DIY 2017 Planner

Earlier in January I decided to make a planner to keep track of our appointments, activities, and work schedules for the new year. We used a beautiful Rifle Paper Co. wall calendar in our kitchen last year that worked really well for us. Rather than go buy a new one for 2017, though, I decided to get a little thrifty and use materials we already had. I can never pass up a good crafting challenge.

We didn’t have the right kind of paper for another wall calendar in the kitchen, so I decided to go with a planner-style project. I found this small binder we had in with our crafting things, and it had unused paper and plastic sleeves inside. Jackpot!

Since Anne and I both love the aesthetic of what Anna Bond creates for Rifle Paper Co., I chose to cut out each month’s painted font from our 2016 calendar to use in our new planner. I mounted each one onto a piece of colored paper using double-sided tape, and then mounted that onto a piece of graph paper to fill the entire plastic sleeve.

Each section/month has five pieces of paper behind it: The first page says, “Monthly Notes,” where we’ve been writing things like monthly goals and things we’d like to accomplish this month. The next four pages have a weekly calendar view from Monday to Sunday. (Yes, I wrote this out 52 times. It was worth it!) I’m so happy with how that layout worked out.

The other fun thing that our new planner has is a space for our meal planning sheets. We slide them in the back of each month’s plastic sleeve, and take them out when we’re deciding what to cook/bake every weekend. We did this style of meal planning last year and we had a lot of success with it. We ended up making so many different kinds of foods, and now we use last year’s notes to help guide us this year:

We have been loving using our new planner. It’s so easy to keep track of all the things we have going on, and it keeps us organized in a lot of different ways: meal planning, monthly goals, daily activities, birthdays, holidays, you name it. The best part is that we still keep it in the kitchen. It sits happily next to our favorite cookbooks and our beloved recipe box — which is also Rifle Paper Co.!

Are you keeping a wall calendar or planner this year? What kinds of things do you keep track of?

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DIY Advent Calendar

Late last week, I was inspired to create my very first advent calendar.  I was catching up on posts from A Beautiful Mess, a lifestyle blog I follow, and came across this DIY project.  I’ve thought of making an advent calendar in years past, but never had enough foresight to create it before December began.  Now that the calendar is finished, it will certainly bring a lot of holiday cheer into our cozy apartment this season!

Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess was kind enough to share a PDF of the advent numbers in her blog post.  When I noticed that some of her numbers were missing in the download, I wrote to her in the comments section.  She got back to me very quickly, and fixed the download the following day!  It was so nice to receive a personal response from such a well-known blogger.

I posted two process pictures (below) on Instagram of my DIY advent calendar, and couldn’t believe when Elsie not only “liked” both of the pictures, but also commented, “Looks great!” on the first one below!  I felt starstruck.  What’s more, Elsie’s activity on my two pictures brought a lot of new traffic to my Instagram profile; I received over 80 likes on the first picture, plus new followers!

I completed this project over the course of two days.  There were more steps to it than I had anticipated, and crafting + taking pictures of crafting = a lot of time per project.  Here’s how I made my DIY advent calendar!

Step 1: Download and print Elsie’s advent numbers onto soft white text weight paper from Paper Source.  (I printed my numbers at a scale of 65%.)  Using a paper cutter, cut the numbers into uniform-sized cards.  Lay a large piece of butcher or craft paper on the floor and arrange your numbers in a tree formation.

Step 2: Move the numbers to the side and turn your large paper over.  Create square edges by folding over uneven sides and taping them to the paper.

Step 3: With the help of another set of hands and eyes, hang your large paper in a desired location using clear push-pins.

Step 4: Set up an assembly line of numbers, string, scissors, washi tape, and mini clothespins.  (These clothespins are sold in a pack of 25, however I somehow lost one over the years, leaving me with 24.  I decided to use a regular-sized clothespin for number 1, and really love how it looks as a tree topper — not shown below!)  Cut washi tape into square segments and then diagonally into triangles.  This will allude to the shape of a tree.  Finally, tape the string to the paper making sure to hold it taut.  Snip off the ends of the string close to the tape.

Step 5: Continue this process until you reach the bottom of the tree.  Clip on all of the numbers with clothespins to confirm that they sit nicely.  Then, step back and admire your hard work!

Step 6: Using a thin Sharpie, unclip the numbers one by one and write down winter- or holiday-related activities under each number on the large paper.  That way, you can reuse the number cards in future years for different activities.  (My December activities are fun and simple surprises for Anne and me, so for her sake, I can only share one with you here!)

When December hits, unclip your card to reveal the activity of the day.  Then, turn the card over and clip it on backwards.  That will allow you to keep all of the cards up at once, plus know the current date.  By Christmas, you’ll have a white paper tree decoration that no one would ever know was an advent calendar!

What do you think of this DIY project?  Will you try making your own advent calendar this holiday season?  There are so many alternatives to the usual candy-filled advent calendar that I challenge you to come up with your own way of doing it.  Tag your creations on Instagram with #scissorsandsage and @victoriaavitale so that I can see what you’re working on!