DIY Silhouette Advent Calendar
(Christmas in July!)
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A couple of years ago, I bought my first Silhouette Portrait when it was on sale for Black Friday. I was excited about having a smaller machine that would be easier to travel with, but I was even MORE excited about one of the bonus items that came with it – an Advent Calendar, pre-assembled and ready to personalize.
As excited as I was, however, I didn’t get the Advent Calendar made that year…or even the next. Each Christmas I always have more ideas of things I want to make than time will allow and so the calendar kit just sat on a shelf, patiently waiting to come to life. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who excitedly buys supplies and then just stashes them away…)
Fast forward to now. When I saw the Advent Calendar listed as part of Silhouette America’s Christmas in July sale – at a savings of 50% – I knew it was time to pull out my kit and get it done. And now that I’ve made it, I really wish I hadn’t waited so long!
Update 11/18/21: The Advent Calendar Kit is currently on sale for $11.99 at Silhouette America during their Holiday Sale. Find it here.
Choosing Your Designs
There are oodles of ways you can decorate the Advent Calendar using a Cameo, Portrait, or Curio machine (with the large base).
The kit comes with a download card for six different sets of cut files:
- Box Faces – includes 2 different styles of box faces (with and without tabs), numbers (in 3 different font styles), and various accent pieces.
- Box – cut file for the triangle shaped boxes in case you need a replacement or want yours to be a color other than white
- Background Scenes – 4 separate designs that include cut files for a Santa scene, Snowman scene, Sleigh scene, or Nativity scene.
Depending on the papers and decorations you choose, you can even use it for other holidays. I chose to use my Cameo 4 and go the traditional route to decorate mine for Christmas in shades of red, green, and gold.
Here are the supplies I used:
- Patterned cardstock paper (something similar to this)
- Solid cardstock in red & green
- Printable gold foil
- White cardstock
- Optional – Glitter Spray Paint and Spray Sealer
- Art Glitter Glue
- Xyron Creative Station
- Foam Adhesive Dots
- Washi Tape
Setting up the Cut Files & Cutting Your Materials
Let’s start with the box faces. When you open up the file in Studio, you’ll see this:
You could use the large group of box faces if cutting all your pieces from one pattern/color of cardstock, but it will require some rearranging since it’s over 12 inches tall. In my opinion, this part of the cut file is more useful for figuring out which accent pieces you want to use and where, sort of like a mock-up. To cut a variety of colors/patterns, you’ll need to use the individual triangles and duplicate as needed.
I chose 5 different patterns from a Christmas paper pad I had on hand (similar to this one) and cut 6 box faces from each pattern. With 30 triangles, I knew I’d have enough to play with the arrangement of patterns, mixing and matching until I found a combination I liked. To make things as easy and efficient as possible, I cut all the triangles at once. I trimmed a 9-inch x 3-inch section from each piece of patterned paper and laid them all out on the mat like this:
Then I set up my file in Silhouette Studio to match the arrangement of the paper.
- Ungroup the original Box Face cut file.
- Select one individual box face (triangle). (I used the ones without the tabs.)
- Copy and paste the triangle to a new design page.
- Duplicate the triangle and rotate the copy by 180 degrees.
- Nudge both triangles closer together to save space.
- Select both triangles and copy/paste 2 times, for a total of 6 triangles.
- Group the triangles together and copy/paste as many times as needed.
You’ll want to use a sharp blade and a mat that’s relatively new (smooth and free from debris) but not too sticky. (I really like the Light Tack mat for cardstock and paper.) As with almost all of my paper projects, I used the Cardstock, Textured – Heavy (80 lb.) cut settings:
Blade = 3
Force = 30
Speed = 4
Passes = 1
I wanted the accent pieces behind my numbers to be a combination of red and green. This meant I would need to cut one solid background piece and one border for each design I used and cut enough to make at least 25 accent pieces. As with the box faces, I cut extra so I could experiment with the arrangement on the Advent Calendar before making a final decision on the design.
