DIY Nativity Advent Tree

Last Christmas, I was determined to find the perfect Advent calendar to use with Stella and, when I didn’t run across exactly what I had in mind, I gave up the hunt and used a vintage cardboard one that I purchased a few years ago, like this one:


I think  it’s adorable, and it will continue to be a part of my Christmas decor, but it just isn’t quite what I had in mind for an Advent calendar. I wanted something that would be more interesting to a young child; something that Stella would be excited to do every day. I also wanted something that told the story of Christmas.

My mom sent me a link to this Kathy’s Primitives Advent Tree on Zulily and I completely fell in love with the idea of decorating a small tree with a new ornament each day as we counted down the days to Christmas! However, this one was a little on the pricey side and didn’t tell the story of Christmas, so I set out to make my own.


I decided to hit up Hobby Lobby while all of their Christmas decorations were 50% off to stock up on my supplies. I found a small tree and tree skirt, a set of tiny nativity ornaments, bead garland, a star for the top of the tree, and some tiny presents.

24 items to countdown to Christmas! (The first day will be the tree, so there are 25 things total.)

24 items to countdown to Christmas! (The first day will be the tree, so there are 25 things total.)

Mini silver tree!

Mini silver tree!

I remembered a tutorial I saw a while back for a toilet paper tube advent calendar, and I thought it would be perfect for this. My ornaments were just the right size to fit in a toilet paper tube, plus it would be inexpensive since I already had the supplies! I happened to have almost enough empty toilet paper tubes stocked up to complete my project, but I needed a few more and didn’t want to wait.  It turns out that you can, in fact, remove the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper while keeping the roll intact! I know you were dying to know that.

Tubeless toilet paper rolls! ;-)

Tubeless toilet paper rolls! 😉

I covered my cardboard tubes with scrapbook paper, folded the ends in to make little “pillow boxes,” attached a number with some string, and dropped the ornaments inside! Easy!

Toilet paper tube Advent calendar.

Toilet paper tube Advent calendar.

Close up of the pillow boxes.

Close up of the pillow boxes.

I haven’t decided how to store/display them yet, but I think I will do something with a picture frame like the tutorial I linked above. They would also be cute just sitting a basket.

I will probably make something more durable and permanent later, like the Kathy’s Primitives box that sparked this idea, but this project was fun, easy, inexpensive, and definitely good enough for now! I’m so excited to show this to Stella and start using it come December!

Ball Pit Fun!

Lately, Stella has been really interested in throwing, catching, and rolling balls.  She throws them all around the playroom and walks or crawls after them, often giggling.  I was thinking of ways to expand on her interest and I remembered seeing a baby pool ball pit over at Play at Home Mom a long while ago.  I jumped on Amazon Prime and ordered a small inflatable baby pool and a set of 100 ball pit balls! I set it up in the playroom last night and Stella discovered it this morning.  She was thrilled, to say the least.  It’s pretty much the only thing we played with all morning.

She would wave her hands through the balls and say, “Splash!” as if she remembers splashing in a pool like this last summer! (I wouldn’t put it past her — this girl amazes me with her memory every single day!)

She would wave her hands through the balls and say, "Splash!" as if she remembers splashing in the pool last summer!

She laid down and told me she was going “night night” in the ball pit. LOL 🙂

She said she wanted to go "night night" in the ball pit. LOL :-)

I plan to add items like ramps and tubes to the ball area in the playroom soon (or on a larger scale outside) to expand on her interest even more, so stay tuned! 🙂

DIY “Little Helper Stand”

I’m continually amazed by my husband’s ability to make pretty much anything 🙂  Check out this awesome Little Helper Stand he made for Stella so she can stand safely at the counter to help with things she loves to help with like cooking, washing dishes, making coffee, and other fun activities.  He found the plans in the October/November 2013 issue of Handy Magazine.

Side view of the stand.

Side view of the stand. It is adjustable so we can continue to use it as she grows taller.

Back view.

Back view. Excuse my messy countertop 😉