendars through the beginning of World War II when they had to cease due to war shortages. Richard Selmer initiated production again in 1946. President Eisenhower is largely responsible for making the advent calendar an American tradition while he was president.
  • Initially advent calendars had 24 days with Christmas Eve as the completion. German calendars still uphold this tradition, but it is not unusual to find American calendars with 25 days that have Christmas as the completion.

{Source: The History of the Advent Calendar]

BBC Worldwide Advent Calendar


Make your own advent calendar

This is a basic list of the materials that I used to make my cookie sheet calendar. Please note that the tutorials featured below may have slightly differing lists. Please plan accordingly.

  • One cookie sheet. Please do not purchase an expensive cookie sheet. I got mine from Wal-Mart as a 3 pack for $5 or less that I have used for a wide variety of craft projects. Many people are also able to find them at dollar stores.
  • Acrylic (and a foam brush) or spray paint. You can make the painting process as simple or complex as you like. Many people opt to spray paint the cookie sheet. I used acrylic paint because I already had green on hand. Either option will work well if you don't want to leave your sheet silver. I also used red and green paints to cover my screw top lids that were originally turquoise and magenta.
  • Two pieces of 12x12" scrapbook paper. Many people use a single sheet for the calendar base and then another sheet for some of the detail work at the top and bottom of the calendar. For my calendar, I cut one piece to 10x10" with a table top paper cutter for the calendar. I used a small rectangle from a second sheet for the backing of the "Merry Christmas" lettering at the top and two different cardstock colors for the wording at the bottom.
  • Mod Podge. I recommend giving the painted cookie sheet, the decorated screw tops, and the final cookie sheet calendar base a coat of all purpose Mod Podge (glossy or matte is fine). I also choose to coat my painted screw tops and then the final decorated screw tops.
  • Spray acrylic. If you are using any ink-jet printed materials, such as numbers and Christmas images, please give them a couple coats of spray acrylic before you apply Mod Podge to keep the ink from running. I also gave my final decorated cookie sheet and screw tops a couple coats of spray acrylic AFTER the final Mod Podge coats. This will ensure that your calendar has a long life span without a lot of chipped paint and broken pieces.
  • 24 (or 25) screw top containers, decorative magnets, or trinkets and/or craft or neodymium magnets. I chose to use screw top containers with neodymium magnets glued to the bottom. Some people simply feature magnets, such as decorative Christmas magnets, OR trinkets with craft magnets glued to the bottom. I found screw top containers in the travel section of Target with the travel sized soaps, lotions, etc for approximately $0.60 per piece.
  • E-6000 glue. Many people use a hot glue gun to attach the magnets to the screw top containers or trinkets. This will suffice for most purposes, but I recommend using E-6000 instead if you can, as it is likely to hold for a longer period of time
  • Two sets of handmade or purchased numbers. You'll need one set of numbers for the cookie sheet and another set for your screw tops or trinkets. Many people use scrapbook or Cricut materials. I printed images of elevator buttons for my cookie sheet. (I do not have a close up picture of this portion of the cookie sheet, but the images are right here.) I typed and printed numbers in both numerical and word form in different sizes and fonts for my screw tops.
  • Trinkets and décor of your choosing. One of the most fun parts of the cookie sheet advent calendar is decorating it! Have fun choosing additional elements to finish it.

Tip: Switch it up and use the back of the cookie sheet instead of the front to make your calendar.

I did not use a single resource for my cookie sheet advent calendar and instead took inspiration from a number of tutorials that I found over the past year. I encourage you to do the same so that your calendar is a one of a kind creation that fits you and your family perfectly.

  • Craft-o-Maniac. Keep it simple with handwritten numbers for the calendar and dollar store goodies with craft magnets for the different days.
  • Tater Tots and Jello. Jen has a great list of ideas for trinkets to use for your calendar.
  • Nap Time Crafters. Amy uses glass stones and printed Christmas images to make the magnets for her calendar. The Craft Patch also has great glass calendar magnets.
  • Sharyn Carlson. Add a small numbered item to a simple background each day.
  • Theresa McFayden. This is another great resource for trinket ideas.
  • fleamarketstudio. Of course I love this calendar that has a vintage music background and matchbox trinket boxes.
  • Michaels. Switch it up and make a Christmas tree for the calendar instead of the classic calendar boxes layout.
  • Then She Made. Get fancy with individually created calendar box squares.
  • Cricut. Are you obsessed with your Cricut? You can use it to make nearly all of your calendar components
  • luckydog on craftster. Instead of using screw top containers, opt for small Altoid tins.
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Simon's Advent Calendar for Christmas

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Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 06, 2013:

Thanks so much, Better Yourself! Yes, for sure.

