Sunday, December 1, 2013

DIY | (Completely Recycled!) Advent Calendar - Pre-December: Mailbox

Apologies for the lack of posts lately; I've been rushing to finish up this huuge project for December that I've been dying to share with y'all!


Back in late October, my friend Debbie and I were discussing advent calendars and lamenting the fact that neither of us had the pleasure of ever having one when we were little. One of us jokingly suggested that we should make one for each other and it ended up actually happening! Since we're both poor post-collegiate students, we agreed on a budget of roughly $30 ($25 for actual gifts, ~$5 for tax/packaging) for 25 days worth of little gifts; this calculates out to about $1 allowance per gift. Setting a budget challenged us to both be frugal and creative with our purchases (not to mention excuses to explore the 99c Store, Dollar Tree, and Daiso!).

How do you allot $1 a day for gifts without being cheap or resorting to useless things that the recipient won't want/use? Make a wishlist! Both Debbie and I made wishlists of practical yet inexpensive gifts or snacks that we would enjoy receiving, in addition to making a "no-no" list of things we definitely do not need/want. I wanted to spend a little more on some gifts so I also chose to DIY a couple gifts that I hope she'll like!

Click to see our wishlists!

Gift Ideas

Photo Credit: Kaboodle | Faith and Home | The Petit Cadeau

Kids: small novelty toys/candy, Christmas Bible verses
Adults: Chocolates, trinkets, Christmas activity cards

To stay within the budget and to encourage environmental friendliness, I chose to package my advent calendar using completely recycled materials and crafty leftovers. This way I wouldn't have to spend on packaging materials, allowing a little more money for the cost of gifts. I will be posting with a one-day delay (gift for Day 1 will be posted on Dec. 2nd, Day 2 present on Dec 3rd, etc) to avoid spoiling the surprise in case Debbie's snooping around my blog ;)

I've been working on this practically all of November so I'm super excited! Today's tutorial features a DIY mailbox that I made to contain all the goodies to come! Get ready for 25 days of creative + recycled wrapping DIYs and gift-giving ideas!


DIY Recycled Mailbox

(Difficulty: Medium)


(1) Download the mailbox flag/bunting template here
(2) Large cardboard gift box, the bigger the better (I used an old Hollister one)
(3) Hot glue
(4) Scrap cardboard
(5) Scissors
Optional: embellishments
(6) Cardstock
(7) Twine
(8) Brass fasteners
(9) Sequin ribbon
(10) Metallic marker
(11) Scrap ribbon


1. Flatten your box completely.

2. Fold your box so that the flaps overlap and hot glue. Secure with a clip and let the mailbox tube dry.

3. Roughly cut out a piece of cardboard larger than the opening of your mailbox tube (I freehanded it). Score and glue down to secure flap. Trace the opening onto the cardboard with a pencil and cut V-shaped notches along the edge. Score and fold down.

4. Hot glue on a folded ribbon for the pull tab, then hot glue on a strip of cardboard to cover the notches of the flap.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 for the other end of the mailbox, excluding the ribbon pull tab.


6. For the mailbox flag, cut out the shape using the template and hot glue on the sequin ribbon. Trim down the edges and punch a hole through the thinner part of the flag.

7. Make a small hole on the side of the mailbox and fasten the flag.

8. Using the template, cut out the desired number of triangle shapes. String onto twine and attach to side of mailbox.

9. I made a "special delivery" tag and fastened it to the opening end, and added a bow to the bunting.

*BONUS PIC* of how little trash I had from the whole advent calendar!

Stuff with goodies & as always, feel free to decorate your mailbox with whatever you have on hand!

This DIY is pretty complicated and a bit challenging, so please let me know in the comments if anything was unclear or if you have any questions! Stay tuned for Day 1's DIY gift tomorrow! :)

Tomorow: DIY Tea Bag Packaging

All Advent Calendar-related posts can be found here.

Want to see what Debbie got me? Follow me on Instagram!


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