Make your own chocolate advent calendar

Now I admit, I probably didn’t approach the issue in the best way. I should have known. It’s not as if I’m particularly new to this parenting lark. I know the rules. Parenting Rule number 537 states that a short sharp, direct approach, out of the blue, will not seamlessly shift offspring on to the next stage of development. Too quick. Too sudden.

No. It requires carefully placed, crafted hints being casually dropped for weeks beforehand. Like a trail of breadcrumbs leading them to their own discovery of the need to move up a level. Preparing the ground. I knew that. I’m not a rookie.

Not that that stopped me. When I look back, I made the classic mistake and I was doomed to fail from the moment I drew breath to speak.

All three offspring were in the kitchen. I seized the moment. I announced, in a nonchalent manner, that everyone was too old for chocolate advent calendars this year. My follow up argument about single use plastic would have won them over, but I played it too late. I felt some of them sway. Alas, by then, the battle had already been lost. Apparently, and this is the moment I knew I was defeated, I was on route to ruining their childhoods forever. (again)

I wonder which page of the childhood manual that gem is printed on.

Anyway, this partly explains why I ended up in the kitchen with my 13 year old, one evening, making chocolate.

I compromised. Yes, they could have a chocolate advent calendar, if and only if they helped make it, and as little new plastic as possible should be involved.

Fortunately, I am part womble. I have a habit of keeping useful things that other sane people would throw away. “Surely this will be useful one day“, is my motto. I had three plastic inset trays from a previous year’s chocolate advent calendars, squirrelled away in a cupboard. Empty and clean, of course, and ready to use. They had the cutest, Christmas shaped indents, which is why I kept them in the first place.

Before you think that this was a smart move on my part and how it must have saved me a packet by not buying new, it did not. True, the chocolate cost less than buying all three of children a calendar each, with the added bonus of being really nice chocolate. A definite win.

I then threw cost effective out of the window and hiked up the cost by buying a chocolate thermometer. I was now even. I was making for more, or less, the same price as buying three new, deluxe chocolate calendars.

My theory is that I can use the thermometer again. It also ensures that the chocolate will, not only shine and snap correctly, but can be kept at room temperature without a melting issue. No need to make room in my overcrowded fridge for three glitter covered calendars, between the milk and the brandy butter, while showering the uncooked turkey with seasonal cheer.

(I’ll just pause there for a moment so you can imagine the complications of doing this in the run up to Christmas)

The next part the children did pretty much between themselves, as work and the lurgy kept me otherwise occupied. They flattened cereal boxes and marked out holes for the window, which lined up with the chocolates in the trays. Fortunately, the 13 year old is a dab hand at using a craft knife to cut out the windows.

Next they painted and decorated the cardboard, which, once dry, was sticky-taped to the plastic tray.

I’m told that the chocolates easily pop out of the old inset tray, each morning, and are delicious. Success. This craft project is worth doing again.

So just three questions left:

Will the insets survive for another year? I think so. They are thin, but there are no cracks, so they should be good.

Next question. Did I cut down on single-use plastic? Hmm. The chocolate came in a smallish plastic bag and I should have given them thread or string instead of the sticky-tape.

The thermometer was packaged in a moulded plastic case, which went out in the recycling bin and hopefully can be made into something else. Not wonderful, but over time, I should cut down on more plastic by using my thermometer to make treats rather than buying little bags filled with sugar yummies.

Final question. Why are there only two calendars? Darn you spotted that. Simple answer. Eldest teen is in the throws of her exam mocks, at the moment. I agreed to finish her one. Hmm. Yes. I’m getting there. I really am.

Project complete and a success. Finding a craft activity to do with older children is always more challenging, but this one worked. I had a great time making the chocolate with my daughter. Decorating the calendar fronts was a fun craft activity in its own right. Will we do it again? Yes. Although, I know with a heavy heart, that there is always a chance that they may be just too old for chocolate calendars next year.


16 thoughts on “Make your own chocolate advent calendar

  • Wednesday 6 December, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    It’s great that you made your own and the hand decorated fronts are gorgeous. I don’t think you’re ever too old for advent calendars (although my eldest ate the while calendar in 15 minutes). Hopefully you’ll get lots of use out of the thermometer and it’ll pay for itself over time.

    • Thursday 7 December, 2017 at 12:02 am

      Already planning a few sweet making activities for over the holidays, using the new thermometer. Should be fun.

  • Wednesday 6 December, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Actually I don’t think there is a “too old” rule that applies to chocolate things?!

    They look Great and I’m impressed..hope you feel better soon!

    • Wednesday 6 December, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Really? I mean chocolate yes, I hear you, but surely chocolate advent calendars have a “too old” rule. Don’t they grow out of counting down to Christmas at some point? Can you hear the hint of panic in my voice. Have I just doomed myself to making chocolate advent calendars for the rest of my life? Or can I just fob them off with a box of chocolate at some point?

  • Thursday 7 December, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I do applaud you for the advent calendar effort, I think that is something I could never get round to doing. Well done you!

  • Thursday 7 December, 2017 at 11:39 am

    I know exactly what you mean about ‘preparing’ kids for a change. This year I wanted to ditch the shop bought advent calendars but I was concerned about how the kiddies would react to that so I started dropping hints around September time about buying reusable ones instead.
    By the time I pulled out the ‘new ones’ on the first of December they’d got their heads around it. Thankfully they love their new calendars 🙂
    The ones you have made are really lovely! #GoingGreenLinky

  • Tuesday 12 December, 2017 at 12:20 am

    A lovely Christmas craft and such a good use of an old calendar. I’ve kept them in the past but only used them to press clay into, I’d not thought to make a new calender. these looks fab. #MMBC

  • Tuesday 12 December, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Those advent calendars look fab….It will be be one they remember in years to come..
    But you are never too old for chocolate calendars….I still get one each year and I’m heading towards 40. lol #MMBC

  • Friday 15 December, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Cheryl, you backtracked brilliantly! I love the fact you kept the chocolate inserts from other calendars. My two lumps still have an Advent calendar, but we have had the same ones since they were small and I just pop small sweet treats in the pockets… I have to ask, what is the perfect melting temperature for chocolate for making chocolates? I make filled chocolates as gifts and have trouble with the chocolate going strange after two or three days if not kept in the fridge. It never occurred to me it may be the melting temperature!

    Thank you for lining up with the #MMBC.


    • Friday 22 December, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Thermometer is the key. Bring it to the right temperature, depending on type, and it will keep. Best not to leave in the fridge as it introduces extra moisture to the chocolate.

  • Monday 18 December, 2017 at 10:16 am

    This is such a fab idea!!!! Love the pictures you have drawn on too! #MMBC

    • Friday 22 December, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Can’t take any credit. All the work of my children.

  • Monday 18 December, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Another parent ruining the children’s childhood all due to lack of chocolate – oh my! Cute post. #MMBC

    • Friday 22 December, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Yep! Not sure how I will deal with the parental guilt. Oh. That was quick. I’m over it!

  • Tuesday 19 December, 2017 at 11:16 pm

    Love the advent calendars, what a lovely activity, we have never done the chocolate advent calendars mainly due to multitude of allergies, the one time they work in my my favour

    • Friday 22 December, 2017 at 12:46 pm

      Now that is the first time I’ve heard that!

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