Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

November 9, 2007

And they are up.

Decided to go the “tack in the wall” route – using small thumb tacks to attach the boxes right into the wall. The holes will be covered with a large wall calendar when the boxes come down after Christmas. They seem to be holding pretty darn good right now.

Wanted to address some of the comments/questions from the yesterday’s post:

1. these are paper/chipboard boxes not wood
2. box dimensions are 2.5×2.5, 3.5×3.5, and 4.5×4.5 inches
3. loved the idea of a big old frame to go around the outside of the grouped boxes – may try that one next year
4. this project actually goes really quick – I did it in an evening (between dishes, getting Simon to bed, having a glass of wine, etc)
5. loved all the different ideas for sticking them to the wall (or some sort of backing such as a cork board or magnets)

I also got an email from Shannon that included a PDF of Advent “experiences” – little actions that can be cut and placed in an Advent calendar. I emailed Shannon and she was cool with me sharing the PDF here: HolidaySpiritBoxPrompts. Here’s what she wrote in the email:

The last two years, the Advent “Fairies” have come to our house each day of Advent and they bring experiences rather than “things.” Last year I compiled some of our (er, I mean, their!) better ideas and put them onto sheets which I printed and then cut into little cards. I put the cards inside a decorated box (which I dubbed a Holiday Spirit Box). I sold these boxes at a school fundraising event and also gave them as Christmas presents. The idea being that you reached into the box, pulled out a card and picked an idea to fill you with some holiday spirit. Attached is a PDF of the experiences I put in these boxes. There are more ideas than they are the days of Advent, but if this idea spoke to you, you could pull the ideas that would be most fun and meaningful for your family. Whether you use the ideas to count down Advent with experiences or gift someone with a holiday spirit box, I have found sharing meaningful experiences of the season the best gift of all.

Love this idea and will be including some of these into the boxes.

Simon and I hit a really cool holiday sale this morning called Christmas Memories – if you are local it is still happening tomorrow and is completely worth checking out. Lots of delightful vintage stuff and beautiful wreaths filled with rosehips:

I met a lady who goes every year just to pick up one of these wreaths. She said the one she got last year lasted until Valentines.

As we were driving home this morning I came to the conclusion that I like this idea of stretching out the season – this is the first time I have ever actually pulled holiday stuff out in November. I am using my time now for preparation, for gathering + going through what I already own (and forget about from year to year). And changing my outlook to include Thanksgiving within this same general season rather than looking at it as a separate holiday…or the one to get through before Christmas can finally come around again.

I am looking forward to the possibility of simply enjoying the season: having people over, sitting in the living room lit only by the tree lights, reading, watching holiday movies, listening to holiday music.


  • 1.
    Jeanette said…

    I really like the idea of combining the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) as one season of holiday fun. As for holiday music, Josh Groban just released a new CD called Noel. I’ve purchased it but have yet to listen to it. Given Josh’s reputation, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
    Enjoy the season! :)

  • 2.
    Paola Norman said…

    Ali, the boxes turned out great! I bet Simon will love them! You’ve inspired me to give it a try..thanks for sharing

  • 3.
    Daphna said…

    Happy Hallowthanksmas (
    I have been inspired by you in so many ways so I just want to say Thanks for all that you share. Have a wonderfilled holiday and enjoy all that the holiday season brings and, above all, peace and balance.

  • 4.
    Meg said…

    So funny, your old feelings about Thanksgiving are how I feel about Halloween. I love it for the fun, but mostly because it signals a change in season and expectation. November is one of my favorite months, containing so much togetherness, creativity, warmth, and preparation.
    Thank you for sharing so many great ideas, as always!

  • 5.
    Deb Wisker said…

    I’m with you! There’s nothing better than sitting in a beautifully decorated room with your family and friends on Christmas!! My favorite holiday for sure!

  • 6.
    Rachel Greig said…

    Ali – this whole project is so amazing. I can imagine Simon will love it – and you!! :) Thanks for sharing.

  • 7.
    Deirdre said…

    Thanks for the inspiration—and for sharing Shannon’s list. I plan on using Kelli Crowe’s advent sock idea from last year, and these ideas/experiences will be the perfect “filling” (along with treats of course!).
    I love the old frame idea, and that space becoming a season-spot of sorts.
    I have always been of the mindset of keeping the holidays separate, as if they were children who deserved their own time/attention. But I love your point—a season of gratitude and preparation, because that is what both holidays are really about for me. I love how advent signals time to prepare for the Christ child’s birth, and the birth of a new year, a new start.

  • 8.
    maryjo said…

    advent boxes look great! love the frame idea as well. the notion of experiences vs. gifts is a very good one. thnx to shannon for sharing it & u for passing it along. the wreath is awesome. enjoy the season. mj

  • 9.

