Such a great tradition for my family to share each Christmas!

How to Make The Ultimate Advent Calendar!

Growing up, my grandparents would mail us advent calendars from the UK. Customs wouldn’t allow chocolate so we got the simple paper flap ones. My grandparents were limited to what they could send us and it was a tradition, but I was always envious of my friends who got a chocolate each day counting down to Christmas or had a more elaborate one. So I wanted my son to have the most amazing Advent Calendar I could think of!!! I made it last year and at 18 months, he enjoyed sticking the decorations on the tree and playing with them. As planned, I completed the other levels of the calendar for this year, now that he’s old enough to enjoy them. Here it is, start to finish!!!

What you will need:

  • A meter of green felt.
  • 1 1/2 meters of white felt (I used a heavy felt so it wouldn’t curl up and I want it to last for years!).
  • Brown felt for the tree stump.
  • White felt for the back of the letter pieces.
  • A variety of colours of felt to make ornaments, pouches, number tags, etc.
  • Rough Velcro (you can buy this on its own by the metre at Fabricland)…enough for 48 squares.
  • Computer, printer, laminating sheets (you can get self laminating sheets at Dollarama if you don’t have access to a laminator).
  • 2 wood dowels, 1/2″ in thickness and 3 feet long
  • Sewing machine and thread matching the colours of your felt.
  • Just over 3ft of twine or rope to hang with.
  • Number stencil if you can’t draw numbers free hand.

I started with some heavy, thick white felt for the background. 3ft wide and 49″ long. I made 2 button holes on the top approximately 3 inches from the sides and 1 3/4 inches from the top (make sure they’ve aligned).

Button Holes

After sewing and cutting the button holes I folded the felt over and sewed it so there was a big enough gap to slide a dowel in. I didn’t slide the dowel in until I was finished so I could maneuver the felt in the sewing machine.

I also folded 1 1/2″ of felt at the bottom and sewed it, leaving a gap for a dowel at the bottom to prevent the advent calendar from rolling up.

From there, I drew and cut out a tree from the green felt so I knew how big to make my ornaments to all fit nicely in the Christmas tree. My tree measures approximately 30.5″ tall and 28″ wide.

From there, I did the fun part, I chose and designed my 24 felt decorations for my son to add to the tree each day leading up to Christmas. If you search for “free felt ornament pattern” in Google or Pinterest you will find 100s! Be sure to add a small square of velcro on the back of each ornament before sewing it together.

After making your ornaments, cut out 24 pieces of different coloured felt for your pouches. 4″ tall and 4 1/2″ wide. Lay your tree and pouches on the felt to see where you want to position them and sew the pouches on, obviously leaving the top open and with a bit of give so your child can put the ornaments and cards in and out with ease.

How to Make an Advent Calendar

I hand stitched my tree on because I wanted the look of big stitches (that’s true love because I hate hand sewing things!!) but you can easily use your machine to sew the stump and tree on.

Now for the numbers pieces. I used a number stencil so they would all be uniform. I traced all the numbers i needed and cut them out. Then I cut out the pieces of felt, 24 white pieces and a variety of colours. Each piece was 2 1/2″ wide and 2″ tall.

I sewed the numbers on the coloured pieces and velcro squares on the white pieces and then sewed the pieces together.

There is it, the felt part of the Advent Calendar is complete! Now for the next levels.

Scripture and Activity Cards

I wrote my own verses for each sheet with the help of some online examples but and here they are if you would like to print them! advent scripture.

Print your scriptures off and then place paper back in printer so your activities will print on opposite side of paper. Here are the Advent Activities I used that will align with the scripture.

Cut out the squares and laminate each one or place in the self laminating sheets.

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

Tie the twine around one end of a dowel and slide through the top. Pull the twine through the button holes and ties it to the other end by pulling the dowel out a bit at the other end. Push the other dowel through at the bottom.

Each year, on November 30th, your child can choose where each number goes on the pouches. Match the number on the scripture sheet to each pouch number and place inside. Choose which ornament goes in which pouch (I like the star to go in 24).

Each day after that, your child can search for the correct number pouch and pull out the ornament inside and choose where to place it on the tree. Together you can read the scripture and talk about the true meaning of Christmas and then plan to do the activity on the other side together as a family. I’m am so excited to carry this tradition on with my son this year!