Better Yourself from North Carolina on May 05, 2013:

Another great hub and fun ideas! It's a great way to get kids involved to make your own advent calendar.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 25, 2012:

Thanks, Cara! I hope that you find time to do this next year.

cardelean from Michigan on November 25, 2012:

Love these ideas Rose! I think that I'm going to have to pass on making one this year because of time constraints but I'd love to do this with my kids for next year. Once again, a great hub filled with awesome ideas!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 19, 2012:

Thanks, Barbara! That's great.

Barbara Badder from USA on November 19, 2012:

I like this idea. I'll share it on my group.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 19, 2012:

Thanks so much, Sharyn and Kathy! I had never heard of these calendars until they started popping up on Pinterest, but I had to have one, too.

Kathy Sima from Ontario, Canada on November 19, 2012:

I love this hub, Rose! So many great ideas in here. Your advent calendar is very cute. I'd never heard of cookie sheet calendars before, but now I think I need to have one!

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on November 19, 2012:

You are so creative Rose. This hub is awesome and I will be sharing it all over.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 19, 2012:

Thanks much, Kelley!

kelleyward on November 19, 2012:

What a fantastic idea! I love advent calendars! Voted up and shared !! Kelley

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 18, 2012:

Thanks, Rebecca! There is nothing wrong with following a tutorial exactly, but if you want to make a personalized calendar, you'll be able to piece together a plan from multiple tutorials. Best of luck!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on November 18, 2012:

I've been wanting to make one of these. Good suggestion about watching tutorials and coming up with your own. Love it!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 15, 2012:

Thanks, Tonipet! I appreciate the link. Happy holidays!

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on November 15, 2012:

Surprisingly creative. I don't imagine myself perfecting this, LOL... but I'm trying. Hope you don't mind me linking my "Homemade Christmas Presents for the Men in Your Life".... to this beautiful article. This would delight every reader to know they too can make a unique holiday calendar made of anything from their cookie scratches. Thanks in advance and also HAPPY HOLIDAYS in every way. :=)

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 04, 2012:

Thanks, Julie! I know what you mean that you really only need one. Too bad, right? :)

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on October 04, 2012:

Wow. This is so darn creative. I love advent calendars, but it is one of those things where you really only need one. LOL- great job on this hub!!!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 03, 2012:

That's great, Glimmer Twin Fan!

Claudia Porter on October 03, 2012:

So awesome! Going to do this with my daughter. Pinned too.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 02, 2012:

That's great, Alissa! I hope that you're able to make a calendar one of these years.

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on October 02, 2012:

I have been wanting to make an advent calendar for so long but could never decide what kind to make. Love your cookie sheet idea - definitely pinning this one so I can use it later for ideas!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 01, 2012:

That's great, Steph! Have fun with your calendar. :)

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on October 01, 2012:

Love this idea! My kids would love to help me make their own advent calendar. You have amazing tips here. Voted up and pinning!

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 01, 2012:

SidKemp, that's neat! Good luck with it.

Thanks, Terrye!

Thelma, I can only imagine how many options are available over in Germany. I'm glad that you enjoyed this.

Yvonne, the little screw top containers are perfect for little treats. Your calendar sounds neat!

Yvonne Spence from UK on October 01, 2012:

Nice and colourful, and I like your idea of using the little screw top containers: little treats could go inside. We have a wooden advent calendar that we decorated a few years ago and that also has lots of compartments to open.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on September 30, 2012:

Wow! Another wonderful idea for Christmas. I would try to make this. I have not made this in my life as there are lots of Christmas Advent Calendar on sale in Germany. Great idea. Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 30, 2012:

This is a wonderful idea, I love it. Voted up and sharing.

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on September 30, 2012:

This is a really cool idea. My wife & I get a printed Advent calendar every year from her mother. One year, I tried to paint one of my own (two layers, pictures hidden behind a painting with sliced windows). But I'd never heard of trinkets, rather than a picture underneath a paper window. I may try that - but, anyway, I'm inspired to make an Advent calendar again.

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