    LOVE LOVE LOVEit! as always… great idea to use the thumb tacks… I also like the idea of a big old frame…

  • 10.
    tara said…

    gawd ali-the boxes look soooooooooooo cool. i think im going to do this project-i even have a big open frame to put around them-so fun.

  • 11.
    Theresa said…

    Thank you to Shannon for sharing her list. I love having holiday spirit activities etc. in some of the boxes. It is so meaningful! The project looks great. Thanks Ali :)

  • 12.
    Kirsten said…

    Thank you, Ali. For all of your great ideas and inspiration. I love that Thanksgiving is as early as it is this year…it will extend the season for me. I need it.

  • 13.
    Cinnibonbon said…

    I’ve started to work on my Christmas goodies too.
    Thanks for all the inspiration..BTW you’re Life Artist book rocks!

  • 14.
    Kimberly L.C. said…

    I’m all for extending the “spirit” of the season for as long as possible, but I really like keeping Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas separate.
    For me each holiday has a different intent/meaning and I like the transition throughout the fall. For me, Thanksgiving fills my heart with even more thankfulness than I usually have for my family and frieneds and Christmas gives me an opportunity to celebrate and be thankful for Christ and faith.
    But I will agree with you that this season should be about celebration, joy, peace and thankfulness… enjoying what we have and those we love, not about rushing around to make sure things are “just right.”

  • 15.
    jessica said…

    These pictures are beautiful. I’m so happy that you’re embracing the season. Mom always made our home such a special place during the holidays – you’ve got a great foundation in that to build on. How special that you’re now sharing your talents with your family.
    Love you!

  • 16.
    Isabel Sherwood said…

    Ali you are so incredibly talented! When I think “this is just so great, how will she ever be able top this?”…you do, every time. Best of all, you make it look easy. Thank for all the inspiration. Happy Holidays!

  • 17.
    Kim said…

    Love that! I like the Holiday Spirit Box Prompts, too.
    My 5 year old son is learning to read, so I’m thinking of doing the boxes with simple sentences inside that he could read each day.
    These boxes could TOTALLY be something that we do every month, with a different treat or note inside each day. No need to only do this during December! :)

  • 18.
    alexandra said…

    Love everything about this post.. it’s all just so good!

  • 19.
    Sharon F., Oakland, CA said…

    This is all pretty awesome. I love this way of thinking and the inspiration. I will do the same to pass that “spirit” along.
    thanks so much Ali!
    Hope Simon enjoying seeing the Comet Holmes – you can catch photos from our Astrophotographers at Chabot at our site – in the images section.
    Happy Holidays… all ways.
    Oakland, CA

  • 20.
    Cynthia said…

    well said! me to.
    I would put a frame around the calender and leave it up all year round. I just love the idea.

  • 21.
    Erin said…

    This is fabulous. I am totally into Christmas projects too right now…finishing up my cards, making some ornaments, etc…love this season and what it means.

  • 22.
    Crystal said…

    I love your idea of extending the season. Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October so November and December combine very nicely. Your idea of enjoying the specialness of this time totally appeals to me. Thanks for writing it down and formalizing what I was feeling but not clearly thinking.
    That wreath is gorgeous!! I know several doors that would look great with one of them :) )

  • 23.
    Candi Tardio said…

    it looks GREAT ali!!!! love the wreath too!!!

  • 24.
    Amy said…

    Oh…my mom went to that today. You guys are lucky! Gorgeous wreath.

  • 25.
    lisa said…

    I love your thoughts about enjoying the holidays and i am going to try to incorporate it myself.

  • 26.

    that is an amazing wreath! Looks like Hops too. WOW! I would almost drive down for that.

  • 27.
    Scrap1 said…

    The box idea would be cute to leave up all year, make it a daily/monthly reward calendar. If it’s a good behavior day, the box gets opened. If it’s a bad day, no treat.
    The treats can vary, a hershey kiss, a quarter, new eraser, gift card, etc…

  • 28.
    Daphne said…

    The way you attached them to the wall really made them a part of this wall…like they have been up there forever..
    I would be sad to have to take them off..
    Great project!

  • 29.
    erin yamabe said…

    ok wow! this is such an awesome project!

  • 30.
    Jodie Winters said…

    Hey Ali,
    We don’t have Thanksgiving here in Australia, but my Christmas decorations are going up tommorrow! I love the warmth a christmas home brings (even if it is almost Summer here!) and It makes me feel more relaxed and not rushed about Christmas. People think Im crazy for doing it so early, but the stores have had their Trees up for weeks so I can too! I start wrapping now too and that way come xmas night I don’t have a million presents to wrap and I can put on my favourite Carols, have a glass of wine and bake til my hearts content. (My favourite things to do xmas eve when all are in bed!)

