Icelandic Style Advent Calendar with a Twist!

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After spending four long years in my "make someday file". my little Scandi-tree is sitting on my dining Table waiting for Advent!

The whole idea began while researching Christmas traditions around the world and I stumbled across the fact that in Iceland, there are no native evergreens so Yule trees were fashioned from Rowan or Mountain Ash trees to resemble evergreen trees. (Here is a bit of fascinating history and folklore surrounding the rowan tree which you might enjoy.)

I played around with the idea of making a table top tree based upon this tradition to hold my Scandinavian inspired ornaments. And then, after starting my blog I ran across this tree! So the two ideas have been percolating in my brain for these past years until finally this year I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

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To be honest, we didn't start out with a perfectly planned out tree! Only a fuzzy concept in my mind! Things just sort of took shape as my sweetie (my technical advisor and keeper of the "man tools") and I poked around our local Home Depot looking for possibilities!

You can see how we built our tree in this post.

Over the years I had discarded the idea of using the tree to display my Scandi-ornaments in favor of hanging little Danish woven paper baskets filled with chocolate candies from the branches - a perfect little Advent Calendar!

In the past couple years, I have become aware that several of my internet friends also place a note in the pockets along with the candy. On that note is listed an activity that will be shared between parent and child on that day. You can read about one created by my frined Linda here.

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That idea got me thinking - what if the Advent tree were also used to help children think of things they are grateful to have in their lives. (For very young children asking them to name something they love will work best!)

A supply of papers and crayons or pencils could be placed at the bottom of the tree. Each morning while munching their treat, children could write down or draw something they love or something they are grateful to have in their lives, fold up their scrap of paper and place it in the basket.

The whole season is so focused on children getting more stuff! This might be a lovely way to get them thinking of all that they already have in their lives.

And of course, adults could play too - the Advent tree could serve as a holiday journal to keep us in a positive and upbeat frame of mind.

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I am not exactly providing you with a formal "tutorial" mainly because, as my sweetie and I found out, making a tree like this one does require a couple of tools that might not be available in every household. But I am sharing the way we made ours in a separate post which follows this one; and hopefully, some of you amazingly creative people out there will use it to come up with your own ideas!

Keep in mind that a small table top tree - fake or real - would work just as nicely as a "grateful Advent" tree. A bulletin board, construction paper and some push pins would work too! Give your own muse the idea and let her run with it!

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The basic tutorial for making Danish woven heart baskets is here. You will need 24. Believe me it is not as daunting as you might think! If you make yours out of as many different scraps from stash as I did, half the fun is seeing how each one turns out! You will find you can't make them fast enough to satisfy your curiosity!

Children in Denmark are taught to make these at about the fifth grade. So if your children are younger, you will most likely be the official heart maker!

Each basket is just the right size to hold one piece of Dove Chocolate. I adjusted the dimensions of the strip of paper described in the tutorial to measure 1 1/2" wide and 4 1/2" long.

Also, I designed these using only three weaving strips to keep it simple enough for young weavers and quick enough for busy mothers. But if you are looking for a challenge, you will find some interesting variations in patterns here and here and some delightful challenges on Paper Matrix!

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Red and white or green and red are pretty much traditional but I had some serious fun mixing it up a bit using papers found in my recycled paper stash - old printed picture calendars and wrapping paper and craft paper.

Note: I did use tape to attach the handles rather than traditional glue just to be sure the weight of the candy didn't pull them apart.

The "how-to" for making the tree will be published as a separate post in an effort to keep my posts as short as possible and to make it easier for those of you who might really like the idea of a Grateful Advent Calendar, but not the idea of building a tree!

And to make creating baskets even easier, here are links to several free printable baskets from my friend Margit.  Just print, cut and assemble.

Snowflake and Snowman Baskets

December Night Basket

Snowflake Hearts

Christmas Rose Basket

Poinsettia Basket

Christmas Cones

And templates for you to use with your own paper: pleated cones and flat hearts, cones and rectangle baskets.

And keep a watchful eye on Margit's blog because she is always making lovely holiday free printables!  Don't miss her three kings!

To make this calendar even more fun, replace each candy filled heart (once the candy is enjoyed of course) with a little Scandi ornament.  Suggestions here!

Loved this post and can't

Loved this post and can't wait to try these hearts, they are so neat. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration.

Okay, how can I make the

Okay, how can I make the stockings AND the tree AND the baskets?

well.

SUPERWOMAN!!!

yay!

Lovely Danish hears, they

Lovely Danish hears, they look so precise...mine never seem to turn out so lovely. :) And I love that your tomte made it in the shot! :D

Oh I LOVE it Pam! Simply

Oh I LOVE it Pam! Simply gorgeous!!! Now I wonder if I could entice my husband to make me one too!

I love the way you keep the

I love the way you keep the spirit of the season alive in every post. Sometimes we all need reminders of what we are supposed to be focusing on with all the other influences out there!

I loved how your tree came

I loved how your tree came out and the ideas you've posted here about advent thankfulness. Great ideas Pam!

Hello Pam, love this post.

Hello Pam, love this post. Your blog has everything a crafty could possibly want, why do I wonder all over the web when I have you. Thanks for the inspiration and wonderful links and beautiful pics.

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