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DIY Wooden Advent Calendar with Paper Houses

Countdown to Christmas with this beautiful wooden advent calendar with paper houses. 

I am in love with our new Christmas advent calendar! It’s the perfect marriage of my two favorite things: woodworking and paper crafting. The easy to build house shaped shelf holds 25 little paper houses to open even day till Christmas.

Each year I look forward to designing a new advent calendar. I might enjoy it as much as the kids enjoy opening up their calendar each day. And thought we keep it simple with these tips for a stress free activity advent calendar, it still helps us get in the Christmas spirit. 

Red shelves with 25 white & gold paper houses on them to open each day in December until Christmas.

Wood House Shaped Shelf

The base of the advent calendar is an easy to build house shaped shelf. The shelf is made with just two 1×4 boards.

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Plus all you need to make it are a measuring tape, miter saw and nail gun. And you are going to love how fast the shelf goes together!

Close-up of the wooden house shaped shelves with paper houses on it.

You can stain the advent calendar shelf any color you want. For this year’s Christmas decor, I am going with a classic red theme with simplistic Scandinavian influences. 

So for our house shelf, I used up some of the leftover red stain from the wooden toy barn build earlier this month. This wood stain is the perfect vibrant red for Christmas. 

Wood and paper advent calendar on floor in front of the fireplace.

Paper Christmas Houses

The second part of the DIY advent calendar are the 25 paper houses. These were so much fun to design. The houses are simple, but there are 5 different “front door” styles. 

The doors are backed by tissue paper to keep the surprises inside a secret until it’s time to open them. But the tissue paper makes it easy to open up when the time comes. 

Close up angled shot of the paper houses on the DIY advent calendar with gold tissue paper covering the openings.

I chose to use gold tissue paper to give the houses a little glow. Plus the gold and red are so classic and pretty for Christmas.

Each little house is big enough to hold a treat or present for the day. The houses are 3″ x 3″ and 3 1/2″ tall at the peak. 

Scandinavian inspired Christmas advent calendar next to a modern Christmas tree decor.

Since I like to keep our advent calendar stress free for me, I usually don’t plan activities for the whole month in advance. So I left the back of the roofs unglued on any non-filled in houses. Then I can sneak in a card with a daily activity, treat or other when it gets closer. 

How to Make a Wooden Advent Calendar

Tools:

  • Miter saw
  • Finish nail gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Optional: Silhouette Cameo or other electronic cutting machine
    • You can cut out the paper houses by hand, use an X-acto knife for cutting out the door details. 
  • Glue gun

Supplies:

  • Paper houses cut file
  • (2) 8′ long 1×4 boards
  • Wood glue
  • 1 1/4″ long finish nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood putty
  • Wood stain
  • Cardstock
    • I used white cardstock for the houses and gray cardstock for the roofs, but have fun and use whatever colors you want.
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue sticks

Build the Wood Shelf

From the 1×4 boards, cut the following:

  • (6) pieces at 18″ long
  • (2) pieces at 24 1/2″ long 
  • (2) pieces at 13″ long with one end cut at a 30 degree angle 

On the 24 1/2″ long pieces, cut the top at a 30 degree angle just so the top 1/4″ of the board is gone. This will give you a flat surface to attach the roof to. 

I recommend sanding all the boards now, it’s way easier than trying to get in between the narrow shelves later. 

Mark where the shelves will go on the 24 1/2″ pieces. Make sure to mark the boards on the inside (the nipped corner is the outside). There should be 4″ between all the shelves and the top and bottom will be flush with the top and bottom of the boards. 

Marking the placement of the shelves with a speed square and pencil on the boards.

Add glue to the end of one of the 18″ boards, line it up on the mark you made on the side pieces. Secure it with some finishing nails. Repeat for the rest of the 18″ boards. 

Next add wood glue to the exposed edge of all the 18″ boards. Line the other side board up and secure all the shelves with finish nails.

Building the shelf frame with 1x4 boards and a nail gun.

Use wood glue and finish nails to secure the top peak of the roof pieces (the angled edges are the top peak). 

