Thursday 29 October 2020

Things to fill a wooden Advent calendar this Christmas

Ideas for filling a wooden Advent calendar

A few months after I started blogging I wrote a blog post full of ideas for things to fill a wooden Advent calendar. At that time, the idea of giving a small gift for each day leading up to Christmas was quite new and children usually just had a picture or chocolate Advent calendar. In the last few years things have really taken off in the world of Advent calendars, especially when it comes to Advent calendars for adults, and so I thought I'd write an updated version of my post with some new ideas and links to products that might be useful if you are looking for inspiration for how to fill those wooden boxes.

My own wooden Advent calendar is one that I decorated myself from Hobbycraft. You can see how I did it here - Decorating a Hobbycraft wooden Advent calendar. It has a small box for each day of December, and the boxes are a good size for filling with small treats.

Wooden Advent calendar decorated from Hobbycraft

There are lots of different styles of wooden Advent calendar available so it's worth having a browse to find one that you like, especially if you are planning to use it for years to come. If you are buying one for a younger child I'd look for the more squat versions that won't be knocked over easily.

Collectable toys

A few years ago we bought a big pack of mixed Pokemon figures. We had enough Pokemon to fill two Advent calendars with plenty left over which we used as party bag favours for years, and the children still play with them. It was perfect because we only needed to buy one bag, and it had enough variety to make each day interesting. It's easy to find big packs of small toys like this on a variety of themes. Just check the delivery dates as some of these are shipped from China and so can take a little while to arrive, order in plenty of time.

Other small toys

There are lots of other small toys that can be bought in bulk. If you don't want too much repetition in the gifts, you could always get together with a friend or two and swap, so that each child receives an assortment of gifts. And there are some toys, like cars, that it seems children can never have too many of!


Children love collecting erasers, and there are some really pretty ones available which come in a range of different designs so they won't be too similar each day. You could also think about mini gel pens or highlighters, tiny decorated adhesive note blocks, little notebooks, decorative paper clips or magnetic clips, magnets or keyrings.

Beauty items and jewellery

Look for multi-packs of things like mini nail varnish or lip gloss. I also love the range of tiny Christmas charms that you can buy. You could make the first gift a bracelet, with a new charm to be added each day ready for this Christmas and then to be re-used every year.

Christmas decorations

Christmas decorations make a lovely Advent gift that can be re-used from year to year. I particularly like the blank wooden decorations which the child can decorate as a Christmas activity like the ones that I made here - Decorated wooden Christmas ornaments.

Sweets and chocolates

Probably the most economical way to fill a wooden Advent calendar is with chocolates and sweets. In the supermarkets at Christmas you can easily find net bags of individually foil wrapped chocolates or chocolate coins. I personally love Lindor chocolate balls from Lindt, and would be very happy to receive one of those each day. You could also include mini bags of sweets like Haribo or packs of Love Hearts, treat size chocolate bars or individually wrapped chocolates from a Christmas chocolates tub.

Net bag of Christmas chocolates

Christmas activities

Finally, a free way to fill your Advent calendar is to include a family Christmas activity to do each day. They can be as simple or elaborate as you like, for example doing some Christmas baking, a visit to Santa, a trip out in the car to see some decorated houses in your neighbourhood or writing the Christmas cards.

If you need some inspiration here are some great lists to get you started:

30 fun Advent calendar activities
The ultimate Advent activity list

Other ideas

You could also buy one larger toy, like a Lego set, and include a few pieces each day. This would be a much cheaper alternative to a Lego or Playmobil advent calendar! Another idea is a jigsaw - you could first make the jigsaw yourself and then break it up with the pieces for each row in a separate box. Then the jigsaw will build up over Advent to reveal a festive picture.

Filling a wooden Advent calendar for adults

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Advent calendars for adults have become very popular over the last few years. There are many different pre-filled ones available, but although some can represent good value, when it comes to the contents they can work out very expensive.

Many of the gifts above would also be perfect for adults, but some additional ideas you might want to consider could be:

Miniature alcoholic bottles (or even full size ones!), nail varnish, make up, bath bombs, pens and pencils, keyrings, Christmas decorations, jewellery or stationery.

You might also find these Advent calendar filler ideas posts useful:

Advent calendar filler ideas for crafters

I hope I've given you plenty of ideas - have fun filling up those Advent calendars!

Monday 12 October 2020

Free cross stitch patterns - Simple small Halloween designs

Today I'm sharing some very simple Halloween pixal art designs that would be perfect for Halloween themed cross stitch samplers or Hama bead projects. Because I designed these patterns originally for Hama beads I've added some pictures so that you can see what they look like made up with both midi and mini Hama beads. I'm planning to use some of them for my cross stitch map, as we have often found ourselves celebrating Halloween while on our travels around the world!

This first set of designs are very small and simple, using just a few colours. I have a cross stitch witch's hat, a skull, witch's face and tiny pumpkin.

Mini cross stitch Halloween designs

These simple designs were used to make these Hama bead Halloween napkin rings, a lovely seasonal decoration for a Halloween themed dinner table. 

Hama bead Halloween themed napkin rings

This next set of Halloween pixel designs are slightly larger. There's a pumpkin, a ghost, skull and witch's hat. 

Halloween free mini cross stitch designs simple

I used these designs to make some Mini Hama bead Halloween pin badges for some spooky Halloween party accessories. 

Mini Hama bead Halloween designs

Finally I designed these simple Halloween sugar skull patterns. The basic pattern can be changed to fit the colours that you have available or that fit your theme. You can use both pastel and bolder colours, and choose contrasting or complementary colours. There are all sorts of ways that it can be adapted!

Free Sugar Skull simple cross stitch design

I used this design to make some larger Hama bead Sugar Skull bunting and I used the midi Hama beads to make tiny Mini Hama bead Sugar Skull earrings.

Hama bead Halloween Sugar Skull designs

I hope that you like these Halloween themed designs! If you make something using them I'd love to see it! 

If you like Halloween style pixel art, you might also like to see some of my other Hama bead crafts for Halloween

Thursday 1 October 2020

September crafting update

This year I challenged myself to complete one of my unfinished craft projects each month. The good news is that now I don't actually have a proper unfinished project left to complete! So this month I've been doing a bit more work on my cross stitch map.

You can see it here - Cross stitch map by SUCK UK (affiliate link)

I've had this cross stitch map for a few years now. It's just cross stitch fabric which has a dark blue map printed on it, and then you can stitch in the countries that you've visited. That didn't take me very long, and it was looking quite bare, so I decided to fill in the gaps around the edge with a patchwork of different pictures based on places that I've visited. Eventually I want the whole area to be filled with stitching, but there's still quite a lot left to work on!

This month I completed the dinosaur skull at the bottom and the ice cream on the left. Most of the patterns are ones that I've designed myself, you can find links to some of them at the bottom of this post. I'm also filling in some areas just with blue or with waves. It's something that I can just pick up and put down as the mood strikes me, and I really enjoy coming up with the different designs.

Cross stitch map in progress by Suck UK

Free Kangaroo Crossing cross stitch pattern

Free cruise ship cross stitch pattern

Free Disney inspired castle cross stitch pattern