Mum’s £20 Mega Book Advent Calendar Gets A Big Thumbs-Up
- Keen crafter Renata Kostialova, 40, made the huge advent calendar for her bookworm son
- Cost her just £20 thanks to a bargain book haul and some leftover craft materials. Plus, it took two hours to make
- Idea is a hit on social media, with “around 4.3k likes and 800 comments” on Facebook
The pitter-patter of little feet rushing to open their advent calendars is a magical part of any family Christmas. If you’ve a bookworm in your brood, then why not take inspiration from Renata Kostialova, who made this wall-mounted mega book advent calendar especially for her son Harry, 2.
The crafty mum, 40, from Leeds, who works as a payroll and accounts coordinator in recruitment, is thrilled with the craft which cost £20 to make and took just two hours.
“I’m always looking for budget ways to recreate or improve on items that I have seen in the shops,” she told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “I’ve had lots of crafty ideas during lockdown, as I’ve had a bit more time on my hands, so my hidden talents started pouring out.
“I’m a single mum and we live in a fairly small flat, so I’m always looking for fun and space-saving ways to decorate and display my crafts, and my number one inspiration is my son,” she continues. “I was sat looking at the bare wall in his room, and the idea for the mega book advent calendar just popped into my head.
“He’s only young, but he’s recently started taking more of an interest in books and reading, so I thought it would be something we could enjoy together. I could have put the books in a nice box under the Christmas tree, but I wanted something that was very visual and on display.”
Renata managed to get the books she needed for a bargain price.
“The Works had a £10 for 10 books offer on, so I got two batches – it was the best £20 I ever spent,” she says.
"I had the other four books spare at home to add," she said. "Plus, I already had the wrapping paper, the white card for the number cutouts, and the clear glue dots at home from previous crafts.”
While Harry was napping, Renata set to work.
“It took just two hours in total,” she said. “Wrapping the 24 books took me around one hour. For the last parcel, marked 24th Dec, there was an obvious choice: The Night Before Christmas.
Cutting out the numbers and gluing them on took additional 30 minutes, as did sticking them to the wall.
“This part was really easy to do, as I used clear glue dots so as not to damage the wall,” she said.
She also added some stickers for extra fun.
“When Harry woke up to the surprise his face was just a picture.”
Renata shared her festive craft on social media, which earned her thousands of positive reactions.
“I posted my idea in a Facebook group I’m in that offers hints and tips for families to stay busy and entertained during lockdown, and within a couple of days it became really popular with around 4.3k likes and 800 comments,” she says. “I never expected that.
“People have been really nice and supportive and full of praise, which is really great. And many of them were thankful, saying they are also going to try it, which I found very flattering.”
All that’s left to do is for Harry to start ripping open his daily reading material.
“December is just around the corner, and we are really excited to start opening the books before bedtime,” she says. “I have some more surprises in store for my little man, too.”
If you want to recreate the mega book advent calendar, Renata says to just have fun with it.
“Use your imagination and don’t overthink it,” she advises. “It’s fairly simple, as books are easy objects to wrap. If cutting the numbers out free hand is holding you up, just factor in a bit more time to sketch them out first – it’ll be worth it for the final result.”
The creative mum is now turning her attention to some new projects.
“I love art and crafts – it puts me in my happy place,” says Renata. “Seasonal holidays always provide inspiration. I like to get my little boy involved with everything I do. It’s great for his mind, skills development, and imagination. Plus, it keeps him busy.
“In the run-up to Christmas, we’ve hand-made Christmas cards for family and friends, as well as other advent calendars, such as a huge snowman filled with 24 Kinder Surprise eggs,” she says. “I’ve also made Christmas wreaths from twigs we have found on our daily walks.
More favourites are the Santa posters that Renata made for her son’s friends.
“They set them the task of creating Santa’s fluffy beard in time for Christmas Eve,” she explains. “There are 24 circles – one for each day – that need some white puffs of cotton wool to be stuck to them. When the kids add the last cotton wool balls, they know that Santa will come that night.”
Renata has also made personalised Santa sacks for family members, and is all set to decorate her tree, which is going to be themed with mini construction vehicles complete with a crane driven by a Santa as the tree topper. She’s also planning on making a temporary fireplace out of cardboard boxes.
“I had some people asking me where I find the time with work and a child, or why I don't just buy ready-made versions, but I think there’s something very therapeutic in making your own things. Hand-made items have a different value. And of course, seeing my child happy is just priceless.”
Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “Handmade doesn't have to mean hard work. Sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most effective. Plus, your creations will have huge sentimental value.
“Christmas is a brilliant time to get creative by making some extra gifts for friends and family.
“A recent poll of LatestDeals.co.uk community members revealed that the majority (52%) of people had earmarked £20-50 for Christmas gifts per person this year and 2% we're choosing not to exchange presents. If budget is an issue, crafting your own gifts is a great way to show someone you care while keeping an eye on your outgoings.”
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