As I promised you, I am back after the holiday season to give you my “Personalized Advent Calendar” challenge feedbacks, which we agreed on doing last Christmas with Lionel, Noemie and Candice.
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that this idea came up after a 2018 Christmas without advent calendar (“Ooooh poor girl…”). I convinced my friends to exchange a personalized advent calendar for Christmas 2019 (my SO was motivated to receive one too but not to prepare one for me… smart one!)
So I had to do 24 gifts for 4 different persons: well OK… I didn’t choose the easiest way… but the good news is, I knew I would receive 3 calendars in return!
You’ve probably already seen on my Instagram stories what we’ve got during this beautiful month of December: in a nutshell… Magical!
So I decided to write down here (in details as much as possible) our feedbacks in order to motivate you to do the same for one (or more) of your loved one next year…. who knows!
I couldn’t list all the gifts (you can find them all on my Instagram Stories here here and there) but you will see a few while reading this article… The most important is to find yourself the gift ideas because it must be personalized! The Christmas tree might be gone (not at my place yet!) but it’s already time to think about next Christmas!
When to start the preparation?
Tshirt and headband gifted by Noémie
I organized this article as it was an interview: so you will have all the feedbacks from our TACEC (= “The Advent Calendar Expert Committee”), which will help to better understand the challenge. First question: when did we start preparing these Advent Calendars?
TKBB : “Since January 2019 by creating a note on my smartphone for each person, in order to list all my ideas but I only started to buy the first surprises during my trips to Japan and London (May-June 2019). At the end of August, Christmas was finally approaching quickly so I started to get more seriously into this challenge.
For the yummy calendar for my SO (he only wanted food), I started in November-December buying day by day his treats.”
LIONEL : “End of January 2019 after TKBB said “I saved the world with my Miss France playlist” (Editor’s note: indeed, this was an important detail considering the surprise 24th of my calendar)
NOÉMIE : “Since January 2019. I created a note on my smartphone right away and wrote down every day my ideas. I purchased the first gift around spring. Then, I brought back a few things from my travels and purchased most of the gifts in September. I was really looking forward to the Christmas items being available in stores.”
CANDICE : « I might have started to think about ideas the first week of November 2019, but I really started speeding up the process the week of November 15th and everything was done on the 20th to hand them over.″
What budget ?
Fake banknotes for a good moment together gifted by Candice
I will give you a global answer as we didn’t define a real budget at the very beginning: we just had to make sure the surprise would fit in the box/pocket and for the sake of minimalism (more or less!) I told them to avoid useless things (= I didn’t want to end up receiving multiple cute small items, if they were cute, they had to be useful too). Overall, each surprise was around 5€-10€ (with a few exceptions).
When I was talking about this challenge to other people, quite often the answer was “wooow but it’s about €100-€200 per calendar! Much more expensive than one you could buy!” (I would say that if you start thinking this way, well this “Personalized Advent Calendar challenge” isn’t for you!)
Even though we have to admit that this kind of budget might not be easy for everyone. But this being said, if you buy all along the year, it might be easier and when we love… we don’t count, do we?
And, if you want to try with a smaller budget (and start a real challenge!), you can create yourself all the surprises (kitchen, DIY, small handmade items) or intangible gifts (words, souvenirs, pictures…). You can mix a bit of everything: the most important is the intention and the heart you will put into it!
TKBB : “With the constraint of creating 4 calendars, I used paper pockets for my 3 friends that I put into boxes or customized bags. I made one in wood for my SO (let’s rather say for both of us) to be able to use it again every year. It was a real pleasure to prepare all these pockets and boxes along with a kind note every day.”
LIONEL : “I found a wooden box from IKEA that I customized and filed with decorated paper kraft pockets = I thought that the wooden box could be reused after to store the Christmas decorations » (Editor’s note: I approved this idea and now use it to store Christmas ornaments!)
NOÉMIE : “I used a set of small houses in paper to fold and filled them with surprises and fake snow » (Editor’s note: very pretty and original but I was spreading it all over the place so I was kind of oblige to open them on top of my trash bin !).
CANDICE : “I found a piece of wood in the countryside and hung up all the surprises after wrapping them in multicolor gift papers”
What content ?
Anti-worry doll and magical stones gifted by Candice and Lionel
You’ve often asked me some ideas or names of store where to find surprises. Rather than giving you names of shops, here are our answers to this question: Where and how did we find inspiration/ideas?
TKBB : “For the food, I was deciding based on the taste of each of them when I was entering a shop or traveling (Candice’s favorite tea, Noémie loving American sweets, a private joke about Mon Chéri chocolate for Lionel…) I tried to include all kinds of chocolate while always choosing quality stores.
Fake Taylor Swift “Lover” CD album cover for Noémie, Magical ticket for Lionel,
Customized pouch for Candice and a few surprises I offered.
As for the rest, I tried to think about every single word we said while being together to find a surprise related (favorite star, little story, item that makes us laugh… everything can be turned into little surprises). I also created myself a few gifts (drawings, DIY pocket, fake magazine cover, fake CD cover…).”
