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Friday, December 2, 2011

84 Our Holiday Countdown Project!

Advent and holiday countdowns.  They are popping up ALL over Pinterest and the blog world.

Thank goodness they are because it actually got my brain wheels spinning and got me inspired to DIY one for our family this year.

Sure, we have done those cheapy calendars from department stores where we eat a little treat each day.  But I wanted to do something with meaning.  Something special and that we could do year after year.  Something that would bring us closer through the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  And maybe even something that can be passed down from generation to generation.

So I decided an "activity" holiday countdown was the way to go.  I thought of all sorts of ways to house the activities, from clothespins and twine to wall pockets and pin boards.  I ultimately decided I wanted a little decorative

box to keep for year after year.

I found one at a JoAnn for $6.99 minus a 40% off coupon!


I couldn't wait to paint it!  Taping off the glass wasn't all that fun.  So I figured I would just paint the outside to save time.



I just used a dollar tube of craft paint and picked one of my most favorite colors that I figure will look good in any space in our home.

Once the tape was removed, I was less than impressed.


Aside from a little paint seepage {which I later scraped off of the glass with a utility knife blade}, I didn't love the look of the natural box interior.

Martha Stewart to the rescue!


I had found this paint at our local home improvement store and I had a couple of ideas up my sleeve for how I wanted to use it.  This project was not originally one of them.  Don't you love how that works?  But it was my first project to use the paint with and I have to say, it was pretty amazing.


It covered well and really left a glistening metallic sheen!  So, I painted it on the entire interior of the box {after I taped out all of the glass on the inside}.

While I let all of the paint dry, I got to work coming up with a list of activities for our family to partake in over the next 24 days until Christmas {I used Google to help me with this and they are in no particular order}:
  • Read a holiday story
  • Write down what you adore most about each member of the family
  • Take an outdoor stroll
  • Have a pajama dance party
  • Have breakfast for dinner
  • Donate a gift{s} to charity
  • Pick out a Christmas tree
  • Have a cup of hot cocoa
  • Cut out paper snowflakes and hang them in the window
  • Watch your favorite holiday movie with popcorn
  • Go on a Christmas lights drive
  • Decorate the Christmas tree
  • Bake a holiday treat
  • Make an ornament for the tree
  • Play a game together
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make holiday greeting cards
  • Make a snowman
  • Play Christmas music and sing-along
  • Unplug from electronics for one whole day
  • Go out for ice cream
  • Take a photo each hour of the day
  • Make a gift for your teacher
  • Have a slumber party by the Christmas tree
Then, I created them in a "printable" format:

{click here to download your FREE holiday countdown activity cards}

You can download the cards for FREE, I left a page on the back blank so if you don't wish to do our activities, you can write in your own!

I printed them on card-stock and cut them out.


Because I needed a way to "number" the activities, I started out by cutting numbers out of decorative cardstock with my Silhouette craft machine.


Then, I just used a little Mod Podge to affix the numbers to the fronts of some standard greeting card envelopes.


Because I am "mom", I know what days I have some specific events planned, such as our charity shopping day or the day we are going to pick out our Christmas tree, I made sure to put those activities in the corresponding envelope.  The rest, just went in randomly and will even be a surprise to me!


By now, my countdown box was all dry and the metallic inside looked divine, but it was still missing something.  I decided it needed a little title on the top.


I cut some words from vinyl and adhered them directly to the glass:



Perfect.  Final step was just to pop the activity envelopes inside!


I am beyond words excited to start these activities and this new tradition with the family!  I will most likely end up running the activity cards through the laminator to ensure they last year after year, because I hope this is a new tradition that never fizzles!

Anyone else create an advent or holiday countdown for the first time this year, or had you already built one into your holiday tradition years ago?  Who else does an "activity" countdown and what are some of the fun things on your "to do" list?  Feel free to share a link to your own projects, I would heart to see them!



84 comments:

  1. What a cute idea!! I love it- looks like a great tradition to carry on yearly! A friend of mine made an advent calendar for her sister- super adorable- check it out: http://davenportdiy.blogspot.com/2011/11/guest-post-homemade-advent-calendar.html

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  2. I love it!! How fun for you and the family :) Better than a little piece of chocolate each day...

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  3. This is such a great idea! I love how you painted the box. It is so cute and fun.

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  4. Love this. What a great idea. I love the card stock numbers, so pretty! I totally forgot to put the teacher's gift as a card. Great one!

    Here is our advent: http://www.ordinarymom.ca/create/index.php/2011/12/our-advent-calendar/

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  5. This is a great countdown to Christmas idea, and I love your execution! The box is adorable.

