Cue: jaw-aching grin.
That ear-to-ear smile she only uses for dinosaurs, gifts from Oma and big scoops of strawberry ice cream eaten by the fire.
It greets us every morning for 24 days straight!
We each have an Advent calendar. This year, our LDA has a dinosaur Advent calendar. She grins from ear to ear even before opening the daily gift.
For a guaranteed dinosaur glow, make your own dinosaur Advent calendar! And I promise: There are only 3 easy steps.
Trixie’s crafts to try
TITLE: Dinosaur Advent calendar
CRAFT: A simple Advent calendar dino-fied with glittery dinosaurs to spread joy for Christmas
DINOSAUR: Whichever toy dinosaur you wish (repeats are allowed)
BEST FOR: Advent (21 to 24 December)
EASE: At this time of year, the easier the better
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What is an advent calendar?
An Advent calendar is a wonderful Christmas tradition that comes from Germany (they also brought us the Christmas tree).
Advents calendars count down the days until Christmas. Traditionally, each day reveals a bible verse and a picture. They always start on 1 December and have 24 or 25 days/gifts, depending on when Christmas is celebrated (Germans celebrate Christmas Eve).
Modern Advent calendars are filled with chocolates, toys, or even nail polish. You can buy one ready to use, or make one yourself.
Ours has dinosaurs.
Ready-to-use dinosaur Advent calendars
If you are strapped for time, the easy solution to your Advent calendar needs is to buy a calendar that is already made.
Chocolate calendars are simple and easy. Most supermarkets and department stores stock them and they come in all price categories (not that a child would taste the difference). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one with dinosaurs on it.
Our LDA receives at least one chocolate calendar each Christmas. Many businesses give them away as advertising gifts. I am yet to see one with a dinosaur on it.
Some calendars also come full of small dinosaurs – one a day. How long will your LDA have to wait for their favourite dinosaur?
- This dinosaur Advent calendar comes with a play mat.
- We love the Schleich dinosaurs and know this one would be good.
- This Advent calendar has 12 dinosaurs and 12 dinosaur fossils.
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Why do you want to make a dinosaur Advent calendar?
I don’t know about you, but I’m not too keen on my child eating low-quality chocolate each morning for 24 days. Or all at once when she just can’t wait.
I would much rather give her some of the things she needs (Winter accessories, underwear) when she needs them (rather than waiting a month until Christmas). To prevent boredom, I intersperse the necessities with fun (cheap) toys and school supplies. Some are dinosaur-themed.
3 Steps to your dinosaur Advent calendar
Step 1: Choose your dinosaurs
I started my Christmas shopping early this year.
Salzburg is notoriously cold at Halloween, so I needed to source a new winter jacket for our LDA before our visit. While searching, I found some cute dinosaur Christmas ornaments for our tree (and shared them on Facebook). They sold out quickly.
While I might not be able to buy any more of the ornaments, they did inspire our calendar.
For this dinosaur Advent calendar, you will need 24 small dinosaurs, one for each day. I purchased a box of 60 and yes, there were repeats. That’s fine.
I painted each of the dinosaurs in acrylic paint in colours similar to those of Christmas ornaments (they will be in the same room). To make painting easier, I sprayed them with some primer spray for plastic (which I already had on hand from our reindinos). The dinosaurs are so small, it took less than a minute to do (and a few hours to dry).
Adding the glitter was easy too. I followed the same instructions that I used to paint the backpack bling: paint on some craft glue or mod podge where you want the glitter. Hold the dinosaur over your bowl and “sprinkle” the dinosaur with glitter. From experience, be careful putting the leftover glitter back in the bowl.
Of course, you don’t have to paint them. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave them natural (because your dinosaur fan would prefer to play with them without the glitter – or you’d prefer it).
Step 2: Find and wrap your gifts
The gifts do not have to be dinosaur gifts (though we have a list of dinosaur Advent calendar gifts for inspiration).
I prefer to wrap all the gifts in brown paper (the patterned paper is from Santa). Normally, I place each wrapped gift in a small gift box or paper lunch bag. This makes them look more uniform and means I can add a lollipop or gummi bears or other sweet.
Our LDA will find a dinosaur in the giftbox or bag on about 16 of the days.
Step 3: Label your gifts and assemble your calendar
Half the fun of an Advent calendar is looking for the right day. For this to work, each package has to be numbered.
Finally, assemble each day. I used some washi tape to attach our gift tags and some string to attach the dinosaurs (that are not inside the giftbox). Glue dots might work too (especially if you don’t use glitter).
If you want to hang your gifts: Find a branch (without leaves) or broomstick (without a broom) and secure some string or ribbon to two ends so that it can hang (horizontally). Attach each gift and dinosaur combination to the branch with string so that they hang at different heights.
We have limited wall space so we use a much more relaxed method: Lay the packages out in your available space with their dinosaurs on top. Add some tinsel if you please.
Other easy-to-make dinosaur Advent calendar ideas
PREHISTORIC FOREST: Create a paper cone for each day. Paint them in various shades of green and label each with a number (1 to 24). Fill them with appropriate goodies and stand them up to look like a forest. Intersperse some of your favourite toy dinosaurs strolling in the prehistoric woods.
DINOSAUR COLOURING BOOK: Subscribe to our emails and grab a copy of our dinosaur Christmas colouring book. Print out the images and roll them into 23 gifts, tying each one with a bow. Buy a packet of coloured pencils and wrap it up as the first gift. Find a branch or broomstick and secure some string or ribbon to two ends so that it can hang. Attach each gift to the branch and a couple of toy dinosaurs too.
CHRISTMAS DINOSAURS: This one works well if you have larger gifts, such as books. Subscribe to our emails and grab a copy of our dinosaur Christmas colouring book. Print out the images and colour in your favourite 24, cutting them out to remove the excess paper. Wrap your gifts in plain (brown packing) paper and stick one of your coloured dinosaur images on each gift. Don’t forget to number them!
SAY CHEESE!: This requires a little more creativity but is still simple. Gather together your little dinosaur fan’s favourite dinosaurs, grab your polaroid camera and take 24 photos. (Alternatively, take 24 photos with your phone and print them out). Write a number on the back and attach each photo to a gift. You could even string them up like a clothesline.
DINOSAUR LABELS: Last year, I used our dinosaur cookie cutters to create dinosaur labels for our Advent calendar gifts. Trace onto a piece of colour card, cut out, number and attach. This could look good with green labels and candy-striped paper.
Dinosaur Advent calendars for happy little dinosaur fans
Our LDA caught me trying to take photos of our dinosaur Advent calendar for this post and she is already warming up her strawberry ice cream smile.
“Can I open just the first one?”
Anticipation is a wonderful thing.