Create a fun photo advent calendar in moments and celebrate your memories through December and into the new year!
- Family Friendly
- Time & Effort
- Supplies Needed
This gorgeous twinkly personalised photo advent calendar comes together in minutes with no tools required!
It really is a picture-perfect way to mark the Christmas countdown … yep, we did just say that😉
Looking for more advent calendar inspiration to enjoy? Click here to discover more.
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Why A Photo Advent Calendar
Whether you just want to enjoy happy memories & favourite photos from the past year or are looking to make a fabulously thoughtful advent gift for family or friends, a photo advent calendar is what you need!
And what a great excuse to actually print some photos out!?! (We’re assuming you’re like us and have thousands on your phone but never get around to doing anything with them…)
We are rather partial to a homemade advent calendar anyway. But we think it makes a great alternative to a chocolate advent calendar for teen children with Snapchat folders full of photos.
Or the perfect December treat for grandparents.
Or a fun way to share the best moments from the year with your best friend, relive good times from the summer holiday with the whole family, or reminisce about that special birthday celebration.
It’d also make an ideal gift for new parents, homeowners, or newlyweds.
Actually, who isn’t it the perfect gift for?!
Why Make A Framed Picture Advent Calendar
We’ve been wanting to make a photo advent calendar for a while now and contemplating how to design it.
Even if we do say so ourselves, this is pretty smart looking picture advent calendar but trust us, it’s really simple to make too – no tools or honed handicraft skills required!
Whilst photos on the wall or fridge look fabulous, we think you get more bang for your buck with this framed design. It’s more eye-catching but isn’t tricky or time-consuming to create. Plus it’s seriously versatile so costs can easily be kept low too.
By using a deep box frame, it immediately gives your photos a cosy home and makes for a striking design. The fairy light string doubling up as the hanging wire works a treat. And by putting the glass cover behind the wires, it makes them extra twinkly! Perfect for those December evenings.
What Size Frame For A Photo Advent Calendar?
The answer will of course depend on what size photos you use!
For this design, we’ve used a 40cm square frame paired with 2inch square photos and we’re really happy with the result. The overall size is impactful enough to catch the eye and be able to see the photos without being too large or cumbersome.
The 40cm square frame will be easy to find a home for – leaning atop a sideboard or hanging from the wall. It’ll tuck in nicely on the kitchen worktop too.
One of the great things about this photo advent calendar is that other than optional painting, the frame isn’t permanently damaged or changed so you can easily repurpose it after Christmas or use it for a new advent calendar the following year. Win win!
What You’ll Need
As with all Jolly Festive creations, this Christmas advent calendar design can be adapted to suit your preferences, style and what you have lying around the house. But here’s what we used to create our photo advent calendar and recommendations for what works well.
Deep Box Frame
The 3D effect of a deep box frame not only gives an extra touch of wow factor to the design, it also protects all the photos and decorations so they don’t get knocked or damaged.
We love putting the glass together with the back board, so the fairy lights twinkle extra brightly when wrapped around it. But you could keep the glass aside and then seal the frame with the glass when advent has finished to make a permanent photo gift.
Plus as we mentioned before, as nothing is actually screwed into the frame, you can easily reuse it again after Christmas in a completely different way.
Our favourite frame was Hobbycraft’s 40cm x 40cm Deep Box Frame which comes in white, black and pine.
Your photo size will need to match your frame. For the 40cm square frame, we found that 2inch square pictures worked best.
We really like PostSnap’s service. The only downside is that they came in packs of 20 so we needed to order two sets – but we’ll use the other photos for personalised cards and gift tags. PostSnap can lift the photos straight from Instagram or Snapchat making it super easy.
Of course if you’d prefer, just print out the photos on your home printer – that way you can choose the size precisely and it may be cheaper too.
There’s no reason why you can’t just write the numbers on the back of the photos directly. It’d look great in a deep red or gold sharpie!
But we really love these stickers from East of India which covered up the brand printing on the back of the photos too.
The sprinkling of decorations along the rows creates a cheerful festive display and a unique advent calendar design. It’s a great way to add a touch of your theme or style too.
Be sure to choose decorations that are a similar size to your photos, reasonably flat in design, and not too heavy that they pull on the wire.
A few that would work well are:
- Wooden reindeer heads
- Scandi style wooden hearts
- Metal trees, stars & hearts in red & green and in gold and silver
- Scandi felt stars
- Shabby chic wooden snowflakes
If you don’t want to spend on decorations, consider cutting out some festive shapes on coloured card and decorating them with metallic sharpies instead.
Of course, you don’t have to have decorations at all – just let the photos shine on their own if you’d prefer!
A thin clear or metal wire string of battery-powered LED fairy lights is best for this Christmas calendar.
It’s easiest to have the light bulbs integrated into the string rather than hanging from so you don’t have to navigate around them when hanging the photos. Make sure the string is thin enough for the pegs to sit comfortably.
We love IKEA’s VIssvass LED lighting chain which is almost 5m long and has 40 warm white lights – it was plenty long enough and the battery lasted well, especially with the built-in 6hr timer.
DIY Photo Advent Calendar Instructions
Here’s the detailed instructions for how to create a custom photo advent calendar. Have fun!
DIY Photo Advent Calendar
- Paint pot & brush (& sandpaper if needed)
- Glass cleaner & cloth
- 1 Deep box frame
- Paint acrylic or wood finish spray paint
- 24-25 Photos small enough to fit comfortably across 5 rows in the frame
- Advent stickers or felt tip pen
- Masking tape
- Fairy lights & batteries
- 10-12 Christmas ornaments
- 24-25 Small wooden pegs
- Open deep box frame and remove the back board and glass.
- [Optional] Carefully cover the edge of the frame with masking tape. Then paint the front rim of the frame with your selected paint. Leave to dry. Then remove masking tape and set aside. Note: frame may need sanding first and several coats of paint may be required.
- Clean the glass. Place the white (or colour of choice) piece of paper / card on top of the back board and put the glass immediately on top of this.
- Secure the (non-battery) end of the fairy light wire to the back of the left top corner of the back board with masking tape. Carefully wind the fairy lights around the back board-glass five times, making sure the wire is tight against the glass and that the lines are evenly spaced down the board (with the top line around 1-2cm from the top of the back board).
- Secure the wires in place on the reverse of the back board with plenty of masking tape. Wind any excess wire around the battery pack.
- Turn the frame over and open the tabs to reinsert the back board-glass into the back of the frame and secure in position. If there’s sufficient excess light wire, you could run the lights around the rim of the frame too. Secure the battery pack with masking tape behind the frame edge in the most discreet corner. Set aside.
- Place the photos in your preferred order and either attach the appropriate numbered sticker or write the advent number on the back of each photo.
- Lay out the photos in 5 rows and dot the decorations amongst these to create your design.
- Once happy with the design, take your frame and, starting at one end, peg each photo (number side up) to the wires at the front and tie the decorations in position, cutting off any excess string as needed.
- We found that a 40x40cm deep box frame with 2x2inch photos worked well.
- Use Christmas decorations that are a similar size to the photos and not too deep or heavy. Ensure they are fastened with string that can be tied onto the wire.
- Rather than buy a piece of white paper for the back of the advent calendar, we turned over the promotional sleeve inside the box frame and used this which was perfectly cut to size.
- Consider whether you'd like to position your photos in numerical order or a random layout.
Do you think you might create a photo calendar this holiday season? Do share it with us if you do – we’d love to see your personalised advent calendar design!