- Select the accent design(s) you want to use from the original Box Face file.
- Copy and paste the design(s) to a new design page.
- Duplicate the design(s).
- Select the copy and ungroup.
- Delete the center section to create a solid piece for the background. The original design is the border.
I cut both pieces from solid color cardstock using the Cardstock, Textured – Heavy (80 lb.) setting.
Select your desired font from the Box Faces file or create your own set of numbers using a font of your choice. I cut numbers 1-25 from Printable Gold Foil using the preset for Foil, Printable.
Blade = 5
Force = 35
Speed = 5
Passes = 1
Each background scene has a total of 10 sections – five for the top and five for the bottom. To set up the cut files:
- Open the desired scene in Studio.
- Select the design and ungroup but DO NOT MOVE ANYTHING yet.
- Carefully select all pieces of one section and group them together.
- Repeat for the remaining sections.
- Move the section to be cut onto the virtual mat and place the other sections in the grey holding area.
- When one section is cut, move it into the grey holding area and move the next section(s) to be cut onto the virtual mat.
By rotating the top sections, you can fit two on one sheet of letter-sized cardstock. If you are using 12×12 cardstock, you can fit one top section and one bottom section on one sheet of cardstock.
I used plain white cardstock for my background pieces and cut them using the Cardstock, Textured – Heavy (80 lb.) setting. Be careful when removing the cardstock from the mat as well as any excess cardstock from the design – the scenes are very detailed and delicate!
Once the background pieces were cut, I decided to add some sparkle using glitter spray paint. (If I’d had enough glitter cardstock on hand I might have used it instead of plain white but I like the results I got with the glitter spray paint.) Once the paint dried, I used a spray sealer to further protect the glitter.
Putting It All Together
I started by gluing the two parts of the accent pieces together using Art Glitter Glue.
Then I played around with the arrangement of patterned paper and coordinating accent pieces. Once I was satisfied, I took a picture for reference. (And believe me, I referred to this photo a LOT when I was putting the pieces together!)
Time to add the numbers! Printable Gold Foil is a specialty sticker paper, so this part was simply “peel & stick”.
I arranged my numbered boxes from left to right in sequential order but you may want to arrange yours like the photo below so that when each box is removed there’s no chance of its neighboring box tipping over. It’s totally up to you!
My Xyron Creative Station worked perfectly for the box faces. I used foam adhesive dots to add the accents and numbers, which gave the Advent Calendar even more dimension.
If you’d like to know more about choosing the right adhesive for your paper projects, check out this post.
To create the background scene, all I had to do was fold the edges of each section along the scorelines and then stick the tabs into the slots in the Advent Calendar base. Each section is numbered so it’s very easy to know which one to place first – just start with number 1 and work your way back.
Adding some coordinating washi tape to the sides was an easy way to finish it off!
Like what you see here? Share the image below to Pinterest!
I love how my Advent Calendar turned out and I can’t wait to start using it come December! And who knows, maybe it’s the start of me getting even more Christmas projects done early in the year 😉 .
For even more inspiration, check out these posts to see how a few other Silhouette crafters designed their calendars:
Shadowbox Advent Calendar by Brigit Mann
White & Black Advent Calendar by Kelly Wayment
Make Your Own Advent Calendar by Persia Lou
Silhouette Advent Calendar with the PixScan Mat by Terri Johnson
And when you’re finished, be sure to come share your project in the Silhouette Crafters by Design Facebook group. It’s always fun to see what you’ve created!
Until next time,
Lycia is a lifelong crafter whose goal is to help others find value, confidence, and joy in whatever they create. She geeks out on using technology to supercharge craft projects with Silhouette Studio, Design Space, Glowforge, sublimation, etc.! Lycia teaches these skills and more through online tutorials and videos as well as in-person classes at both the local and national levels.