13 Nov Everlasting Advent Calendar
Do you remember an abiding delight in Advent calendars as a child, a delight that was never quite justified by the specific advent calendar in question? If the image on the calendar was beautiful then it often ended up being increasingly dis-improved by the opening of the little doors, which spoilt the picture. Often the pictures behind those doors were rather disappointing, or anyway random and unrelated to any grand scheme. The chocolate advent calendar, that sinfully luxurious innovation of our youth, and one which, I have to confess, I still find rather shocking, is gratifying in the instant and ever more hideous as Christmas approaches and the picture becomes pockmarked with the horrid empty plastic holes from which the chocolates have been extracted.
Only one calendar of my experience ever lived up fully to its promise: a wonderful German street scene in which shutters and doors opened one by one to reveal the Christmas preparations going on inside the houses and shops. On Christmas Eve the biggest doors, the doors of the church, opened to reveal the Nativity. It was totally satisfying in every way save one: it could only be used once. All good Christmas activities should at least have the potential to become traditions, and be carried out in exactly the same way year upon year.. (Actually, I did reuse that calendar for a while, even though the doors and windows, carefully re-closed after Christmas and placed under a pile of heavy books for the rest of the year, never regained a fully convincing closed-ness, and would swing open by themselves off schedule.)
So we conceived the idea of an Advent Calendar that not only becomes more beautiful, more Christmassy and perfect, over the course of the 24 days, but that also can be reused year after year. It had to be made of paper and card, partly because that’s our thing, and partly because the humbleness of the calendar seems to us to be important. (All those ingenious calendar alternatives involving minute presents in banks of little numbered drawers, or strings of tiny knitted wooden stockings, are very sweet— but aren’t they a Christmas treat in their own right, rather than the building anticipation of treats to come?)
After an incredibly fun year of experimentation, here it is. Our Advent Tree starts out stark and wintry and bereft of leaves.
On each December day a decoration is added, first baubles and hearts, then stars, finally birds and deer, so that as Christmas nears the tree becomes progressively more decorated. The decorations are die-cut from 600 gsm card, printed in pretty reds and pinks, soft greys and browns, and with touches of gold foil.
On December 24th you place the big gold star on the topmost branch: the tree is decorated and Christmas can begin.
When Christmas is over the decorations slide out of their slots and they and the tree can be put away in their handsome box, ready for next year.
The calendar is printed in vegetable oil-based, environmentally-friendly inks on uncoated Forest Stewardship Council-certified card. If one use is enough, both the calendar and the box it comes in can be composted or recycled. But of course we hope that the Advent Tree will become an integral part of people’s Christmas preparations and rituals and be used many times. You can find the Advent Calendar for sale in the Christmas section of our Shop.