On the Second Day of a Crafty Christmas…
Like many families we start counting down the time to Christmas with Advent Calendars. In the last few years, we have traded our traditional ones for a few unique DIY calendars that are so much fun! My kids have always loved puzzles, especially my son, so this Puzzle Advent Calendar has been a huge hit. This year my daughter is joining in on the fun for the first time.
Last year I created a Beer Advent Calendar for my husband. He is already looking forward to doing it again this year! The great thing about that calendar is I am using the same box system I built last year and just filling it with new beer. This Puzzle Advent Calendar is similar – I am using the same things I made last year just with a new puzzle!
How it works: Each day of December, Puzzle Penguin brings my kids 2-4 puzzle pieces that join together to create a finished puzzle on December 25th. I started this calendar with my son when he was 3. It was perfect because he loves puzzles and I also thought it would be great for him to visually see us getting closer to Christmas. He could see we were getting closer and closer to Christmas as his puzzle became bigger and more completed. After Christmas the kids have a new puzzle to play with all year long!
I love this Puzzle Advent Calendar because it is really easy to do each night. Numbering the pieces at the beginning takes the longest but I’ll show you how I do mine. Once the pieces are numbered, I divide them up into 25 numbered baggies and I’m all set! Each night I just put the next day’s puzzle pieces into Puzzle Penguin’s bag and I’m done! You could use any stuffed animal to deliver the puzzle pieces. I made our Puzzle Penguin’s little messenger bag from felt to hold the pieces – and of course he needed a bowtie to be fancy!
Making the Puzzle Bag:
Making a little red messenger bag for the puzzle pieces is fairly simple. Grab one of the puzzle pieces from the puzzle you are using and lay it out on a piece of red felt. Cut a long rectangle the width of your puzzle piece, plus about 1/2″ on either side. For the size of my puzzle piece, I cut a rectangle 3″ wide by the length of my felt, which was about 11″. Cut 1 or 2 thin strips from the felt, about 1/2″ wide. These will be for the bag’s strap.
Fold the bottom of the rectangle up to cover the puzzle piece, leaving a little space above and below. For my puzzle piece, this was another 3″. Now you have the bag part of your messenger bag created. Next, we need to add a flap so the bag can close. I made my flap 2.5″.
Stitch the side of the bag closed using white embroidery floss and a small running stitch. Do not stitch the bag’s flap.
Add the strap to the bag, but first, measure to see how long the strap should be. My puzzle penguin was pretty big, so I stitched two straps together first and then stitched them to the underside of my bag’s flap as pictured below.
Trace one of the puzzle pieces onto green felt. Cut it out a little smaller so it will fit on the flap of the bag. Hand-stitch the puzzle piece to the outside of the flap using green embroidery floss and a small running stitch.
Add Velcro dots so the little messenger bag will stay closed!
Now, Puzzle Penguin has a little bag to hold the puzzle pieces! The nice thing about this type of Advent Calendar is you can reuse Puzzle Penguin, his bag and the plastic baggies that hold the pieces. Each year I just pick out a new holiday puzzle (or non-holiday puzzle) and I’m all set!
Dividing up the Puzzle Pieces:
For the Puzzle Advent Calendar to work, you will need to divide up the total number of puzzle pieces over 25 days. It is easiest to choose a puzzle that can easily be divided by 25 – like 50 or 100 pieces. You can go bigger so there are more pieces each day, but the bigger you go, the more work it is to divide up the pieces.
This Ravensburger Puzzle pictured is the puzzle I did for my son last year. It is a 100-piece puzzle (well, it claims to be-there were actually 104 pieces!). The first thing I did was assemble the puzzle. I decided to start with the little boy’s face and end with Santa’s face. So I took the first four pieces and numbered them 1 through 4 on the back and then built them in a different place. I then picked another four pieces that connected to the first four and numbered them 5-8 and added them to the first four. I continued this way until the last four pieces, the ones making up Santa’s face, were left. Now, because this puzzle ended up having 104 pieces (next time I’ll count all the pieces before starting!), I had to go back and add a piece to four of the days.
I put all the pieces in numbered baggies and the calendar was ready! This probably took me a couple hours to figure out the first time I did it, but it took me only a couple minutes each day of December to put the next day’s puzzle pieces in the Penguin’s bag. My son had a blast and really got excited about waking up and adding to his puzzle!
This is the puzzle, pictured below, that I’m doing for my son this year. It is another 100-piece Christmas puzzle. For my daughter I’m doing a 60-piece puzzle, so she’ll get 2-3 pieces a day :)
If you give this DIY Puzzle Advent Calendar a try, I’d love to know! What other fun ways do you count down to Christmas?
I’ll be back tomorrow with another fun DIY for the 3rd Day of a Crafty Christmas!
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