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DIY Christmas Countdown Gift Bags

2013 November 30
by Becky


We’re still in Hawaii through the first part of December, but I wanted to share a little holiday project!

Since last Christmas I’ve been thinking about beginning a tradition of a Christmas Countdown to help Ethan figure out WHEN exactly Santa will arrive. For these little guys, it feels like the big day will never get here! And after Ethan loved using a simple printed calendar to count down days till our Hawaii vacation, I knew he’d be over the moon for a holiday version.

I was sure about one thing—little linen bags. How cute would they look strung up and down the staircase? But finding them was a little tricky, especially ones that were big enough to fit decent sized gifts. So when I found these on, I was sold. They are 5″ x 6″, plenty big, and the total was $27 for 24 bags with a 15% off online coupon, making them $1.12 each. No way I could make them for that price! Plus I was a little squeezed on time this year.

Time to stencil…


I used my Silhouette cutting machine to cut out numbers in card stock, using the font called, ready for this? “Stencil”. I cut apart all the numbers and got to stenciling. Using a regular paint brush and some Folk Art brand Acrylic Paint in Yellow Citron (which is actually lime green), I quickly painted numbers on each bag. I used a folded piece of scrap paper in the bag to keep the paint from seeping through to the back.


I used the typical tapping motion with my brush to keep the paint within the stencil area and had no issues…this muslin fabric soaked the paint right up and only took a few minutes to dry. Using a piece of painters tape helped keep the numbers in place, especially when I got into double digits. All in all it took about 20 minutes to get 24 bags stenciled.

Time to stuff…


Since Ethan has his own little Christmas tree this year, ornaments and other tree trimmings seemed to be a good daily surprise. Most of them are from Hobby Lobby—they have 50% off almost all of their holiday decorations beginning in October—so I picked up about 19 cute (and durable) ornaments at prices of $1.99 – $3.99 each. I also grabbed a mini tree skirt and star topper, both half off. For the remaining days I decided to give books—Ethan’s school recently had their Scholastic book order so I was sure to stock up on inexpensive new books that will entertain Ethan and provide points for his teachers! The books won’t fit in the bags of course, I’ll instead add a little note he can exchange for the book.

Then to hang…


I have a new house to decorate this year! Always fun/challenging. I hit up Hobby Lobby again for 50% off faux garland, as my old stash wasn’t going to cut it. Our new houses’ staircase is about five times bigger than any we’ve had in the past. And while I used to go for the real thing, this year everything has been converted to artificial. I have mixed feelings but know that in the end, our fake tree and garlands will last through the holidays while the real stuff would be on the floor long before. What’s fun about decorating for Christmas if you only get to enjoy it for a couple weeks?!


We wrapped short light strings around the garland and swooped it along the railings, using zip ties to secure, then I used the little drawstrings on the bags to tie each one to a spindle. Day 1 is at the top of the stairs, closest to Ethan’s room, while Day 24 is at the bottom, closest to the tree and fireplace.

Luckily Ethan didn’t notice the bags before we left for our trip, I really wanted to wait till we get back to start opening. I guess he’ll get to open several together since we’ll miss a few days in December?


Overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I added some faux poinsettias— I have a huge stash that I stick all over the house—and will probably hang a few ornaments on the garland when we get back. Since we left a whole day early for our trip, I was rushing to get these decorations done so they’d be ready to enjoy upon our arrival.


While I feel like the cost for the whole project was very low, I wasn’t afraid to invest a little money in making something that will withstand years of use. I envision adding ornaments from vacations and special events (like the little hula girl I picked up on this trip) so soon each day’s gift has special meaning. And I may not be buying new books every year, instead just bringing out the same holiday favorites year after year.

Especially since I put a strict moratorium on holiday books/songs beginning December 30. :)


I love how the outside view of the stair case is strictly decoration, while the inside is a personal project for our family to enjoy each day of December. Hopefully Ethan will like it too!

What do you do for a holiday countdown?

5 Responses
  1. Grandpa Joe permalink
    December 1, 2013

    Great decorating and Count-Down idea.

  2. December 1, 2013

    love it!!

  3. Linda Johnson permalink
    December 4, 2013

    I too love the idea. Your staircase looks beautiful.
    Happy Holiday!

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