Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

When it comes to the holidays, we are a family based deeply in tradition. We use the same tree skirt every year, we have the same breakfast every Christmas morning, and don’t even suggest straying from our set Thanksgiving Day dinner menu. The Hubs will cut you. Not kidding. He. Will. Cut. You.

The one part of the holidays we always mix up is our advent calendar. Last year I made this advent tree and the kids loved it, but when this year rolled around I wanted something new. I found inspiration where most true artists go when they need a muse: The Price is Right. Remember that hole punching game on the show where contestants would shove their fist through the paper circles and pull out a tag with some dollar amount on it? I wanted to make a holiday version of that for the kids. Because that is how my brain works. And so, the cardboard tube tree advent calendar was born


  • Cardboard tubes – You need 25 pieces of tube. I used 4 paper towel tubes and 3 toilet paper tubes.
  • Scissors
  • Poster board
  • Hot glue gun/glue
  • Tissue paper
  • Number stamps/ink pad
  • Pen
  • 25 strips of paper

How To

1. Organize your tube pieces into a tree shape.

2. Hot glue the tube pieces into place. When I did this, I ended up with one side of the tree where all the tubes were flat and flush with each other. The other side was super uneven and that is totally fine. This will be the back of the tree and it doesn’t matter.

3. Put the tubes on top of your poster board and cut out a tree shape around them. Make sure there is enough margin so that all of the tubes are hidden from the front of the poster board. 

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

4. Here is the tricky part. You need to cut holes in the poster board so that they are both evenly spaced from the front and so that they line up with the holes in the tubes. I put the tube tree down on the cardboard and, starting in the trunk holes, traced a circle inside each tube hole. Some were right in the center of the hole. Some were totally as close to the edge of the tube as I could get. I just made sure that where ever the hole was it was inside the tube hole and even from the others.

5. Cut out all your holes with an X-acto knife.

6. Run hot glue over the edges of the cardboard tubes and lay the tree down on the wrong side of your flattened out tissue paper.

7. Flip the tree over so it is tissue side up and glue the cutout poster board on top of the tissue paper. Again, make sure the holes of the poster board are lined up with the holes in the cardboard tubes.

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

8. Trim away the excess tissue paper.

9. Write one prize on each strip of paper. Our prizes are things like “Kids pick dinner” or “Hot chocolate date.” I save a few “choose from the toy bin” prizes for days I know we will be too busy to do more than that.

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

10. Stamp the days onto the front side of the tissue paper. I found it easiest to stick my finger in the back of the tube and press the tissue paper between the stamp and my finger.

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from


Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

11. Drop a paper prize strip in each circle. PLEASE made sure you consult your calendar when matching the prizes to the days. You don’t want the “stay in your pajamas all day” prize to fall on the day you had already planned to go hiking. And you REALLY don’t want to accidentally put “go see the Nutcracker ballet” on a day you don’t have tickets for it. You get my point.

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

12. Cut out a piece of regular paper (I used construction paper) and hot glue it over the backs of the tubes to secure the paper prize strips inside. I didn’t worry about making this look nice because our advent tree sits on the mantle so no one can see the back. If you are keeping your tree out, cut out another tree shape from your poster board and glue it nicely to the back of the tubes.

Cardboard Tube Tree Advent Calendar from

Now get to punching!

Near Misses

  • I’m sure there are easier ways to make parts of this craft. I feel like you should be able to glue the front piece on top of the tissue paper and then stamp the days onto the tissue paper before gluing it to the tubes. I was just so worried that the holes and the tubes wouldn’t line up that I didn’t want to risk it.
  • This would look super nice if you glued poster board all the way around the tree shape to make it look like a complete tree from every angle. I don’t care enough to do that much work. But you might.


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