    However, can I be a bit geeky-know-it-all? Advent is the name of the liturgical season of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches (and a few other) that marks the beginning of the church calendar and includes the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent was this past Sunday, Nov. 27, and Catholics and Episcopalians began preparing spiritually for the birth of Christ on that day. It's a lovely season of the church, when we sing hymns that yearn for His coming, try to be a little more introspective about how we welcome Him, and light candles and say prayers reminding us of His light in our lives. I've seen a lot of people on Pinterest calling their Holiday Countdowns "Advent Calendars," and while anyone can call things whatever they want, I feel a pull to be one of those people who goes around giving the "correct definition" for some reason. :) Holiday Countdowns are just as valid as Advent Calendars, but they are different. It would be like calling every candlabra a menorah. Different spiritual meanings, know what I mean? :)

    Okay, return to your regularly scheduled Organizing! I LOVE this blog and read you daily, Jen. You have changed my life with your organizing tips and decorating inspiration!

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  6. This is great! Very creative and cute...so awesome how such a little thing can create fun times and memories that last forever! :) Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I absolutely ADORE your blog and love all of your amazing projects and ideas for a beautiful, organized home. I am always inspired! Thank you SO VERY MUCH for the free printables - I love them and am so excited for the advent one!

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  8. I love love love this idea! I'm seriously speechless....I love this!

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  9. Cute project! And I hope it becomes a fun tradition for your family year afer year.

    I know you sell printables on your Etsy shop....do you also sell custom labels (for those of us who don't own a fancy label maker/Silhouette?

    I have a number of projects that are adding up that could use some fancy labels (and I always love yours!). Or trying to decide if a label maker should be on my Christmas wish list, lol.

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  10. I love this idea! I also made a little advent calendar the other day:

    http://domesticfordummies.com/2011/12/diy-advent-calendar.html

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  11. That is darling Jen!! Love it. What a fun tradition for your boys to look forward to every year!

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  12. Super cool Jen and thanks for the freebie:)

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  13. Thanks so much for the cards! I decided to make a holiday countdown this year too. I'm waiting for the little boxes I ordered from Oriental Trading (when there was free shipping with no minimum) and will put similar activities in the boxes. I may put some candy, stickers, money in a few of the boxes but I want the focus to be on the activities and spending time together. I hope the boxes come today!!!

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  14. So darling!! Would LOVE it if you would link this up at my turquoise lovin' party! (and red during the holidays) http://www.sweetlittlegals.com/2011/11/turquoise-lovin-15.html

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  15. I have just recently added your blog to my reader, and I must say this is one of the most refreshing projects I've seen in a long time. I love it! Focus on the real joys in life, time with your family. Happy Holidays!

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  16. Very nice idea. What font did you use for the cards? I really like that one.

    tgrzyb16@yahoo.com

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  17. Such an AMAZING IDEA!! seriously, GENIUS!!!

    Will deff be trying it. Maybe like this It will bring back the christmas spirit were missing in our home!!
    Thanks :)

    Have a great weekend <3
    Simplycamylla.blogspot.com

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  18. What a sweet idea, a great tradition to start:)

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  19. This is my first year using an advent calendar. Last year I made this advent jar inspired by Just a Girl: http://catelinden.com/holidays/christmas-advent-jar/ and I'm so looking forward to doing all of the fun advent activities with my husband and little girl!

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  20. Love this idea! Will have to remember it when I have kids!

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  21. This is such a fabulous idea! I love that its all about DOING stuff with your family too.. not just eating a treat or flipping over a number. I hope this sticks!

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  22. I LOVE this! I've been wanting to make an advent calendar of some sort for my kids. This idea is adorable!

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  23. Love the vinyl on top! Do you remember what font you used for the "holiday"?

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  24. That is just too cute. Well done!

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  25. Such a cute idea! Maybe I will do something like this next year when our son is a bit older and will really enjoy more activities.

    You should take a photo of the family each day doing the activity...then you can add it to the envelope as a keepsake!

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  26. This is amazing Jen love your advent calendar. We do a 12 day one they are so much fun. Hope you have a great weekend my friend.

