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Modern DIY Advent Calendar

Make your own modern DIY advent calendar from Dollar Store supplies. This easy DIY project will last for years to come!

DIY advent calendar with text overlay

Dollar Store DIY projects and Christmas are two of my favorite things. I love making expensive looking decor for just a little bit of money and Christmas decor is no exeception. Advent calendars are a fun and thoughtful way to countdown the days until Christmas. I knew I could make my own and when I found these little travel jars at the Dollar Tree, I knew immediately how I would use them. They came in a set of three and I got 24 of these guys (8 packs of 3), so I could make my own modern DIY advent calendar.

travel containers from the Dollar Store

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How to Make a DIY Advent Calendar

Supplies Needed

Let’s make an advent calendar!

Step-by-step Tutorial

I started with a scrap piece of MDF. It took a little while to figure out what height and width I needed. I ended up making it 10.5 inches wide and 15 inches tall. I wanted to make this DIY advent calendar into a house shape, so I found the middle, drew a line straight up, and then used my square to draw the roof line of the house.

Next I added a little chimnbey, using a scrap piece of wood as a template. You don’t have to do this step – it is harder to cut that one piece out, so you can skip that one if it doesn’t work for your house. Once I had all of the measurements drawn out, I did put my little containers back on to make sure that they would fit nicely once I had everything cut.

Then I used the table saw to cut the house shape out of the MDF. If you’re cutting out the chimney, I recommend using a jig saw instead, which is a much better tool for the job as it allows you to do more intricate cuts.

I couldn’t find our jig saw so I used the table saw, but it left some gaps on the back side that I had to fill with putty before I painted the whole house.

The next thing I did was draw out a grid to know exactly where to place all of my little containers. I left about an inch at the bottom and then put each plastic container an inch and a half apart. If you aren’t as precise as I am, you could eyeball this. I wanted to be really exact and have everythng look perfectly in line.

Once I had the grid drawn, I used each of the spots where the lines intersect to pre-drill holes for the containers. Then, I used a small drill bit to drill holes in the bottom of the plastic containers, so that they would be ready to attach to the board.

You could also use a strong craft glue to attach the containers, but I wasn’t sure how long would last. Since I put all the effort in, I really wanted this DIY advent calendar to last for years.

I spray painted the whole thing with a couple of coats of black spray paint so that the white containers would really pop against it. Once it was dry, I reassembled it all, Making sure to drill the plastic pieces tightly onto the board so that we’d be able to screw and unscrew the lids.

spray painting DIY advent calendar with black spray paint

Finally I used Dollar Store stickers to add the dates onto all of the individual circles. To be honest, these stickers did not stay on very well. I actually had to glue some of them down and I’ll probably replace all of them next year. They didn’t stick on perfectly, but they worked for the time being! I would probably use these number stickers instead next time.

black number stickers for DIY advent calendar

And finally, I topped off the house with a wreath from the Dollar Store DIY I did last year. I am in LOVE with this DIY advent calendar!

modern DIY advent calendar shaped like a house

Advent Calendar Activity Ideas

We wrote a whole bunch of activities on papers and put them into the slots with a single chocolate for my kids to take turns opening. We’ve done activity advent calendars for a few years now, so if you need help coming up with activity ideas, here’s 50 of our favourites:

  • Build a snowman
  • Make Christmas cookies
  • Do a Christmas craft
  • Open a Christmas present (if your family does that on Christmas Eve)
  • Go ice skating/play a game of hockey
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Drive/walk around looking at Christmas lights
  • Read a Christmas story
  • Build a gingerbread house
  • Host a Christmas party (whenever we can again!)
  • Buy gifts to donate
  • Make Christmas cards
  • Make hot cocoa
  • Wrap Christmas gifts
  • Make snow angels
  • Decorate the Christmas tree
  • Go shopping with Mom of Dad for the other person’s gift
  • Make ornaments as a family
  • Make Christmas bark
  • Donate food or pantry items to the food bank
  • Hang up some mistletoe (& kiss under it!)
  • Go see Santa Claus
  • Make snow globes
  • Colour Christmas pictures
  • Have a snowball fight
  • Go tobogganing with Dad
  • Play a family game
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Sing Christmas carols
  • Make nuts & bolts (one of our family recipes!)
  • Go to the Santa Claus parade
  • Deliver Christmas cookies to friends/family
  • Dance to Christmas music
  • Call Grandma and Grandpa to sing carols
  • Do random acts of kindness
  • Visit a live nativity
  • Volunteer at a community event
  • Attend your child’s Christmas concert/recital
  • Decorate cookies
  • Go skiing
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Make a gift for a family member or friend
  • Bundle up and go for a wintery walk
  • Take Family Christmas photos
  • Make a popcorn garland (or any garland!)
  • Relax by the fire with Christmas music
  • Make Christmas “cookies” with playdough and cookie cutters
  • Read “The Night Before Christmas”
  • Make “reindeer food”
  • Attend a Christmas service
advent activity slips with chocolate kisses
unscrewing the lid from the container on the DIY advent calendar
container with lid off on advent calendar
pulling advent activity paper slip
Bake Christmas Cookies written on slip of paper

This piece is amazing and durable and will last us for years to come. The best part is it only cost a few dollars to make!

How to Make a Modern DIY Advent Calendar

Watch the video below as I make this Dollar Store DIY and 5 other fun Christmas decor projects from supplies I got at the Dollar Store!

More Christmas Decor Ideas

Modern DIY Advent Calendar

Modern DIY Advent Calendar

Yield: 1 Modern DIY Advent Calendar
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $10

Make your own modern DIY advent calendar from Dollar Store supplies. This easy DIY project will last for years to come!


  • Scrap MDF
  • Travel jars from the Dollar Store
  • Black number stickers from the Dollar Store
  • Black spray paint


  • Table Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Drill


  1. Measure and mark your MDF in the shape of a house that is 10.5 inches wide and 15 inches tall.
  2. Cut out house shape using a table saw.
  3. Draw a grid leaving an inch along the bottom and placing containers an inch and a half apart.
  4. Drill holes for containers to be attached then spray paint the entire thing black.
  5. Add black numbers to the lids of the containers for each date of the month.
  6. Attach plastic containers, add advent activity slips and chocolate kisses and it's ready!

Shreya @ The Creatives Hour

Friday 10th of December 2021

Amazing craft work. Simply mind blowing;) Thanks for the post.

Fran Sawyer

Sunday 28th of November 2021

Hello, You said leave them 1,5 inch apart but the link shows containers that are 2 inch wide. Were yours smaller?


Wednesday 1st of December 2021

Mine were from the Dollar store, the link was the only similar containers I could find. If you can only find the 2" you could just wake the calendar slightly bigger.

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