Center the roof on top of the shelves so the edges lay on the notched corners. Secure the roof to the shelves with wood glue and finish nails.

Attaching the roof to the house shaped shelves.

Fill all the nail holes with wood putty. Make sure to use stainable filler if you are staining your shelves. Then sand and finish however you want.

Make the Paper Houses

Cut out the houses from your cardstock. You will need 25 houses, so cut 5 of each design. 

Before assembling the houses, cut a piece of tissue paper to cover the door opening. Attach it to the inside of the house with glue. 

Covering the openings in the paper houses for the advent calendar with tissue paper.

Fold along all the dotted lines, then lift the sides of the house up and secure them with glue.

I love using my hot glue gun for 3D paper crafts because it is fast drying and permanent. 

Glueing the sides of the paper Christmas houses.

If desired, place a sticker with the number of the day on the front of the house. I cut out some vinyl numbers out on my Silhouette Cameo.

But before adding the numbers, arrange the houses on the shelf in the pattern you want. Try to keep from placing the same door style next to each other. 

Now it’s time to fill your paper houses with your advent goodies. Whether you are just slipping in a slip describing your Christmas activity for the day, putting in your favorite Christmas treat, or filling each day in December with a little present, you will love opening up the doors on the houses each day. 

Red house shaped shelf with 25 paper houses as a DIY advent calendar.

But even after the day is over, you can leave the little house on the shelves as part of your Christmas decor. 

Red shelves with 25 white & gold paper houses on them to open each day in December until Christmas.

DIY Wooden Advent Calendar with Paper Houses

Yield: 1 Advent Calendar
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $5-$10

The easy to build house shaped shelf holds 25 little paper houses to open even day till Christmas.

Materials

  • Paper houses cut file
  • (2) 8′ long 1×4 boards
  • Wood glue
  • 1 1/4″ long finish nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood putty
  • Wood stain
  • Cardstock
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue sticks

Tools

  • Miter saw
  • Finish nail gun
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Optional: Silhouette Cameo or other electronic cutting machine
  • X-acto knife for cutting out the door details.
  • Glue gun

Instructions

Build the wood shelf

From the 1×4 boards, cut the following:

(6) pieces at 18″ long

(2) pieces at 24 1/2″ long 

(2) pieces at 13″ long with one end cut at a 30 degree angle 

  1. Cut the top of the 24 1/2" long piece at a 30 degree angle just so the top 1/4″ of the board is gone. 
  2. Sand the boards.
  3. Mark where the shelves will go.
  4. Add glue to the end of one of the 18″ boards.
  5. Line it up on the mark of the side pieces.
  6. Secure it with finishing nails. 
  7. Repeat for the rest of the 18″ boards. 
  8. Add wood glue to the exposed edge of all the 18″ boards.
  9. Line the other side board up and secure all the shelves with finish nails.
  10. Use wood glue and finish nails to secure the top peak of the roof pieces.
  11. Center the roof on top of the shelves.
  12. Secure the roof to the shelves with wood glue and finish nails.
  13. Fill all the nail holes with wood putty. 
  14. Sand and stain or paint.


MAKE THE PAPER HOUSES

  1. Cut out the houses from your cardstock.
  2. You will need 25 houses, so cut 5 of each design. 
  3. Cut a piece of tissue paper to cover the door opening.
  4. Attach it to the inside of the house with glue. 
  5. Fold along all the dotted lines and secure them with glue.
  6. Arrange the houses on the shelf.
  7. Fill your paper houses with your advent goodies. 

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

I cannot wait to see my kids opening the houses come December. 

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati
DIY wooden advent calendar made up of a red house shaped shelf with 25 white & gold paper houses on it.
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Chris

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

I am looking for the paper houses, is there a page number? so much to go thru to find it ☺

Christine

Tuesday 19th of November 2019

I can't find the for the houses in the library.

Kati

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

There are no page numbers in the Subscriber Library. Just log in with the password that is emailed you after signing-up here: Subscriber Library

Kati

Wednesday 20th of November 2019

They are under the Christmas section. Scroll down until you see the picture of the advent calendar, the links are just underneath it.

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