College Advent Calendar

  • 01 of 04

    A College-Themed Advent Calendar

    Filled with coffee cards and other collegiate treats, this do-it-yourself college advent calendar will add holiday cheer to any dorm room. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Remember when the kids were small and the countdown to Christmas was eased by a chocolate-filled advent calendar? Stocked with coffee gift cards, pizza cash, and other treats, this college-themed Advent Calendar is the perfect festive treat to tuck in a care package - and chase away the final exam blues. Do the whole 24-day countdown, or just count down the days of finals week. Either way, this quick DIY craft will add holiday cheer to any dorm room wall.

    Here's how to make one, ideas for...MORE what to tuck inside, and instructions for hanging the finished masterpiece. Page through or use the quick links below:

    • Supplies and how-tos
    • All sorts of treats to tuck inside
    • How to hang it up
    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    How to Make a College Advent Calendar

    Use college-themed images, colors and patterns to create a dorm room-ready advent calendar. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Ready to make an advent calendar for the dorm? There are two things you'll need to consider before you start pulling together materials: How many days do you want the calendar to count down - the traditional 24? Finals week only? Dec. 1 till the big holiday homecoming?

    And, what do you want to tuck inside? The size of the treats determines how large the calendar pockets need to be. The calendar on the previous page, which holds objects the size of a coffeehouse gift card, has pockets that are...MORE 4 inches wide by 4 1/2 inches high. You may prefer something slightly larger. Whatever you decide, it's best to make one pocket and test the size by actually sticking one of your treats inside, before cutting anything else.

    Ready? Here's what you'll need:


    • Heavy, decorative paper for the pocket fronts. For Boston University: red and white stripes and polka dots echo the university's colors, along with the college logo and adorable dog mascot printed on glossy photo paper. For Berkeley: blue and gold stripes, paw prints and images of Oski and the Campanile would be perfect.
    • Heavy white cardstock for the pocket backs.
    • Numbers, printed on card stock. I used a typewriter key font in white, red and black to coordinate with the college colors. You'll need the numbers 1 to 24 for a full advent calendar. For a finals week calendar, you might opt for "Finals day 1," etc.
    • Scissors, an exacto knife and hole punch
    • Double-stick tape or glue
    • 2 yards of 1/2-inch wide grosgrain ribbon in university colors
    • 3 yards of 2-inch wide grosgrain ribbon in university colors
    • A tiny safety pin
    • Thumbtacks
    • Treats to tuck inside (you'll find plenty of ideas on the next page)


    • Make a test pocket: Cut a 4-inch wide by 3 1/2-inch high rectangle from the decorative paper. Cut a second rectangle, 4-inches wide and 4 1/12 inches high, from the card stock. Run strips of double-stick tape across the bottom and side edges of the smaller rectangle. Stick the front to the back and press to adhere. Now pop the top open and try sticking one of your treats inside. Adjust the sizing if necessary, then cut out and assemble the rest of the pockets
    • Attach the numbers to the pockets with double-stick tape or glue.
    • Punch a hole in the top of each pocket back.
    • Thread the narrow ribbon through the holes in the tops of the pockets, starting with pocket No. 1, if you want that pocket at the top, or No. 24, if you want the full countdown effect, with pockets removed as they're opened.
    • Tuck the treats inside and admire your handiwork. You're done! You'll find hanging instructions - which use the wide ribbon, safety pin, ‚Äčand thumbtacks - here.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    10 Treats for a College Advent Calendar

    Mocha mix, DIY ornaments, a $5 gift card and some pizza cash are all perfect treats to tuck in a dorm room advent calendar. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    When your kids were small, you may have tucked chocolates and mini-Lego sets in the pockets of their advent calendars. Actually, I can't think of a single college guy who wouldn't still love chocolates and Legos. But if you're looking for other ideas for what to tuck in a dorm advent calendar, here's a roundup of collegiate possibilities:

    • A chocolate-studded cookie heart for day one - anything beyond that first pocket may get too stale. Bake your favorite Tollhouse cookie recipe in...MORE a jelly roll pan or other large rectangular pan, then use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut them out.
    • Gift cards for Starbucks or another coffeehouse, a local pizza joint or iTunes.
    • Packets of flavored espresso or mocha mix for late-night exam crams.
    • Ridiculous pencils, Tetris sticky notes and other whimsical, but practical study gear.
    • A college logo bookmark, like this quickie DIY project.
    • DIY college logo ornaments.
    • Or a Victorian paper doll ornament, wearing a Boston University sweatshirt - or the togs of the college of your choice.
    • Lip balm - or lip gloss.
    • Photo thumbtacks or magnets for the dorm.
    • Pizza cash.
    • Gas money or a whimsical DIY campus luggage tag for the holiday homecoming.
    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    How to Display a College Advent Calendar

    Photo by Jackie Burrell

    This collegiate advent calendar will be a holiday hit in the dorms. Here's how to hang it up without marring the walls or giving the RA fits.

    • Cut the 2-inch wide grosgrain ribbon into two pieces, one 1 yard long and the other 2 yards long.
    • Lay the longer ribbon on your work surface. Place the advent calendar on top, facing up, and with the end of its narrow ribbon aligned with the top of the wide ribbon and the first pocket starting a few inches down. Tweak the spacing of the pockets so they...MORE overlap fairly evenly and are nicely distributed down the length of the ribbon. (If you are mailing a 24-day calendar, it helps to arrange the spacing so there is no overlap between days 8 and 9, and 16 and 17, so you can fold it.) Tie a loose overhand knot at the bottom, joining the wide and narrow ribbons, and ensuring that the pockets don't slide off prematurely.
    • Place the 1-yard length of wide ribbon across the top, centering it an inch or two down, like the crossbar on a T. Secure the intersection with the safety pin, making sure it catches all three ribbons. Tie the yard-long piece in a pretty bow. Use a thumbtack or two to hang it on the wall.
    • To pack the advent calendar for mailing, place it atop several large sheets of newsprint or packing paper. Fold the layers of paper around the calendar to protect the contents, then fold it in thirds before placing it in the box. Stick the thumbtack(s) in a small plastic bag or envelope, labeled "For hanging," and tape it to the wrapped calendar. Add crumpled newspaper or other packing materials to keep contents from shifting. You'll find mailing tips here, including ways to avoid having the calendar languish in the campus mail room while the cookies get stale.