    Always Wendy

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  27. Sooo cute! I made our Activity Advent Calendar from a mini muffin pan and magnets. We just finished cutting out snowflakes. http://www.sandplums.com/2011/11/23/activity-advent-calendar/

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  28. I started making large canvas advent calendars last year for friends and family. We read a part of the Jesus' birth story each night. Here is the one I made for our family. http://hasbro3.blogspot.com/2010/12/advent-calendar.html

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  29. CA UTE idea!!! It wioll be a wonderful tradition. The box turned out great. It amazes me that you have enough TIME to do that! (make the box). Happy December!!! I haven't gotten an e-mail notice of your posts in a long time. Glad I got this one! XO, Pinky

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  30. We decided to do this as well. We didn't do a box (I LOVE yours though!) just little red and green construction paper envelopes with glitter numbers and notes inside in the form of a clue. We got many of our ideas from a blog but now I can't seem to find the address! They mixed in a few really simple ones: drink sparkling cider with dinner, wear red today, red and green dinner night (everything on the table is red and green). Easy little things for the days that you don't have time for an activity but still so fun and special for the kids:)

    Love your blog!
    Shannon
    www.storiesfromtheshoe.blogspot.com

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  31. This is such a cute amazing idea! I'm not sure my boyfriend would agree to a day without technology though! Xx

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  32. I love the box. I think I'm going to use it for another project. The metallic paint is beautiful!

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  33. These are so so crafty and adorable!! Visit my blog too :)

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  34. So darn cute!! I'm making these for my grandkids right now. Thank you so much for sharing your darling printables, Jen! ♥

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  35. I did this too but sewed one with felt and some cute Christmas colored cotton! I love your box and printable, they look great! We have many of the same activities lined up, I am so excited for each one!

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  36. brilliant!!!!! this is so cute! I bet the boys are going to adore it!

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  37. I love the box idea! I have a cheap advent calendar I got from the Dollar Tree and printed out little cards with activities. Next year when I have more time I will do something more festive like your box. :)

    http://laurascraftylife.blogspot.com/2011/11/advent-calendar-activities.html

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  38. I absolutely love this idea! It's so creative and so sweet! I may need to steal this from you.

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  39. Thanks so much for sharing the cards! They're so cute!

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  40. That's so pretty Jen and won't take up much space. I used some wall space and made a framed baby sock Advent calendar.

    http://www.domesblissity.blogspot.com/2011/12/baby-sock-advent-calendar.html

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  41. Thank you for the super cute & fun Advent activity cards! I simply adore your blog and it is one of my first go-to sites when I start my computer each day. Your family is precious and I so appreciate the endless inspiration you offer. May you and yours have a very Merry Christmas and an extra lovely New Years!
    Angela
    roseait{at}gmail{dot}com

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  42. Love your advent calendar! I was just going to post some on my blog that I made previously for workshops & craft markets. :)

    I have been wanting to make a 12 Days of Activities for my kids this Christmas, so your printables will come in handy for that - thank you!!

    I'd love to share it on my blog, if that's ok?

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  43. Very sweet idea, your kids are so lucky! I gave you a shout out in my blog. I'm new to the blogging world so don't judge ;) But do take a look at the post about you :)

    http://amominstilettos17.blogspot.com/

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  44. Here's my posts on advent activities: http://thesestones.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/the-jesse-tree-and-advent-calendar-ideas/
    and here:
    http://thesestones.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/advent-preparation/
    Love the box and envelopes you did!!
    ~Christine

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  46. I saw this on Pinterest weeks ago and was motivated then to come up with my own ideas....but my motivation fizzled to put them into an actual calendar until now! Where do you find the time to get all these wonderful projects done! You are my hero :)

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  47. Super ....Awesome....Marvellous....Every word in the dictonary can be used to praise your creativity..It liked it...

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  48. Thanks, Jen, for inspiration and the printables!

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  49. Wow! Ours is much simpler and not reusable (and it involved my 3-year-old and a stapler).
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuHLeGjh7LtrdG12akpPNXdabVFORG0tYWFsN0tmNlE

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  50. Really cute! We got our kids Lego advent calendars this year and they are loving them :)

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  51. What a great idea! It looks so festive and I love the cards too.

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  52. Pinned this all over the place!

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  53. You are simply delightful and have such wonderful ideas! I stumbled upon your site through pinterest and now check you out every day! thanks so much for all the wonderful ideas and inspiration that you share!
    Stacie

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  54. Hello! I just want to say "THANKS!" for all of your creative ideas!! I love your blog!

    Mindy Sheikh

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  55. Great Post!! I am a recent admirer of your blog. I hope you don't mind, but I just posted a blog and included you and your blog in it. You can check it out here. If you don't end up liking it, please tell me and I will take it off.
    Your blog is just fantastic.
    http://gtbarbers.blogspot.com/2011/12/recession-rescuing-superwomen.html

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  56. this is brilliant! such a cute idea. really love your blog!

    http://canvasofculture.blogspot.com/

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  57. This looks so awesome!! When I have kids, I want to do something like this (though for now I'm just spoiling my hubs with 24 days of gifts - http://www.hardlyhousewives.com/2011/11/2011-advent-calendar.html)!

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  58. We also do a countdown starting Dec 1st and it has been one of my favorite things of the season! I've used a paper chain so that my son could see the days left more easily but am now ready to make a more permanent display. This is a great idea!