The Ultimate Advent Calendar with detailed instructions and free printables

If you are going to make this Ultimate Advent Calendar, make sure you give yourself enough time to make each ornament, depending on how detailed you want them, they can take some time!

30 FREE things to do in and around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do with Your Kiddos In & Around Calgary

30 FREE Things to Do IN & AROUND CALGARY!
Summer is almost over, we’ve been lucky to have some great weather but there’s still a few weeks left before you send the kiddos back to Daycare, Preschool or School. Here are some great things you can do in or around Calgary, Alberta that won’t cost you a thing!

  1. Spend a morning at a Playground…there are SO many around the city, branch out from your local one!
  2. Cool off in a Splash Park…you don’t have to be a community members for a number of them such as Okotoks, Valleyview Regional Park, etc.
  3. Take a short drive south to the Saskatoon Farm…there is a nice short walk looking over the valley, you can walk around the grounds and check out all the different plants and there’s a small farm where the kids can watch the chickens, turkeys, rabbits and pig.
  4. Drive out to the mountains and go on a child friendly hike in the Rockies.
  5. SouthCentre Mall’s new ROAR Play Park.
  6. Go for a walk or bike ride in Fish Creek Park.
  7. Pack a picnic and head to Edward H. Laborde Airplane Watching Area or Prairie Winds Park to watch the planes land and take off near the airport.
  8. Head downtown to the Devonian Gardens…listen to a talented musician playing the grand piano, watch the fish or play on the indoor playground.
  9. Take a free ride on the CTrain in the FreeZone downtown.
  10. Go for a swim at Sikome Lake in Fish Creek Park.
  11. Check out the stables at Spruce Meadows.
  12. Go to Canada Olympic Park…sit in the Jamaican bobsled and watch a real bobsled go down the track starting at 1pm.
  13. Register for a free tour of the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary.
  14. Go for a walk through Nose Hill Park.
  15. Watch a 45 minute demonstration at the R.C.M.P. Dog Training Centre every Wednesday afternoon at 2pm. (Location: Take Exit 365 off Hwy 2 at Innisfail, travel east and follow the signs.)
  16. Check out Readers Rock Garden.
  17. Register at http://www.kidsbowlfree.com for 2 free bowling games for your kiddos!
  18. If you have your own rod (with a barbless hook) you can catch and release trout at Bow Habitat Station Trout Pond. $5 to rent a rod.
  19. Take advantage of the free workshops offered at local hardware stores such Home Depot or Lowes.
  20. Drive out to the Big Rock just south of Okotoks and explore this erratic that gave Okotoks it’s name.
  21. Head down to Chinook Honey Farm…parents sample some mead and the cute gift shop while the kids explore the hive and search for the queen bee.
  22. Go for a swim in the Bow at Sandy Beach.
  23. Walk around a pet store and see all the different animals.
  24. Explore Princes Island.
  25. Pack a picnic and check out some of the amazing parks that Calgary has to offer.
  26. Splash around in one of Calgary’s wading pools.
  27. Spend some time at Edworthy Park, Shillington Crescent Park or Lions Park playing on the playgrounds and watching the trains that routinely pass by.
  28. Visit a library and read some new books or take advantage of the free programs that they offer.
  29. Check out the cool trains and learn about Canada’s grain industry at the Grain Academy & Museum.
  30. Spend a morning in North Glenmore Park and watch the variety of boats on the reservoir or take a walk (partially) around the reservoir.

Travelling with Toddlers…Survival Tips…You Can Do This!!


Looking back, travelling with a baby was a piece of cake compared to travelling with a toddler. Babies aren’t mobile, babies don’t need constant snacks and entertainment, babies aren’t newly potty trained. Toddlers are a whole new ball game.

The most important thing to survive travelling with a toddler is still the same, you have to be prepared.

The Car…

I have lots of travel friendly activities for toddlers in my Etsy Shop. Below is one of the many Airplane Tray Covers which also fits over a cookie sheet for your child to play with while in the car. If they want a change you can also bring some magnets for them to stick on the cookie sheet but that works better if someone is sitting next to them as they can drop the magnets and you won’t be able to reach them while you’re driving.

