diy · Holidays & Crafts · Home Decor

Gingerbread House Advent Calendar DIY

This mom is obsessed with Advent calendars or really any sort of Christmas countdown. Every year my kids mark the days until Christmas by adding fluff to Santa’s beard, moving a magnet on a metal countdown calendar, unwrapping one book each day (thanks, grandma) or by opening an Advent calendar. In the past I have used felt calendars with a pocket for each day, and more recently a large plastic Play School advent calendar house. I would fill the slots with tiny gifts, money and candy.

Well, this year I decided to change it up and make my own Advent calendar. Something that wouldn’t look out of place with the rest of my holiday decor, and could also fit more than a few pieces of chocolate or money. I perused Pinterest and fell in love with the cardboard gingerbread house countdowns; however, after a few failed Google searches I could not figure out where to buy the little boxes. I finally stumbled across a tutorial for decorating paper lunch bags to look like gingerbread boxes to use as wrapping paper, and decided to combine the two ideas into one marvelous Advent calendar. Instructions to make your own are below!


  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushed
  • Hole punch
  • Tape
  • String/twine
  • Advent calendar gifts


Lay a paper bag face down on a flat surface. Fold the top right corner into the center of the paper bag, then do the same to the top left corner. They should meet in the center and form a point; kind of like the beginning of a paper airplane. But it’s your roof!

This will give your a tall house. For shorter houses, fold the top of the bag toward the bottom once or twice before folding in the corners to form the roof.

With the bag still folded, flip the bag over to see the shape of your house. Using your paint, decorate the house. Add windows, a door, shingles, icicles, etc. Get as fancy as your want. You could even add glitter or sequins. Be sure to leave a spot to paint a number for the Advent calendar. Let dry.

Repeat This painting process, adding a different number to each house. I created 24 houses, one for each day in December but ending on Christmas Eve (we have way too much going on to remember that last day).

You could do however many you want. 25, 12, 10, etc. One to open each day (my kids have a rotation.

Once dry, unfold the corners and open the bag. Drop in your gift/note and fold the roof back in place.

Use your hole punch to two holes in the top of the bag. One in each folded roof corner/flap.

Cut a piece of string and put it through both holes, and tie it into a bow in the front.

Do this with all of the houses until all are filled and tied.

Now it’s time to hang them. Punch a third hole just below the point of the roof. Attach a long piece of string to the top of the house by tying a knot. Attach the other end of the string to a fixture of your choice. I chose my blanket ladder but you could use a staircase railing, mantel, a Christmas tree, etc.

Once all are hung take a step back and admire your handy-work. It will look beautiful and whimsical and will surely delight your children this holiday season!

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