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Matchbox Advent Calendar

Matchbox Advent Calendar. Children will have a great “time” making this Advent Calendar. See why.

Matchbox Advent Calendar

A matchbox advent calendar counts the days until Christmas Eve—starting on the first of December and ending on December 24th. These calendars come in different shapes, sizes, and themes. Each day, a little door or window is opened—often revealing a special treat for children who greatly anticipate the coming of Christmas. This particular advent calendar is made with boxes— which can be filled with tiny goodies. Every day is a surprise. What will that little drawer reveal? That’s up to you. It’s all part of the magic of this heartwarming holiday.

More than a matchbox advent calendar, this unique holiday craft is also a clock that can help you teach little ones the time. The numbers on the matchboxes correspond with both hours and dates. Your children or grandchildren will love to play along—as they will soon understand that every 24 hours brings them one day closer to Christmas. Go ahead, put on some holiday music and make this advent calendar a family affair. They’ll be more than happy to lend you a hand in no time!

What you need to make a matchbox advent calendar:

  • Poster board (OR) any other type cardboard
  • Doily (14 inches)
  • Gift wrapping paper (in either solid colors or Christmas themes)
  • 24 empty matchboxes
  • 24 brads for drawers
  • 1 brad to hold the clock hands
  • Stickers with Christmas/winter themes
  • Stickers (OR) glitter glue for the numbers
  • String (about 16 inches for hanger)
  • All-puporse glue
  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Thick darning needle

Making a Matchbox Advent CalendarInstructions:

Draw a circle of 13.5 inches on your cardboard and cut it out. If you want to cover it with paper, use your compass to draw two circles on the back of your wrapping paper—one that’s 13.5 inches in diameter and make the other 14.5 inches. Cut out the outer circle. Cut the lines between the two circles about 1 inch apart all the way around. This will be the edge that gets glued to the back of your cardboard. (SEE BELOW.)

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Center the doily on the front side and glue it down. Cut out two clock hands—one about 3 inches long and the other 2.5 long. Both should be a half inch wide. Center the large clock on the doily and glue it down at the 12 o’clock position. Use a brad to attach the smaller clock hand on top of the larger clock hand—in a way that it can be moved.

Take the tray inserts out of the matchboxes. Have the matchboxes covered and glued with wrapping paper and glue them evenly in a circle— starting with the 12 o’clock matchbox. (This will serve as the inner circle of matchboxes. Outer circle will come later.) The distance between the brad in the center and the lower edge of the matchbox should be 3 inches. With a darning needle, set the string just above the 12 0’clock matchbox—sewing from back to front and then front to back and tighten. The two loose ends are in the back. Make a knot and  use is as a hanger for the clock.

(Click on pictures to enlarge.)

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Now, glue the outer circle of matchboxes onto the clock. (These should be set flush with the inner matchboxes.) Make a hole with your darning needle on one end of each matchbox drawer.  Attach one brad to each drawer and put the matchboxes together. (SEE BELOW.) You’re now ready to decorate the matchboxes. You can either write the numbers with glitter glue or simply use numbered stickers.

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You are ready to fill up the drawers of the matchbox advent calendar with some goodies.

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Want to make another advent calendar? Try this one!

(Click photo for instructions.)

Displaying Matchbox Advent Calendar

German Christmas Celebration

German Christmas Celebrations and Traditions for all to enjoy.

German Christmas Celebrations

German Christmas celebrations start with the first of Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas) and ends on December 26th, which is the second Holiday of Christmas. In between, are different traditional celebrations and activities with deeper meanings beyond shopping sprees and gift giving. It is called “Vorweihnachtszeit” which means “The Pre-Season.”

German Christmas Celebrations Table Decorations

Highlight of the German Christmas Celebrations

The highlight is Christmas Eve on December 24th, when the “Christkind” comes and brings the presents. The Christkind is a sprite-like angel of sorts, and as children we always were told that we can not see it—and shouldn’t even try—otherwise this special gift-giver wouldn’t bring presents. I pictured the Christkind always as a curly blond-haired figure with wings and a simple white dress with gold borders. In my mind, I could imagine seeing it fly past the window with all the presents in hand. I’m sure I wasn’t the only child with this magical image in my head.

The Christmas tree, which was decorated by my parents on Christmas Eve, was always a big surprise. The tree was set up in the “good stubb” (or front room) and under no circumstance were we allowed to take a peek behind those closed doors. The unveiling was pure magic. Upon entering, the only light in this festive room was from the lit wax candles on the tree. I remember there was a bell hanging on a branch that played Silent Night. Aside from all the presents under the tree, it was clear Christkind had been there. You could just feel it. To me the Christmas Tree always has been the most important part of the German Christmas traditions.

German Christmas Celebrations - Christmas Decoration

While the children unwrapped presents, my mother prepared the food—always potato salad, some sausages, and bread—a tradition I still keep today. Later on, the Christmas feast consisted of roasted Goose, some red cabbage, and dumplings. I never really liked eating goose, but I did enjoy the goose fat. When the drippings hardened, I would spread it on bread seasoned with salt and pepper.

I hope you have as many wonderful memories of Christmas as I did. _Oma

It’s beginning to look a lot like Weihnachten.

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Countdown To Christmas:

The German Christmas Traditions start with the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreath

Advents Wreath German Christmas Celebrations

December is a month when I needed to do some concentrated planning to keep up with all the German Christmas celebrations.The advent calendar would countdown the days to Christmas—and the advent wreath would countdown the weeks. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, a candle would be lit. Each Sunday thereafter, one more candle would be lit until all four were illuminated. Both the calendar and the wreath were special treats for my kids.