Survival Tips: Travelling with a Toddler

I also sell Felt boards which are light and easy to carry and fit perfectly on a child’s lap!

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I always pack easy snacks like Fruit To Gos to pass back to my son in the car. We have a few Children’s Cds handy which is his favourite, insisting that everyone sings and dances…again and again and again. We play a simple version of I Spy, pointing out all the cool tractors and trucks we see, different birds and animals…dogs going for a walk, squirrels, etc. We talk about when the light is red it means stop and green means go. I find that as long as my son is getting attention he is happy in the car.

For really long car rides, I have found that it’s best to drive through the night. If your child is potty trained but still wearing diapers then it’s not an issue because they normally associate wearing pyjamas with a diaper and you don’t have to worry about accidents or stopping every half hour! We drove 1300kms when our son was 22 months old, we left just before supper, had a late dinner on the road and then he passed out and slept the rest of the way. When we stopped for gas, bathroom breaks and to let our dogs out he did wake up and was disoriented and upset but it didn’t take long for him to calm down and fall back asleep.

If your child is potty training, no matter what distance you travel, I found this great idea on Pinterest, I just picked up the fabric to make it so I will let you know how it goes in a later post! We had a bad day of potty training last week, he soaked the water proof mat I normally fold into his car seat and then had another accident on the way home. It was not fun taking everything apart, hand washing the cover and air drying it in time to go out the next morning. This Piddle Paddle will be a life saver!

Flying…

Before you board, no strollers, you need to burn off your child’s energy the best you can. If you’re not travelling alone, one of you take care of your things while the other follows your toddler around. If there’s space, let them run. Watch planes take off, find a kid’s play area. You are about to expect them to sit still for at least an hour which never goes down well with a toddler so you need to help tire them out the best they can. It’s also great if you’re able to book your flight around their nap time but that’s not always possible for long haul flights. If you are travelling alone, pack your stroller with your belongings, park it where you can keep an eye on it and let your child run around!

Your child is mobile and does not want to sit on your lap. If they’re still under 2 and you chose the free option of sharing a seat with them you will have to convince them to sit still….a.k.a. bribe and distract! Really it’s awful to bribe children because they will only manipulate it and up the ante, what I mean is make it worth while for them to stay. Some ideas…

…snacks, airplane tray cover, felt board, finger puppets, books, 5-10 pieces of Duplo, Colouring, Tablet.

I see loads of cool ideas of what people take for their toddlers to play with on a plane but be mindful, seats are crowded together and your toddler will drop things. You do not want to bring a bunch of activities with little pieces that you are constantly crouched on the floor trying to find.

A cool idea I found that worked was buy a Weekly Pill Container and fill it with different snacks, depending on your child’s age and fine motor skills they can open the individual compartments or point to the one they want opened. They take a piece out, you close it again and it spreads out the snack!

Again, be aware of Bathroom locations, if you’re changing diapers, know which bathroom has a change table and ask flight attendant for a few baggies. My last flight, the only bathroom with a change table was out of order and I had to change my toddler’s diaper on the floor at the front of the plane, not fun! But we survived.

Happy Travelling!

If you missed it, be sure to check out my post on Surviving Travel with a Baby!

Travelling with Babies…Survival tips…family Holidays don’t have to be a Nightmare!

I’ve talked about travelling with toddlers before but wanted to go more in depth about travelling with babies and young children. Today I will be focusing on newborns and young babies, stay tuned for toddlers and young children later in the week!

Fact: Travelling with a baby is possible. You have to be organized, but you can do it.

You’re on maternity leave, you have a new baby you want to spend time together as a family and perhaps show off your new bundle of joy to friends and family who don’t live nearby. Your baby is free to fly, you get a free upgrade (for one passenger) to the front row of the plane with extra leg room so you can use the bassinet on overseas flights. You get special attention. Why wouldn’t you want to travel with a baby???

My husband and I travelled from Alberta, Canada to Spain and all over the UK when our son was 6 weeks old and guess what, we survived and plan on doing it again with our next child! Here is my wisdom passed from me to you.

