Find out the five most common household items that inspire homemade countdown calendars! It’s a great family tradition and a way to teach patience. We’ll learn about calendars that you can make with your kids while using items from the recycling bin.
You can listen to this podcast episode on Advent or countdown calendars made from recycled materials in this YouTube video. It originally aired in November 2017.
When I was a kid, my mom made an Advent calendar from a felt evergreen tree, and my siblings and I would take turns pinning felt ornaments on the tree. These calendars are a great way to raise an important idea in our family life, and that is the value of waiting patiently.
I believe that a lot of trash is caused by our inability to delay gratification. We generate trash by buying things that are packaged for convenience. If we bought the ingredients and made it ourselves, we would often produce a lot less trash.
I am a fan of calendars that don’t involve buying gifts or candies because that typically leads to more garbage. I prefer calendars that increase collaboration rather than consumption. Another advantage of collaborative calendars is that you don’t have go out and buy a bunch of candies or small gifts each year. You just pull out the calendar and off you go. I found many ideas that encouraged family members to get creative, which I share in this podcast.
To see photos of many inspirational calendars, visit the Trashmagination Pinterest board on Advent and countdown calendars from recycled materials.
Calendars Described in this Podcast
Cardboard Toilet Paper Tube / Roll Calendars
Tubes Attached into a Square Shape by Oh Oh Blog
Tubes Attached in a Star Shape by La cour des petits
Tubes Attached in a Wreath Shape by Krokotak
Tubes in a Tree Shape by Coffee and Vanilla
Tubes Hanging from a Clothesline
Flattened Tubes in a Snowflake Shape by Krokotak
Tubes as Turrets in a Castle by Krokotak
Tubes as Trees in a Forest
Variation – Plastic Yogurt Containers by Le cour des petits
Boxes (Match Boxes, Altoid Tins etc.)
Christmas Calendar House by The Messy Crafter
Match Boxes Arranged in a Tree / Triangle Shape by Country Living
Boxes in a Book by Le Scrap de Manou
Boxes Attached to Toy Reindeer by Baballa
Altoid Tin Tree by Sassy Crafter
Scrap Wood Tree Calendars
Holiday Card Calendars
Items to Put Inside Advent or Countdown Calendars
Activity coupons for things you might do together
Tea bags that you can compost after using
Items that your family member collects such as coins or stamps
Craft supplies such as beads, buttons, scissors, erasers, washi tape or punches
Soaps, especially made locally
Sidewalk chalk – you can make your own
Crayons in fun shapes – you can melt down old crayons into molds 
Musical items such as wind instrument reeds, harmonicas, shakers, castanets or guitar picks
Emergency items such as a small flashlight, mini first aid kits or mini sewing kits
Reindeer poop (chocolate covered raisins)
- Script for this podcast episode about Advent and countdown calendars made from recycled materials (not a transcript but gives the main ideas)
- The Trashmagination podcast theme music is Kitchen from the Marian Circle Drum Brigade.