Youngsters can hardly contain their excitement this time of year. But you can, with a fun-filled advent calendar
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shoe organizer advent calendar hanging on wall

Before you begin, cover the work surface with newspaper to protect it from stray markings. Press each compartment well with an iron to remove wrinkles and creases. Once prepped for stenciling, it's a good idea to place a piece of scrap cardboard inside the bag (this creates a flat surface and prevents the paint from seeping through). When stenciling, apply stencil to the compartment, and press to adhere. Let dry for a few minutes, then carefully peel off stencil. Once removed, wipe repeating number stencils clean with a damp paper towel before reusing. (A clean stencil lets you see the fabric underneath more clearly, which makes it easier to ensure you're leaving a clean, even design.)

(Also pictured: Ann Clark Cookie Cutters Christmas set, $20 for 11,; Pick a Toy wooden paddle-ball set, $12,; Toysmith pickup-sticks game, $10,; Animal Alley stuffed Labrador, $35,; ImagiKnit Holiday Fa La La La Llama spatula, $10,; Yulia Kochevykh felted finger puppets, from $14 each,; The Penguin Gift Shop Fun Flapping Penguin pen, $4,; Cambridge Chocolates mustache lollipops, $3.25 each,; Gotham Chocolates Wild bar, $9,

For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of handmade advent calendars.


What you need


How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Stencil numbers onto a 24-pair canvas hanging shoe bag; let dry completely. (Tip: Customize the countdown to your family's celebration: Do all 24 pre-Christmas days of December, or trim off a few rows to encompass Hanukkah's eight nights.)

Step 2

Stuff some compartments with wrapped gifts, and filled the rest with supplies for holiday merriment. (The ninth, for instance, holds kid-size utensils for a cookie-baking spree they'll love looking forward to.)


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