I obsessively stressed and over planned for our trip. We got to the airport, checked in our luggage and we were waiting at the gate to board our flight to Heathrow Airport. I had a backpack on, a diaper bag over my shoulder, and was carrying our infant son. My husband had removed the car seat from our stroller and had placed it in our car seat flight carrier to protect it and was wearing it as a giant backpack. He had my nursing pillow around his neck like a giant flight pillow. He had another carry on bag and our stroller. A woman was watching us, she said, “your first flight with a baby? You’ll learn to travel lighter next time.” She smiled sympathetically but didn’t offer to help.

That was great advice although we also learned from experience. I was glad to have the nursing pillow as I could lie our son on it when he wouldn’t settle in the bassinet, it made nursing easier and I enjoyed having it on our holiday. What I would’ve changed…just because you’re allowed 2 pieces of carry on luggage each, plus an extra one for your baby does not mean you have to use them all! Try to limit the amount you have to juggle after you fold up your stroller or lose your luggage cart.

When you travel with a baby, you are given priority boarding. We had plenty of time to organize our things while I propped our son on the seat with the nursing pillow. I had prepared a few bags with candy and ear plugs in and I now sell them in my Etsy Shop for your convenience!

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These went over so well! Everyone thought they were so cute and such a nice idea. It broke the ice and everyone was understanding when my son became fussy. I sell these 3 packs for $5.00, by the time you hit up the shops that sell these items, pay for items in quantities that they’re sold in, print off a message and put them all together, it’s worth saving yourself the time and hassle and allow me to do the work for you! 🙂

After we were settled in and the flight attendants were going around doing their checks, they will come and explain everything you need to know about travelling with your baby. Every airline is different. Some want you to hold your baby up against you during take off and landing, however, most are open to you nursing and holding your baby securely as nursing your baby or encouraging them to suck on a bottle or soother helps relieve discomfort in their ears. Some airlines have an extra baby seatbelt that attaches to yours but I have only seen this in Europe, I was still able to nurse our son while he was wearing it. They should also offer you a bag to dispose your diaper in in the bathroom garbage and point out which bathrooms are equipped with change tables. If they don’t offer a bag, ask them for a few, because if your baby is going to have explosive poop after explosive poop, you can bet it will be while you are conveniently located 30,000ft in the air!

This was my reality…your baby has pooped, the seatbelt sign is on, it smells. You wait and wait. The seatbelt sign finally turns off. You grab your diaper changing items (that you’ve packed in a small convenient bag because there isn’t a lot of room on airplane bathrooms!) and you head for the bathroom with a change table. There’s a line. You are now holding your smelly baby inches from people’s faces. You’re humiliated, it stinks.

This has happened to me and it’s not fun. Don’t be afraid to ask people if you can jump the line to save everyone from suffocating or talk to a flight attendant, they’re usually very understanding and helpful and might even be able to give you a heads up when the seatbelt sign is about to switch off so you can jump in line first.

On our flight home, our son was 9 weeks old at this point, I had a nasty virus and was throwing up all over security. Thankfully they still let me fly but I was completely out of it and my poor husband had to juggle all of our things as well as our son because I was too dizzy to hold him. Everyone was so helpful. I slept the entire flight, we didn’t have any formula or pumped milk with us so my husband would nudge me and place our son on the nursing pillow I kept around me and I would subconsciously nurse our son. Again, the flight attendants and other passengers were very helpful, people are kind and you can’t be afraid to accept help.

Travelling with a baby is work, you need to be on the ball, you don’t get to sit with your headphones on and watch all the inflight movies you used to look forward to. The reality is that most people have family scattered all over the world these days and travelling with a young baby is often necessary. If you’re organized and prepared, I promise you, you will survive it!

Travelling with a Toddler

$25.00CDN for 1 sided $40.00CDN for double sided

here’s hoping for smooth travels with a toddler!!!

This is my 3rd airplane activity tray cover and I think the 11th flight with my little guy.  We go very prepared and so far (touch wood!!) he’s been pretty good.  I made this with my little guy in mind, he loves vehicles, especially buses! Whenever he sees anything to do with hockey he yells “GO GO GO!”. He loves dinosaurs and animals…especially if they roar and he loves playing peek-a-boo.

I make these custom to order in my Etsy Shop, I usually need about 2 weeks to complete and I love to make them as personal as possible for each individual child.  They are $30.00CDN for one sided covers or $50.00CDN for double sided as shown above.

My son will be testing this one out on our flight to Mexico in March, I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂 Fingers crossed!