22/11/2009 06:55 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

How To Make Your Own Advent Calendar

My children love those chocolate advent calendars. I'm less enamoured. Toddlers don't understand the concept of waiting and I can do without the tantrums when I'm trying to get everyone to school!

I'm not so much of a killjoy that I ban them, but they are just a small part of a much bigger Christmas countdown, which includes advent candles (not hugely successful as we always burn them down too much or too little) and a wooden Christmas tree with numbered hooks and cute decorations.

But my favourite is the advent calendar I made last year. I'm not sure where the idea came from but it was a hit and we'll be unpacking it again soon.

It was simple to make, fun to use and means we incorporate our many and varied Christmas traditions into December without missing a single one. Here's how to make it.

  • Buy some thick festive paper from a craft shop to make the envelopes. Wrapping paper is too thin but plain paper is fine or you can just use blank envelopes and get the children to decorate them.

  • Place a sticker onto each one and number from 1 to 24. If using blank envelopes you could just write these on but make sure they're easy to read.

  • Make a list of 24 activities you like to do at Christmas. I cheated a bit and included ones that we would do anyway like "decorate Christmas tree". Others on the list included; go for a drive to see the Christmas lights and take hot chocolate and cookies, make edible presents, watch It's a Wonderful Life, make mince pies, deliver mince pies to Grandpa and have a candlelit meal.

  • Decide on the order you want to do the activities. Obviously you won't want to leave something like "buy the tree" until number 24 but ordering them took us some time.

  • We then strung ours next to the kitchen table across the window and took it in turns to open them each morning. Even though none of the activities were new to the children as they incorporated our usual traditions, they loved it!