    Some of the things we do (in no order): get out the Christmas dishes; bake and ice cookies; read a Christmas book by the tree; clean the "sleigh" (aka the van so that we have room for gifts and luggage for Christmas with the extended family in Branson); go see lights in our pj's; Christmas movie night.

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  59. Thank you so much for taking the time to share these. I did something similar with my kiddos last Christmas, but wrote the daily activity on a post it note. These are MUCH cuter!

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  60. o wow...very very cute idea!! def may have to make this for my nieces

    infinitelifefintess.com

    http://mscomposure.blogspot.com/

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  61. great idea! i love how it turned out!
    i'm going to need some help w/ the silhoutte! i'm getting it for christmas- i'm beyond excited, but super nervous it'll be hard to use!

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  62. Love this idea! Definitely will be trying this out!!

    You have such a creative blog, I really love it!


    The Urban Umbrella
    xoxo

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  63. Thanks for the idea and the freebie Jen! I have been a tad radical for me (like to be 'just so'), and as time is not on my side I have hand written our 'events/things to do' (on your blank template) and my envelope fronts are not too fancy! I didn't have a box either, so I've popped them all over the Christmas tree!!!
    Can't wait for the boys to get home and see our new family tradition! Thanks again :)

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  64. We are having a blast with this countdown! Thanks so much for the inspiration and the printables!

    http://sunshineontheinside.blogspot.com/2011/12/countdown-calendar-2.html

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  65. Thanks for the free printables!!! I was inspired and my 2yr old daughter and I made our own countdown. Of course it's a bit more traditional, we made a simple paper chain! She decorated the paper strips with markers and stickers and I assembled it. It's on our fridge and a fun family activity to tear off a link each night before bed. Thanks for reminding me how fun countdowns to Christmas are!!

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  66. So creative! I adore this idea!!

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  67. What a fabulous idea!! It turned out super cute.

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  68. Great idea!! I would add... "create holiday cards for our troops" as an activity to do with the family. Or "Ring bells for salvation army" or "serve a meal together at a local homeless shelter" to really get the family involved in the true meanings of Christmas! :)

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  69. Great idea! It looks beautiful.
    You can see our first advent ever here:
    http://daysofbliss365.blogspot.com/2011/12/276365-advent.html

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  70. This is so cute!!! I wish I would have found it sooner this season but I will get started now ans then put it with the items for next year. Thanks so much for sharing it. Love the color too!!!

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  71. I think I am becoming seriously addicted to your blog.... This is a really fun advent idea.

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  72. I absolutely LOVE this idea and your blog!! I've always thought of myself as "organized", but you have given me SO much inspiration to do more and make it colorful and beautiful!! One quick question about the box: Could you tell me what fonts you used for the top?
    Thanks for all of your great ideas!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Megan,
      "Holiday" is done in CK ALIS HAND and "Countdown" is done in Geosans Light.

      xoxo,
      Jen

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  73. I love this! We don't celebrate Christmas, we celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha, and it's impossible to find stuff so we have to make everything ourselves. I love how professional this looks and the idea behind the activities is what our holiday is about; fellowship, generosity and service!

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  74. Hi Jen, I remembered you doing this last year and thinking what a wonderful idea it was. This week we are having an Advent Messy Church session (you can read about Messy Church here http://www.messychurch.org.uk/, it's great fun!) and I thought that one of the crafts families could make together would be a Christmas countdown like this. I have printed off the blank cards and borrowed some of your ideas for them to use if they want. Christmas can be such a busy and stressful time for families I really want to encourage them to spend time together. Thank you for this idea! x

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  75. Hi-I'm trying to type in the blank boxes and I'm not able to save this the right way I guess? I only have it as read only? Is there a certain way I'm supposed to save it to be able to edit it? Thanks!
    Tracy

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  76. Hi Tracy,

    It is intended to be printed and hand-written.

    xo!
    Jen

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  77. I just found your Blog yesterday and wished I would have found you the begining of December! This is SO stinkin' cute and I'm going to get to work making this for next year! :)

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  78. Wonderful goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you are just too excellent. I really like what you've acquired here, really like what you're saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous web site.
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  79. What a cute idea! I love your variation with the Countdown Box. What a great option for those of us tight on space. Thanks for sharing your printables too!

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  80. We haven't done a traditional advent calendar, because we do 25 Days of Giving. Between that, the elf visiting every night, and our put the cotton balls on Santa's bead poster, our event tracking is pretty full. But, we do have tons of fun activities scheduled! They're just not on an advent calendar. Maybe I'll get to it next year--yours is so pretty and fun! Here is a link to our post on our 25 days of giving.
    http://mysemiorganizedlife.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/thanks-and-giving/

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