Upcycled Old Dictionary Into a Fun Educational Advent Calendar

4 Materials
3 Hours

The other day I was tidying the study when I came across an old dictionary. I literally had to blow the dust of the book as it hadn't been opened in years. I mean who uses a dictionary these days when you have Google on your phone?

Instead of putting it into the pile for the Charity shop I decided to re-purpose the dictionary into this years advent calendar. I have a website full of wonderful free vintage images and maps and I thought it would be fun to use some of these images along with the dictionary for an educational but fun calendar.

As well as the dictionary I gathered an old coat hanger some twine and craft pegs to help me with the calendar.

First I painted the coat hanger red to be more festive.

I decided to use pages in the dictionary which matched the vintage images I was going to use. So if I was printing a picture of a parrot I used the dictionary page with the word parrot on it.

Using masking tape I carefully taped the torn out dictionary paper onto a piece of standard computer printer paper.

On the blog at the end you can download both the envelope template and a large collection of vintage images to print onto the dictionary pages.

Or you can use any images you want such as family photos etc.

I printed onto 24 dictionary pages one for each day of the advent, each with a cool vintage image or map on it. More details on the blog.

Next, carefully cut out the printed envelope shape from the printed dictionary page.

Fold along the dotted lines and glue along the flaps to make a little envelope.

Next, when all 24 envelopes have been made, with a sharpie and stencil, write the numbers 1-24 on the envelopes.

Next, decide what you are going to put into the envelopes. For my boys, my homemade advent calendars contain a sweet treat and a Cheesy Christmas joke, 1 for each day.

Finally, to finish off hang four lengths of twine from the painted coat hanger. Then peg six envelopes to each string of twine. The hanger makes it really easy to hang the advent calendar on the back of a door.

As well as getting their daily treat the kids also love looking for the word on the envelope that matches the picture each day.

I've also used dictionary pages to make some unique upcycled tuna can butterfly ornaments for Christmas.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Benesse
    on Nov 6, 2019

    This is WONDERFUL!

    At the begining I wasn't sure where it was going...I kept scrolling down, holding my breath and scratching my head. Is this too complicated for me? Is it too much work for so/so return?

    But no...what a delightful surprise to come to the final pic and be positively delighted how it turned out.

    Thank you for taking the time to post and inspire me!

  • Donna Allen
    Donna Allen
    on Nov 6, 2019

    I love the idea, but shouldn't #1, 2, 3, 4 be on the bottom and work up to 25?

    • CrazyClock
      on Nov 29, 2019

      Growing up (in the 1960s), I remember advent calendars having the dates that were all mixed up because it made the process of hunting, discovering and opening each day more fun .  . Man, we loved those.

  • Tina Wensink
    Tina Wensink
    on Nov 7, 2020

    Beautiful way to make a calendar!! I love that you also put in a cheesy joke for each day too.

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