advent calendar

The Advent of Beauty

I’ve made advent calendars in the past, usually filled with chocolates and tiny toys for Harry.  This year I decided to make a rather different one for a couple of my girlfriends, which reveals a new beauty treat each day through the month of December…

DIY beauty gift advent calendar

A few weeks ago, I began to collect pocket-sized lotions, potions, lip balms and soaps; sprays and rollers and mini-mirrors and scents.  Some were saved from in-flight washbags or handed out at beauty counters as samples, whilst others I bought especially.

Some are meaningful gifts in themselves; the Cowshed candle that will burn gently by a bathtub for many nights, or the This Works pillow spray – whereas others are one-time fun throwaways; a single use Clarins hand-cream sachet or a sample-sized scent from Miller Harris.  A couple of chocolates did find their way in too…DIY Beauty Advent Calendar ideasI used a simple £5 wooden advent house frame, and painted the interior squares with different shades of green paint; olive, leaf, sage and the lightest mint. Then I counted out the goodies and wrapped each one in tissue paper before stuffing it into one of the squares (I didn’t number them; it’s a lucky dip choice!). I then cut a piece of cardboard in the shape of the house by tracing around it, and covered it with giftwrap to make a lid for the calendar and tied a ribbon around; DIY Christmas Beauty Advent CalendarAll ready for December 1st!

You could also use simple envelopes (glassine or paper) and a normal gift box for your advent calendar.  My other friend lives across the pond in Philadelphia so I’ll be taking hers on the plane, and opted to box it up instead, using different sized mini-envelopes with wax seals…Beauty advent calendar in day by day envelopes


A few ideas if you fancy making this;

  • 24 is a lot of envelopes or boxes to fill, especially with just ten days to go; try buying multi-packs of things like lipbalm flavours, travel-sized product sets or simply cruising the aisles of Sephora, Boots or other beauty stores asking for freebie sample-size sachets and trial use products
  • Mix it up with mini-chocolates, hair clips, temporary tattoos (Meri Meri for kids or for me :-) ) or tiny nail polish pots
  • Other ideas entirely; different herbal or fruit-flavoured tea-bags.  Tiny dinosaurs for little people (I’ve made one for Harry this year filled with pocket-sized velociraptors and triceratops).  Miniature bottles of spirits for a whiskey-lover who is worth the investment …the possibilities are endless.  Best of all, share this with someone who might just make one for you, with a heavy-handed nudge.  After all, they have 10 WHOLE DAYS to get going!

handbag logo

Preparing for the big countdown…



Whilst Christmas is still some way off (thankfully), Advent is fast approaching.  This week I’ve spent the evenings cosily wrapping a myriad of tiny boxes with surprises, notes and treats for Harry to uncover through each day of December.  I’ll string them from an armful of silver-sprayed branches and position them in the hall where they can offer a tantalising reminder of the excitements to come.

For my advent boxes I’ve used a random collection of matchboxes, raisin packets (both full and empty), old jewellery boxes and others, and used  offcuts of white, red and brown paper to wrap them all with scraps of ribbon and silver thread – each one is different, but the repeating colour palette gives them a harmonious appearance when hung from the branches. I’ve used pretty buttons and embellishments extravagantly because I know I can just gather them up once discarded in the thrill of opening, and reuse again next year.

A number of the advent boxes contain chocolates, raisins or other sweet treats, but there are some surprises too; I found this tiny nativity set here, and have packaged each member up individually and spread them across the month, so that Harry can collect them all and we can tell him the Christmas story as we go… there are also a couple of decorations to hang on the tree as Christmas approaches.

With Harry’s birthday falling in early December, we’re anticipating something of a swelling of the toy cupboard next month, so one advent box provides a bag for him to carefully choose some toys he’s grown out of and no longer plays with that we can take to the local charity shop to be loved again by someone else – and to create some crucial space for new arrivals.  At risk of sounding pious, I want Harry to understand how lucky we are, and from the outset to see Christmas as a time of giving as well as receiving.

Harry’s advent calendar also marks a few of the events that we know will happen over the month; the nursery school nativity play falls in the middle of December, and Harry has been cast as Joseph (how my heart secretly swells with maternal pride!  Harry himself is a bit cross because he wanted to be a reindeer).  It’s the first time he’ll have performed in any kind of play or production, so feeling the safety of this ‘magic button’ in his pocket may help keep wobbles at bay when he sees us in the audience.

The most important box of all will be opened on Christmas Eve, and is immediately identifiable by its sparkly gold exterior.  Inside, Harry will find a tiny letter from the elves, sealed with a button, explaining all the things we need to do to prepare for Father Christmas’s arrival (carrots for Rudolph, stockings over the fireplace and a myriad of other anticipation-building activities..).  There are also a couple of little treats for the elves themselves; a tiny half walnut-shell bed, with a down feather to ensure the softest nap ever – because they must be exhausted at this point in the year, and everyone benefits from a power nap –  plus a few ‘elf donuts’; Cheerios sprinkled with powdered sugar (in case Harry is tempted to sample one himself).

If you fancy making one of these for the little (or not so little) people in your life, here’s a wee list of some of the other things in our boxes (just don’t tell Harry…)

  • Chocolate ‘gold’ coins and racing cars
  • Lego mini men
  • Raisins
  • A handful of ‘snowballs’ (white pompoms) to thread together
  • A few real coins for Harry’s moneybox
  • Paper chains to make to decorate the playroom

What Christmas traditions do you have for your children? It’s the first year that Harry is really, properly aware of Christmas and excited by it, so it feels like the first time we can start to create some family traditions and memories for him; all further inspiration welcomed please!

Have a wonderful weekend…