Make your own DIY Advent calendar to help your family count down to Christmas. Mini galvanized buckets are all it takes to create a beautiful farmhouse look! 


This farmhouse-inspired craft is our favorite way to celebrate the Christmas season! Attach miniature pails to a wood sign to create a lasting DIY advent calendar you'll love to display. You can pre-stuff these advent pails, or fill them with something new each day. We recommend candies, baked treats, gift cards, small toys, and even hints for activities that day, like movie tickets.

rustic bucket advent calendar leaning against wall on wooden table
Credit: Adam Albright

How to Make a Bucket Advent Calendar

Supplies Needed

  • 18×29-inch piece of thin plywood (such as 1/4-inch lauan)
  • 1×2 board cut into two 27 1/2-inch lengths and two 18-inch lengths
  • Wood glue
  • Nails and hammer (or nail gun and brad nails)
  • Polyurethane wood stain
  • Foam brush
  • Stencil plastic
  • Crafts knife
  • Repositionable spray adhesive
  • Acrylic paint: cream
  • Stencil brush
  • 25—2-inch-tall galvanized pails with wire handles removed (such as mini galvanized metal pails from Oriental Trading Co.)
  • Drill and 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Saw-toothed picture hanger
  • 3/4-inch-tall vinyl numbers: black
  • 25—1 1/2-inch round wooden disks with holes
  • Hand riveter
  • 1/8×1/4-inch aluminum rivets
  • 1/8-inch washers
  • Small common nail
  • Wide ribbon: burlap and striped ticking
  • Artificial greenery
  • Pinecone
  • Artificial cotton stems
  • Florists wire

Step-by-Step Instructions

You can make the full 25-day Advent calendar display using our helpful step-by-step instructions and free template below. Customize your calendar to fit your holiday decor.

Step 1: Build the Frame

Begin making the Advent calendar by choosing a large piece of plywood that is big enough to hold the number of buckets you want to include. We used a piece of plywood that measures 18 inches by 29 inches. To cut down on time spent crafting or to simplify the project, look for a large wood tray rather than creating a framed box from scratch. 

To make the framed box, use wood glue to adhere a 3/4-inch-wide edge around the advent calendar. Attach a 27 1/2-inch-long 1×2 to the long edges of the plywood. Nail the boards to the plywood at the ends and center. Then glue and nail the 18-inch-long 1×2s to the short edges of the plywood. This will create a nice framed box. Use a foam brush to brush polyurethane wood stain over the entire frame. Wipe off excess stain and let the box dry completely before continuing the project.

Step 2: Stencil and Paint

Download our free 'Noel' stencil and trace the pattern onto stencil plastic. Cut out the letters from the stenicl plastic with a crafts knife, or cut out the template using a machine that can cut vinyl stencils. Using repositionable spray adhesive, adhere the stencil to the center top of the plywood inside the frame. You don't want your stencil to stay on the piece, so make sure you're able to remove it before you start painting. When the stencil is in place, dab cream paint into stencil openings using a stencil brush. Remove the stencil and let the paint dry completely.

While the stencil is drying, you can prep your pails! 

Get the Free Noel Template

Step 3: Make Bucket Advent Calendar

To turn miniature pails into daily buckets for your Advent calendar, look for small round wooden disks with holes, along with a set of number stickers—usually available at craft stores. Apply a vinyl or sticker number, 1 through 25, to each wooden disk, then thread disks onto small aluminum rivets and thread each rivet through a pail handle hole. Use a hand riveter to secure the disks to the pails.

Arrange the pails in the frame in five rows (five pails in each row), spacing each pail 3 inches apart. Poke a marker or pencil through each handle hole to mark where the pail should be on the plywood. Wait to drill any holes until the paint from using the stencil is dry. When you're ready, remove the pails and use a 1/8-inch drill bit to drill a hole through the plywood at each mark. This is a good time to mount the a picture hanger on the top center back of frame if you want to hang your advent calendar. 

Step 4: Finish and Display

To attach the pails to the plywood, thread a rivet from the inside of the pail through the handle hole that does not have a disc attached. Add a washer and then thread the rivet through the plywood, then add a second washer on the back of the plywood and use the hand riveter to secure the pail. Repeat until all pails are secured to your DIY advent calendar.

If you want to add more decoration to your advent calendar, hammer a small nail halfway into the top center of the frame. Tie burlap and ribbon into a bow (you may want to use our 4-step how-to to help you make the perfect bow). Layer the bows and wire together using florists wire. Add in greenery, pinecones, and cotton stems, then center the arrangement at top of frame, securing wire around the nail at the top center of the frame. When you've finished the Advent calendar, make a gorgeous farmhouse holiday sign to carry the rustic theme throughout your Christmas decor. 


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