Canned Tree Advent Calendar

Here at the Nerd Nest we’re teaming up with Allie from Alexandra Rae Designs to bring you 12 Days of Christmas (Projects)! It’s our goal to create 12 projects each for Christmas decor, gifts, and memory keeping by the 25th. That means you’ll get 24 DIY tutorials this month! Wohoo!

The Day 1 project is a cool advent calendar that we created using only things we have in the house! Upcycled and practically free projects are my favorite. I dreamed this up because I was trying to think of something large enough to house Eliza’s Ornament-a-Day supplies for December. We don’t need more candy or teeny toys in the house, so using an advent calendar for project supplies seemed like the perfect plan! I finally landed on the idea of using cans – they’re large, recycleable, accessible, and (best of all) free. And instead of just lining them up in a 5×4 grid, we made them into a tree!

12 Days Of Christmas (Projects)

Supplies: 25 cans, spray paint, glue gun, number stickers

Canned Tree Advent Calendar


1. Gather 25 cans (the kind veggies come in). Enlist the help of your family, friends, and neighbors!

2.Take off all of the labels and wash the inside of the cans. Let them dry completely.

3. Spray paint the cans. Make sure to follow the directions on the spray paint can. We made sure to get the bottoms of the cans completely covered, but only did a light coat on the sides of the cans (so they would just look snow frosted).

4. Arrange the cans in the tree pattern, bottoms down, (number of cans in each row from the top: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 2, 2) and start gluing the sides together with a hot glue gun. Start at the top and work your way down. On each row, work from the center out.
Here’s a quick run-down showing the order in which we glued the cans (use the finished photo at the top of this post for reference):

  1. glue 24 to 25
  2. glue 22 to 23
  3. glue 18 to 19
  4. then glue the 22-23 block to the 24-25 block.
  5. then glue the 18-19 block to the 22-23 block.
  6. then glue 13 into place.
  7. Next, just add the following cans to their perspective place in this order:
  8. 12, 14, 8, 9, 17, 20, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 15, 16, 21, 2, 3, 1

5. Let the glue cool, then sit the tree upright. Fill in the gaps with more glue so those cans won’t budge!

6. Add number stickers. We used three packs with three different fonts.

7. Fill the cans with holiday goodies! We’re using them for Eliza’s Ornament-a-Day supplies, but you can also put candy or little gifts inside.

Canned Tree Advent Calendar

Are you going to make your own Canned Tree Advent Calender? Add pictures to the Flickr Group!

Head over to Allie’s blog for her First Project.

Canned Tree Advent Calendar Fail

P. S. This is why other people’s tutorials are cool: you won’t have to go through the several fails we did working on this project! Above was failed attempt #2. Man, we laughed so hard when I set the tree up and it did this! And I spent an hour punching holes in the cans and tying them together with string. I wasn’t thinking the physics though, obviously! Hah!