Family Photo Christmas Countdown Calendar

Count down the days until Christmas with a calendar featuring your favorite family photos. Our step-by-step instructions detail how to craft this holiday keepsake.


What You'll Need

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  • 12x16 wooden plaque
  • Green acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Silver leafing kit (optional)
  • Photocopies of old letters, postcard backs, recipes, etc.
  • Mod Podge matte-finish decoupage medium
  • Foam brush
  • White or cream tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • Tracing paper and 8-1/2x11-inch sheet of green patterned paper (or large letter stickers)
  • Two 8-1/2x11-inch sheets each of pale green and light green cardstock
  • Crafts glue
  • Computer, scanner, and ink-jet printer
  • 8-1/2x11 sheet of WaterSlide Inkjet Decal paper
  • Clear acrylic spray varnish
  • A bowl of water
  • Pencil
  • 25 small silver nails
  • Hammer
  • Spray adhesive
  • 2-ply museum board
  • Family photos
  • White paper
  • Crafts knife
  • Straightedge
  • Ice pick or hole punch
  • 25 green mini eyelets
  • Number stamps and stamp pads: green, white, and red (or numbered stickers in green, white, and red).

How to Make It

1. Paint the routed edged of the wooden plaque green. Optional: When the paint is dry, apply silver leafing to front section of the routed edge following the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Referring to the photograph of the finished project, arrange photocopied letters, postcards, and recipes on the front of the plaque; trim to fit. Apply Mod Podge to the backs of the paper pieces with a foam brush and press them into place. Immediately brush over each piece with Mod Podge. When dry, decoupage tissue paper over the front of the plaque. Trim off any excess tissue paper from the edges of the plaque; let dry.

3. Create letter patterns on tracing paper; cut out. Place the patterns front side down onto the back of the green patterned paper and trace; cut out. Cut a 10x2-1/2-inch rectangle from pale green cardstock. Position the letters to spell "FAMILY" on the cardstock rectangle; glue into place. Center and glue the cardstock rectangle to the plaque 1-1/2 inches from the top edge. Apply a final coat of Mod Podge over the entire plaque front. Tip: You also can use large letter stickers to spell "FAMILY." Or, to make your own letter patterns, type "FAMILY" into a word-processing document on your computer. Pick a font, and size the type to fit on the cardstock rectangle. Print and trace onto tracing paper.

4. Use your computer to type "Tis the season for" in the desired font; adjust the text size to 1 inch tall. Print the saying onto a sheet of clear Water-Slide Ink-jet Decal paper. Apply several thin coats of spray varnish to the printed decal paper until the sheet has an even shine. Let the varnish dry.

5. Trim the decal about 1/8 inch from the text. Soak the decal in a bowl of water until the saying begins to slip on the backing paper. Remove the backing and position the decal on the plaque, aligning the bottom of the saying with the top edge of the cardstock rectangle. Smooth the decal onto the surface from the center out.

6. Use a pencil to lightly mark the placement of the nails for hanging the numbered squares. Begin at the vertical center of the plaque, one inch below the cardstock rectangle. Mark five vertical rows of five dots, spacing the rows 2 inches apart and leaving 2-1/8 inches between the dots in each row. Hammer nails at the marks.

7. To make the number cards, spray one side of the remaining pale and light green cardstock with adhesive. Press the cardstock onto the museum board; let dry.

8. Scan or use digital copies of family photos. Using image-editing software, crop as desired and size each photo to measure 1-3/4 inches square. Convert color photos to black-and-white and print onto white paper. Cut out the photos and use spray adhesive to mount them to the side of the museum board without the cardstock. (One side of the finished square will be covered with cardstock, the other with a photo.) Trim around each photo into a 1-3/4-inch square with a crafts knife and a straightedge. Use an ice pick or a hole punch to make a hole through the top center of each photo square (1/8 inch below the top). Apply a mini eyelet at each hole.

9. Plan the order of photos in five rows of five photos. When you're pleased with the arrangement, turn the photos over. Beginning at the top left and working across the rows, use white, green, and red ink to stamp the numbers 1-25 on the cardstock side of the photo squares. Optional: To make it easier, use number stickers instead of stamps.

10. Hang the squares number side out on the plaque. Turn over one square each day in December until Christmas.

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