Fake magazine cover I made for Candice
LIONEL : “I was writing down a list on my phone every time I had an inspiration in a shop, on the Internet or during our discussions. I tried to stick to her hobbies while avoiding useless items. “
“Dawson’s Creek” playlist gifted by Lionel thanks to a QRcode giving access to a homemade file which contains a list
of all the seasons and scenes corresponding of each song <3
NOÉMIE : “Since I was a kid my family has been calling me “The Queen of the gifts” as I always have a lot of ideas. Traveling helped me as I always brought back something. I always chose a few things I would have loved having. I listened what she was saying and of course… her passion for Lotso! I looked for nice and useful items but also related to me (for example the olive oil home made with olives from my garden). I mixed a bit of her and a bit of me.» (Editor’s Note: Soo beautiful! <3).”
“Dirty Dancing” socks gifted by Noémie
CANDICE : “In the stores, on the Internet… and while thinking about her when I was entering a shop”
Beauty products gifted by Lionel et Noémie and the oh-so-useful cotton swabs from Candice
The + and the –
Tree ornaments gifted by Lionel et Noémie
Because sometimes we faced difficulties or we found things obvious: what seemed the easiest and the most difficult in creating this calendar?
TKBB : The easiest : “The food (as very gourmand person, I loved wandering around shops to find different original AND good products”
The most difficult : “Try to create 4 different Advent Calendars and not just doing copy/paste to make each of them unique”
LIONEL : The easiest : “I started early in order to really think about the 24 days and make it personalized as much as possible”
The most difficult : “To keep it small so that it could be carried out (even though I gave her a huge wooden box!) and to limit the useless things.”
Cute AND useful Toy Story goodies mignons gifted by Noémie et Lionel
NOÉMIE : The easiest : “I found ideas quite easily but it got much more complicated after the number 17th”
The most difficult : “I got a lot of pressure about not buying useless things as she repeatedly told me to do so. Lionel secretly told me what he had found for her so I started to have doubts.” (Editor’s note: ahah! Sorry for the stress.. and there was no reason to doubt as I liked (and used) everything!)
CANDICE : The easiest : “to create the calendar: small boxes, nodes.. in a nutshell all the manual activities! “
The most difficult : “To find 24 different ideas… So I found a way to use one gift to fill 2 to 3 days (one pair of socks to fill 2 days, one reusable cotton bud for her, and one for her SO to fill 2 days too…)”
A few advices from our expert committee
Tea, chocolate, hot chocolate gifted by Lionel, Candice et Noémie
So here are a few advices to help you creating your Advent Calendar with love, effectiveness and serenity!
TKBB : “Always think about the receiver, anecdotes, moments spent together, his/her tastes : everything (a color, a meal, a movie scene…) can give you the opportunity to find a surprise or create a small gift. You’d better start early enough if you want to do it with your own hands for something more personal. Always write a note along your surprise to explain: I loved writing and reading them… it might even be my favorite part.
For the yummy calendar, the food was not always fitting the spaces, so instead I was placing a small note with a tip to find the yummy surprise in our apartment: my SO seemed to appreciate, waiting for his « Treasure hunting » every morning”
LIONEL : “Always think « What would please her/him? » instead of « What idea shall I find?”. Start early. Buy the food at the end even though you’d rather think about it in advance. Take a picture of each gift so you can remember what he/she will have every day.”
Electronic book to download “Esprit d’hiver” by Laura Kasischke and rainbow Post-its rainbow gifted by Lionel
NOÉMIE : “Think about the common Christmas gift: candles, tree ornaments, small cookies, teas… and adapt it to the receiver (as I knew she had bought a fake Christmas tree, the idea of a candle with Christmas tree smell came up naturally for exemple). Note everything on a list on your phone and then organize the different days (distribute homogeneously the chocolate and other pleasures along the month). Alternate gift, homemade DIY and small personal touches. Write a small note for each day. And the most important question: Is it useful? Or is it going to end up in a box somewhere? »”
CANDICE : “Start early to find various ideas without stress”
To do it again for Christmas 2020, or not?
TKBB : “Super motivated! This being said, I think I already found all the « classical » ideas (tea, chocolate, treats…) and even though I wouldn’t mind doing it again, I think we’d better find another idea of challenge for the next time (Budget restriction? With a specific color? Theme?… to meditate!) in order to keep some surprise and magic! Anyways, these calendar really made my month of December beautiful, I loved it!”
LIONEL : “Yes, because it’s really cool to open one window every morning. However, it might be better to find a new idea of challenge so we won’t be repetitive with the ideas. With Sylvain (my beloved), we might create one together (with 12 days each) to avoid having too many things and also because looking at the other one opening his surprise every morning is also a nice present.”
NOÉMIE : “I could do it again yes. It was cool! I think I would buy the containers or I’d think about it differently. I would try to keep it simple and wait a little bit more before buying anything. I purchased a few things last Spring… that felt a bit useless for Christmas. Also, I wouldn’t wait the last minute to finish everything!”
CANDICE : ” With pleasure… and pretty much the same way but I would start a bit earlier for a better organisation!”
So? So? Are you going to try one for 2020? (English translation by Quiterie)