Create your own holiday tradition. Here’s how to build an advent calendar out of empty matchboxes. Your children will love it! Click here for instructions.

Branch Out on St. Barbara’s Day (December 4th)

Barbarazweig—Barbara’s Branch is also part of the German Christmas Celebrations

German Christmas Celebrations Barbara Branches

Here’s one more of the great German Christmas traditions. On the 4th of December, the feast day of St. Barbara, I cut branches from my cherry tree and put them in water so that they bloom on the 25th of December. I always place tags on the various branches with the names of all the members of the family. The name of the person attached to the first blooming twig will have luck in the following year.

NOTE: If you can’t get a cherry branches, try substituting the shoots of some other blossoming tree or plant. Try: apple, plum, lilac, or forsythia and celebrate Barbarazweig in your own special way.

So who was this Saint Barbara? Legend has it, she was young lady who lived around 300 A.D. in Asia Minor (which is today known as Turkey). Barbara was held in a tower by her pagan father to secure her innocence while he was away. While imprisoned, she converted to Christianity. Not willing to give up her new faith, her father planned her execution. While waiting for her demise, Barbara watered the twig from a cherry branch that grew outside her cell window. She watered it every day. Twenty one days after poor Babara’s beheading, the twig started to bloom. As for her horrible father, well, he was struck dead by lightning immediately after the execution. No wonder some believers pray to St. Barbara during a thunderstorm.

Old Saint Nick? Not quite. It’s December 6th. Time for Nikolaus!

German Christmas Celebrations St. Nikolaus

Sankt Nikolaus – der heilige Nikolaus

Get ready for one of the German Christmas celebrations with Nikolaus. On the 6th of December, Nikolaustag,  Nikolaus is coming. And German children couldn’t be more excited.

Nikolaus is accompanied by his helper, Knecht Ruprecht. Nikolaus is dressed in red and his sidekick wears brown. Don’t confuse Nikolaus with the other guy in red. Santa and him are two different people with two different stories.

Now, back to the kids. In the evening of the 5th, the children leave their freshly cleaned boots outside the front door. The next morning, amazingly, their boots will be filled with chocolate, goodies, oranges, mandarins, and nuts. Sometimes, Nikolaus will even pay a visit to the families and read out of his big black book.

German Christmas Celebrations Boots

Throughout Europe, and even in various regions in Germany, there are many Saint Nicks (Sankt Nikolaus or der heilige Nikolaus), which one are you familiar with and what are those traditions? I’d love to know and share those stories.

German Gingerbread the real one. A gift that’s always in good taste.

The original gingerbread also adds to the German Christmas traditions. Even though my children and grandchildren are far away, I still keep the Nikolaus tradition alive and well. Each year, I send a Nikolaus bag filled with goodies for the little ones. And for the bigger ones, I order from a variety of authentic gingerbreads from Germany. Sure, it’s not the same as filling up boots but as they say, it’s the spirit that counts! These gingerbreads are beautifully presented in a historical-themed tin box—making a great gift for family and friends.

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Merry Christmas to you and yours. Blessings, Oma

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Adent Calendar Instruction

An Advent calendar that is truly unmatched.

Advent Calendar Instruction

The Advent calendar is a special themed calendar that helps children eagerly count the days until Christmas. Whether used religiously or not, the calendar has special doors or windows that reveal a special treat, poem, or picture. This particular hanging calendar is made of matchboxes—so the contents inside slide open to the delight of every child who waits with great anticipation for December 25 to arrive. Children can create their very own advent calendar with these following advent calendar instructions. This year, Advent begins on November 27, so let’s get started now, shall we?

What you need:

  • 24 empty matchboxes
  • Stickers with Christmas/winter themes
  • Stickers with numbers
  • All-purpose glue
  • Paper (either solid colors, gift wrap, foils, or whatever you wish)
  • 2.5” metal ring (available in arts & crafts stores)
  • Scissors
  • Christmas decorations (like the wired pine branch shown in picture)
  • 24 brads (multiple varieties and themes available in arts & crafts stores)
  • Ribbon 80” x 2.5”

Instructions for Making Adent Calendar

Instructions:

Take the matchboxes apart. The outside will be decorated, the inside will be used as a drawer.

Start to glue your paper around the boxes. (I used two-sided foil—5 7/8 x 5 7/8 sheets—available in the origami paper section of your arts & crafts store)

Cut overlapping edges away. Glue the seam in the back.

Use the numbered stickers (1 – 24) and glue them onto the boxes.

Take the inside box and make a small hole on the side to attach the brads. Put the boxes back together.

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Decorate the boxes by your own choice with the stickers.

Take the metal ring and wrap it with the wired decoration of your choice— pine, or ribbon, or decorative cord, or just leave as is.

Wrap the ribbon on one end around the ring and either glue or tack it together.

Place your decorated boxes on the ribbon—about 4 inches below the ring—and line the rest next to each other, underneath.

Leave a tail of about 4-5 inches from the bottom.

Now that you have your matchboxes in place, glue the back of the boxes and some on the bottom side so that it affixes to next box underneath.

Use the rest of the ribbon to make a bow.

Stabilize the bow in the center with wire (or wired deco pine) and attach it to the metal ring.

Now fill the boxes with some goodies and your advent calendar is ready to hang. DONE!

 

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