DIY Advent Calendar

November 02, 2021

Not in the mood for chocolate? This DIY advent calendar rounds off the advent season calorie-free with small, photographic Icelandic delicacies in a retro look.

Make an advent calendar with Polaroid retro photos from Iceland

At first it was just the wish to breathe new life into an old picture frame - then it became a 'multifunctional Memoboard Islands Advent calendar'.

Clearing out the basement is not exactly one of my favorite activities. Everything that is currently not needed or not needed at all disappears on the lowest floor. Out of sight - out of mind. This is what happened to a 100x75cm canvas printout of one of my photos. Because of its size, the picture was constantly getting in the way. I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. But what else should I do with it?

Finished Christmas calendar with Polaroid Retro Fotos
Finished Christmas calendar


The days and weeks currently lead directly to Christmas. I love Polaroid retro photos, Iceland and writing things on 'to-do' notes. Note the formulation: 'to write' - that does not mean that I do things, but only that I have put them down in writing somewhere.

From this approach I developed the idea of ​​designing a large memo board. Before Christmas it should be my advent calendar with 24 retro photos. At the turn of the year I wanted to convert it into a tidy 'to-do' list. The plan was to pin my unfinished business there and - so the resolution - to work through.


  1. Wooden frame 75x100 cm
  2. Plywood board 75x100 cm with a thickness of 3mm
  3. Wall paint (s)
  4. 10 wood screws
  5. 2 picture hangers, folding eyelet
  6. 24 Polaroid retro photos
  7. 24 clips
  8. 24 floppy disk screws

The frame

To match the frame, I got a thin, 75x100x3 mm sheet of plywood as a back wall from the hardware store. I removed the existing canvas, closed the existing holes and cracks with a little filler and began painting. So that the wood structure can still shimmer through slightly, I painted the frame thinly with white emulsion paint to match the furnishings. For the back wall I chose the wall color. The whole thing shouldn't become too powerful, but integrate itself inconspicuously.

After drying, I screwed the back wall firmly to the frame with 10 wood screws. The picture hangers were nailed to the upper picture rails and the board could be on the wall.

Iceland Advent Calendar: The (still) empty frame for the advent calendar
The (still) empty frame for the advent calendar
Iceland Advent Calendar: Remove the existing canvas from the frame
Remove the existing canvas from the frame
Iceland Advent Calendar: Paint the wooden frame and the back wall
Paint the wooden frame and the back wall
Iceland Advent Calendar: Screw the back wall to the frame
Screw the back wall to the frame
Iceland Advent Calendar: Picture hanger folding eyelet befestigen
Picture hanger folding eyelet

Attach the metal clips

For my calendar I used the Maul letter clips with a width of 3 cm (Pack of 10 ) verwendet. It is cheaper, to simply use wooden clothespins and glue them on with a hot glue gun. If you decide to use metal clips, there are still a few challenges to overcome:

  1. Suitable screws
    I used floppy screws (20x M3 6mm) for the 3 mm rear panel. These fit perfectly and provide enough stability.
  2. Pre- drilling
    The hole must be pre-drilled with a 2mm drill and a small piece of painter's tape (so that nothing tears out). Knowing that floppy disc screws are not designed for use as wood screws, they are a pragmatic and functional solution especially for this project.
  3. Assembling the clips
    Getting the little screw through the clamp and into the pre-drilled hole is pretty fiddly. It is easier if you spread the clamp open with a thick piece of wood so that the two round ends of the clamp are parallel on top of each other and you can 'screw through' them.
Iceland Advent Calendar: 3 mm rear panel and floppy disc screw
3 mm rear panel and floppy disc screw
Iceland Advent Calendar: Pre-drill with taped
Pre-drill with taped
Iceland Advent Calendar: Spread the clamp open during assembly
Spread the clamp open during assembly
Iceland Advent Calendar: 24 pre-assembled metal clips
24 pre-assembled metal clips

Polaroid Retro-Fotos

If you already have perfect Instagram photos, you can quickly finish this step. It was a challenge for me. I take photos with a full-frame digital camera. 'Quickly' to find 24 suitable, square photos from my abundant stock of Icelandic pictures somehow did not work. Immediately I got lost in vacation memories and had to concentrate to stick with it. Did the photo match the calendar in terms of color and theme? Was it technically ok? How did the square image look?

Island: Ísafjörður


Island: Jökulsárlón


Island: Lækjavik Stapinn


Reykjavík: Sólfar Sonnenschiff


Rückseite der Polaroid Retro-Fotos

Real Polaroids have a black field on the back. I wanted to use this optics for the numbering as well as Christmas, Icelandic pictures. I drew my motifs on white paper with a black pen. I scanned the sketches so that I could edit them digitally. Using Photoshop, I inverted the colors and added text and numbers. You can find the 24 finished illustrations in my digital advent calendar 2021 ..
It is easier if you take a touch-up pen and draw the numbers and motifs on the back yourself. Or you can use pre-made Advent numbering as offered by some providers.

Island Adventskalender polaroid rückseite Elf 11


Reykjavík:  ??


Reykjavík: Uhr Hallgrímskirkja


Island Adventskalender polaroid rückseite Schaf 23


For my requirements I decided for 'cewe' on the basis of the shipping costs (product can be picked up in the drugstore around the corner) and the better software support. I am not completely satisfied, however. The supplied 'retro prints' are better cardboard cards and both haptically and visually far from a Polaroid.

Not in the mood for chocolate? This DIY advent calendar rounds off the advent season calorie-free with small, photographic Icelandic delicacies in a retro look.

Nevertheless, the cards serve their intended purpose. The print is clean and the 300 g / m² thick paper is grippy and stable.

After I arranged them appropriately, it slowly got dark. I got a cup of tea and a fresh baked homemade cinnamon roll from the kitchen , lit the candles, put on Agnes Obel's music and enjoyed the moment.

Digitaler Adventskalender 2021 mit 24 Momentaufnahmen aus Reykjavík

Digital Advent Calendar 2021 with 24 snapshots from Reykjavík

To the digital advent calendar »
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