Punchdown to Christmas

I love interactive advent calendars.  I wanted to make the ultimate interactive, fun advent calendar.  So, I made it like a carnival game.  I wanted something fun for the boys each day leading up to Christmas.  What better than a punch game?  Each day the boys get to punch out their prize.  This year I am keeping it simple with just a few pieces of candy for each day.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

I ended up with a sort of country-style board, which I did not intend, but I kind of like it.  I used bulletin board paper from Michael’s with a driftwood design.  It is larger than wrapping paper and thicker.  It is also pretty inexpensive at $7.99 + 40% off coupon.  I found this cute teal tissue paper with a subtle evergreen tree pattern at Target.  It should only take 2-3 sheets of tissue paper.  For the “Christmas Countdown” title, I simply printed the words out in dark grey with my laser printer.  Then I cut them out and glued them on the finished board.  If you are like me and do not have an electric cutter, the best way to cut letters by hand is to keep the font large and simple.  For Christmas I used the Rosewood font, which is large chunky letters with a carnival feel.  I just cut out the whole word leaving a little white space around the letters.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

To create  your own punch game:


  • Tri-Fold Display Board or Cardboard Box
  • 25 Brown Paper Lunch Bags + 1 extra
  • Tissue Paper
  • Decorative Paper or Wrapping Paper
  • Number Stamps, Stickers, or Marker
  • Candy or small gifts

Step by Step:

1.  Cut the bottom of the extra brown paper bag off to use as a template.  Trace the bag bottom 25 times on the cardboard in 5 rows of 5 about 1 inch apart.  I used a try-fold cardboard display board.  The flaps help it stand up.  You could also use a cardboard box.  A flat piece of cardboard will not work as well, since the brown paper bags would stick out the back.

3.  Cut out each of the rectangles.  You can use a box cutter or try my personal favorite…a serrated knife.  I just poke the knife through and use it like a saw.  Be careful.  It does not need to be pretty.

DIY Punch Game Advent Calendar

4.  Before going further, lay down a piece of decorative paper large enough to cover the cardboard.  Lay it face down.  Lay your cardboard on top.  Either trace the rectangles or trace a circle within each rectangle.  I used a round cookie cutter to trace my circles.  I traced them at random heights within the rectangles. DIY Punch Game Advent Calendar

5.  Cut the top off the other 25 paper bags.  I cut mine just above the folded over bottom, but if you want to use larger candy or gifts keep the bags longer.  Cut a one inch slit in each corner of all 25 paper bags.  Then fold down the flaps.  They will fit into the rectangle holes like so:

DIY Punch Game Advent Calendar

6.  Apply glue to the underside of each flap on a paper bag.  Push the bag into one of the rectangle holes.  Press the flaps to adhere them to the surrounding cardboard.  Repeat with the other 24 bags. DIY Punch Game Advent Calendar

DIY Punch Game Advent Calendar

7.  Stamp the numbers 1-25 on the tissue paper.  Ensure to space out the numbers.  Cut out each number slightly larger than the size of your circle openings or rectangles.  I used my favorite Martha Stewart rubber number stamps for this part.  I got them a few years ago at Michaels.  Not sure if they are still available.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

8.  On the backside of your decorative paper, use a glue stick to apply a ring of glue around the first circle.  Apply the piece of tissue with number 1 face down and press into glue.  Make sure you start in the upper right corner with your numbers, so when you flip it around the numbers read normally left to right.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

9.  Place candy or gifts in each bag.  Apply a bead of Elmer’s glue or use mod podge in the spaces around the brown paper bag pockets.  Line up your decorative paper and press into the glue, covering the cardboard.  The tissue paper should line up over your paper bag openings.  My hubby had to help me try to get it lined up right and it was still a little wonky (more noticeable because of the linear print on my paper).  If I were to do this again, I would lay the paper face down and set candies on top of each tissue circle.  I would apply lines of glue to the paper between the rows and then lay the cardboard face down on top to adhere the paper to the front of the board.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

10.  Wrap the excess paper around the corners of your cardboard and tape.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

Now it is time to start the punching!  Punch one opening each day until Christmas.  My son was delighted to pull out to tootsie rolls and two mini candy canes to share with his brother today.

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

DIY Advent Calendar Punch Game

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15 Responses to Punch Game Advent Calendar {Tutorial}

  1. Very cute! I hope you’ll visit The Corson Cottage and share this at our {Home for the Holidays} Link Party. Carrie

  2. That is brilliant! My son would love this idea. I think he is a bit over those candy ones you buy in the stores!

    I am hosting a 12 Days of Christmas series at my blog and if you have time to visit I would be so thrilled if you could join in and link up this Advent Calendar to my Advent party!

    Best Christmas wishes,

  3. Rochelle says:

    That is AMAZING! I love love love this idea. It would be so hard to let the kids punch it out, I’d want to fight them for it! :) I’ve got to do this!

  4. Louisa says:

    What a cool calendar! I love the idea of doing something similar as a party game.

  5. Sara says:

    So darling!! Would LOVE it if you would link this up for next week’s turquoise lovin’ party! ;) http://www.sweetlittlegals.com/

  6. Sara says:

    Oh and that’s going to be on Tuesday!

  7. Holly says:

    This is such a great idea! I have 2 boys, and I’m guessing they would like this a lot more than reading a little numbered card for each day :) I love how it looks too, really amazing job. Found you on TT&J!

  8. I love this idea! Plus our house theme is really rustic beach style so this fits in PERFECTLY.

    I found you through Dittle Dattle’s link party, so glad I did!

  9. taci says:

    I.LOVE.Your.BLOG !!!
    SOOOOO cute! I love what you wrote with your picture- tooo cute! And this idea is fantastic!

  10. Amy says:

    This is SO FUN! You are one awesome mama. I’m definitely doing this next year for my kids.

  11. a very cool idea!!

    I linked to your tutorial on my blog – thanks for sharing!

    doro K.

  12. angie says:

    Hi, I love this advent calendar and am in the process of trying to recreate it for my kids… however i’m wondering if there was a step missed, where you cut out the circles. do you have tips on how to do this cleanly, i’ve done a couple and they are quite jagged. Thanks!

    • Jackie says:

      Angie, It has been a while, but from what I recall, I cut out each circle with a sharp xacto or box cutting knife on top of a cutting mat. It was definitely the most time consuming part and I insisted on circles. Certainly, squares or triangles would be easier to cut. Best of luck to you. I think this punch game advent goes down in history as one of our favorites!

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