  • 31.
    Kara said…

    The advent boxes are beautiful and,yes, I can see how that gorgeous wreath alone makes the trip to Christmas Memories worth it!
    This is the ealiest I’ve ever started getting ready for the holidays, too … and so far I’m having a blast! It feels like a) all the pressure is off so I can just relax and have and fun and b) I’m being so smart and organized and pulled together LOL We’ll see how things go at the end of December, but if this year continues to flow so smoothly, I think I’ll make it a tradition that every year on the day after Halloween I start thinking about Christmas …
    Happy Holidays!

  • 32.
    mary w said…

    For some reason i am feeling a strong urge to break out the Christmas decorations now too! Its odd because I never even got around to decorating for Halloween. But we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and it may be the only time my family will be in my home for the rest of the year-why not have it look spectacular?? I adore that wreath- i wonder if I can find one around here??
    By the way- I got your new book yesterday-it is killing me to not have time to look at it yet-tomorrow night I think i will have a couple of hours….bubble bath here I come!!

  • 33.
    mary w said…

    For some reason i am feeling a strong urge to break out the Christmas decorations now too! Its odd because I never even got around to decorating for Halloween. But we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and it may be the only time my family will be in my home for the rest of the year-why not have it look spectacular?? I adore that wreath- i wonder if I can find one around here??
    By the way- I got your new book yesterday-it is killing me to not have time to look at it yet-tomorrow night I think i will have a couple of hours….bubble bath here I come!!

  • 34.
    Jeane said…

    Don’t forget to remember the reason for the season, the Birth of Jesus Christ!

  • 35.
    Christi said…

    Wonderful! The boxes and wreath look great! Do you have plans to make homemade gifts for friends and relatives for Christmas?

  • 36.
    Artctrish said…

    I think I am going to have to bookmark you…this is a very cool blog…love the inspirational ideas! TFS!

  • 37.
    Mandy said…

    The last paragraph of your post made me smile. I love the feelings it stirred up inside me. Can’t wait to enjoy the holidays myself. Simply enjoy them.

  • 38.
    EmmaJ said…

    I hadn’t been to your blog in a while, so I was delighted to see that you were making advent boxes! I grew up in England where the Advent calendar is a staple at the holidays. About a month ago I bought a box die cut pattern for my Silhouette so that I could make advent boxes too! I love how you did all different sizes.

  • 39.
    annie adams said…

    Every time I click on your blog, I get more and more excited for Christmas. Thanks for sharing, the boxes look beautiful!

  • 40.
    Jenny said…

    Hi Ali, I love your attitude. There is nothing wrong with getting your holiday things out early. I agree, if we all got a little more organized now and started our holiday decorating, shopping, etc. we will definitely have time to enjoy the Christmas season. Isn’t that what it is supposed to be about? You forgot having time to scrap during the holidays! I can’t think of a better way to destress! Enjoy, love the advent boxes.

  • 41.
    Angi Smith said…

    Awesome! What a treasure you have made for Simon to help count down the days until Christmas! I just received your book this week and look forward to having some time this afternoon to read.

  • 42.
    Camille said…

    Yeah, after going to the sale *twice* yesterday, those rose hips and hops wreaths were calling out to me so loudly! = ) I have to say though, we sell both through our business so I can go to our shop and make my own, so excited!
    The boxes look so great up there Ali! I’d want to save them and put them up only for the season though, almost makes them more exciting and special.
    Looks wonderful!

  • 43.
    donab said…

    I can’t believe you are doing Christmas projects already. I’m still not even ready for Thanksgiving.

  • 44.
    Lisa said…

    This is a really great project. Looks really easy and fast to make. Great pictures too.

  • 45.
    Penny said…

    I love how the advent boxes look so graphic on the wall. I think I’d like to try the frame idea too. Maybe attach the boxes to something that’s been put inside the frame, like a cork board covered with cool paper, or open chicken wire, something fun. Then you wouldn’t have to take boxes off the the wall each year. Excellent job.

  • 46.
    CocoCupcake said…

    I’m soo loving those boxes cool idea and they seem fun and easy to do

  • 47.
    Cheryl Hill said…

    Ali, I too love the boxes.
    I met you last weekend at CK in Seattle on Sat. morning at your Top 10 class. I asked you to sign two copies of Life Artist and you graciously did so. One copy was for a friend of mine. This copy was stolen from my car last night. I’m hoping that I can ship you another copy that you will sign for her.Please let me know how I may reach you if this is possible. Thanks.

  • 48.

    The boxes look great! It gets me in the mood for the big Christmas countdown! Shelley

  • 49.

    love all of your ideas! :)

  • 50.
    Paul-ene said…

    Oh love that wreath! Love your projects you’ve been making too. Super ideas! Thanks for sharing! I was wondering how you were going to hook the boxes up to the wall.
    Your always full of inspiration! I should TRY starting early on Christmas season too and incorporate it with Thanksgiving. Make life easier! ha

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