Dollar Store Advent Calendar

Do you love the tradition of the advent calendar?   Here is a creative idea for an advent calendar using Dollar Tree pails and a large board.  What kid doesn’t love the anticipation of something special each day to countdown to Christmas?  And these pails from Dollar Tree are perfect to put a small treat, note or gift in them.



9 bags of galvanized metal pails (found at Dollar Tree in the wedding section)

Silhouette Cameo machine or Vinyl Set from Say It On the Wall

Krylon Cherry Red spray paint


MDF or Wood Board

Accent flower 

Angled Screws

Drill and drill bit


1.   Cut or have a board cut to 18” x 24”.   I would use a 3/4” MDF or a pine board.   Measure and predrill all of your holes for the hooks.   That is the hardest part of the project.  Space them evenly apart.   Then prime and paint your board.  Note on picture below: I didn’t drill first, big mistake.

diy advent calendar

2.   Using a Silhouette Cameo machine cut out the numbers 1-25 onto red vinyl.  The vinyl set for this project is also available on Say It On the Wall if you do not have a digital cutting machine. Stick the vinyl in place on the tin pails.

wooden advent calendar

dollar store advent calendar

3.   After your board is dry screw all 25 of the angled hooks into place and then put the pails on them.

inexpensive advent calendar

4. In order to mark the day I used a couple of buttons glued together with a magnet on the back.   Since the small pails are galvanized the magnet sticks to the pail and you can move it each day.

how to make an advent calendar

small bucket advent calendar

5. Then I cut out “Merry Christmas” in the Pharmacy font from in white vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo machine and adhered it to the top using transfer tape.

advent calendar activities

6.   Add a flower or some sort of embellishment to the left.  I used a fabric flower from The Pleated Poppy (no longer available).

advent calendar ideas

christmas advent calendar

do-it-yourself advent calendar

You can add treats or write special activities to do as a family on small strips of paper and place them in the pail.

galvanized pail advent calendar

merry christmas advent calendar

 Originally posted in December 2010 (excuse the sub par photos :-))

If you are interested in the vinyl lettering for this project it is available on Say it on the Wall.

Check out this Advent Calendar Pillow for another creative way to count down.


The Anti-Treat Advent Calendar with lots of ideas for Family Activities

magnetic advent calendar

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  1. Green Door Girl says:

    super cute – I Love it!

  2. KatrinkaJane says:

    Yay, thank you! LOL I'm looking to make one out of felt and fleece, so we'll see how that goes… 🙂

  3. love it!

  4. House Revivals says:

    I like this one a lot! Especially pretty with your font choice and the flower!

  5. ScrappinCntryGrl says:

    Out of all the Advent Calenders I have seen, I think I like this one the best…disclaimer "So Far"…lol But I have seen alot as I am trying to decide what to make myself. Thanks for sharing the tutorial, and giving me another reason to like the Dollar Tree!!!

  6. brown eyed girl says:

    Love this project! What are you going to put in the buckets?

  7. LOOOOOOVE THIS!!! And love the Pleated Poppy!

  8. Way cute! Every time I pass those buckets in the dollar store I have an uncontrollable urge to put them in my basket. I always end up putting them back though because I can't think of what I would do with them. Now I have something to try out!

  9. Nana Moon Shop says:

    What a cute idea! I think it's a GREAT advent calendar. I love the Pleated Poppy too!

  10. This is great! I love it! I wish I could have one of my own…sadly, our cats are not so well behaved around cute things. Okay, okay…they're not so well behaved around anything! Haha. Everything is a toy to them.

  11. Nessa the Procrastinator says:

    You gave me a wonderful idea! Thanks chica!

  12. Adorable! I've already cut out the letters so that I can make a copy of this. Thanks for the great idea!

  13. Heather - says:

    It looks so awesome, Beckie!! Love love love it!


  14. Heather - says:

    It looks so awesome, Beckie!! Love love love it!


  15. Heather - says:

    It looks so awesome, Beckie!! Love love love it!


  16. Heather - says:

    It looks so awesome, Beckie!! Love love love it!


  17. The buckets are sooo fun! Great job!

  18. Fabulous! It looks totally high end.

  19. selina@CreativeJuicesDecor says:

    This is great! What about putting a candy or chocolate in each one. My kids get such a kick out of getting a surprise candy each day till christmas and instead of buying THREE advent calendars every year (3 kids) I could save money by doing this and having it as a tradition!

  20. Thanks for telling us where to find those pails! I've been looking for those things!!

  21. roweaglejacket says:

    super cute!

  22. Lori Thompson says:

    Super-dooper CUTE!!

  23. I really love this!
    Now I'm gonna be on the lookout for some buckets!!!

  24. Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife says:

    I am so inspired!!! It's so cute!

  25. So cute!

  26. This is SO cool!

  27. kami @ says:

    Darling, Beckie!

  28. Adam, April & Aidan says:

    Oh my gosh, I love it! I need one of these machines.

  29. Adam, April & Aidan says:

    Oh my gosh, I love it! I need one of these machines.

  30. Adam, April & Aidan says:

    Oh my gosh, I love it! I need one of these machines.

  31. Adam, April & Aidan says:

    Oh my gosh, I love it! I need one of these machines.

  32. I love this!! Thank you So much for sharing it!!

  33. I saw this at CSI Project and it is one of those WOW! (when you see it) projects. What a terrific idea and I'm sure it looks wonderful in person. Thanks for the tin bucket resource. I've never thought to look in the wedding section.


  34. Kim @ The Celebration Shoppe says:

    I absolutely LOVE this! Great idea!

  35. This is darling and one of the cutest I have seen yet!!


  36. Emily @ LaForce Be With You says:

    Visiting from BCD… I love this idea! Adorable flower too!

  37. Katie Zuniga says:

    I almost tried to make this today, but I decided I wouldn't even come close. So instead I was inspired to buy dollar store stuff and I made an ornament wreath. It cost me $6 and my friends and family love it. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  38. Made this yesterday!!! I used different colors and arranged my tins to have only 24 but I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! Thanks!

  39. Whimsical Creations says:

    I absolutely LOVE it!!!

  40. These are lovely! Such inspiration and beautiful holiday decor! Great job here; I’m so glad I stumbled upon your post.


  41. Love it! I made an advent calendar with dollar store buckets this year too! These buckets are just so versatile! Yours turned out great!

  42. Our Seven Dwarfs says:

    I love your advent calendar. I thought I was making my inexpensively, but you trumped me! check out mine using dollar store circular boxes. Great blog, I love it!

  43. I LOVE this advent calendar and your ideas for advent. I started our own advent tradition last year called GOOD Christmas ( Really enjoy reading you blog…keep the great ideas coming!!!!Thanks

  44. A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. So cute!!! Love it!!

  46. LOVE IT! I may have to try to make this!

  47. Adorable! Gotta love the Dollar Tree!

  48. Cute Beckie!!

  49. I found this super cute & creative idea on pinterest! LOVE it! I featured it
    If you want an I was Featured Button feel free to grab one from the TGIF section =-)

  50. I love it, as we got ur niece for the summer me ad her can make this 2gether ready for Xmas thank u

  51. Thank you for sharing, I love this idea. I have created a round-up of all my favorite Advent calendars and I have added yours! You can check it out here If you would like me to remove your feature please let me know and I will take it down right away. Oh, and please stop by and grab a feature button and wear it proudly! You deserve it!

  52. I purchased this lovely DIY one from etsy today! I like that its a little more jesusy. AND its so pretty. But now i’m thinking about combining them!!!


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