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Everyone has bad days. Days when you struggle to focus on the positive things in life. Days when being thankful for the things you have takes a back seat to being resentful for the things that you don’t. This DIY Thanksgiving countdown calendar will help you focus on the positive each day leading up to Thanksgiving. This is a great activity to share with family and friend, even the kids can participate in this.

We will be reading a poem from Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes and Grateful A song of Giving Thanks by John Bucchino at dinner each night and then we will discuss what we are all thankful for. The poems in this book are really touching and a great reminder of all the things in life that are worthy of being thankful for. I plan on writing what we are thankful for each night and placing it in the sack for that day. Come Thanksgiving we can pull a few out to share with guests and have them tell us what they are thankful for.

*Both of these books make reference to religion. In Thanks a Million there are 2 or 3 poems that refer to God and you can choose to not read those poems. In Grateful it refers to ‘the promised land’ and ‘a hand holding my hand. It’s not a hand that you can see.’ While we are not religious, I do not filter religious content from my kids unless it is preachy and I don’t feel like either of these are.


Putting this Thankful Calendar together was a lot of fun. It isn’t a super quick project but I was able to finish it all in a couple of hours. I cut some black Orcal 651 vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo to make the letters and numbers but you could easily draw them yourself. If you would like the same lettering I used I am including a download of my cut file. I was able to get most of the supplies at Hobby Lobby during a 50% sale so be sure to watch the weekly sales in order to save some money.

For this project you will need:
A large picture frame. Check your local thrift store or Goodwill to save some money.
Picture hanging hardware if your frame doesn’t already have them.
Acrylic craft paint in your choice of colors. I chose green so I can repurpose the frame closer to Christmas.
Sandpaper if you want distressed edges.
Bakers twine.
Small clothespins, check in the scrapbooking or unfinished wood section of Hobby Lobby.
Adhesive back scrapbook paper in colors/patterns that you like.
Decorative punch.
1 pack of plain bookmarks or cardstock.
14 mini craft sacks in a color that will compliment your paper.
Chipboard pennants or cardstock to make your own.
Small nails or heavy duty stapler.
Paintbrush.
Ruler.
Hammer.
Paper cutter or scissors.
Cameo and vinyl with transfer tape, stickers or paint pen for lettering.

Step 1:
Paint your frame. I painted the front and edges but didn’t worry about the back since it will not be seen once hung. Allow the paint to dry

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 2:
If you want a distressed look, lightly sand the edges of your frame.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 3:
Layout your sacks to determine the best layout in order for everything to fit. For my frame I determined that I could do 3 rows – 1 row of pennants and 2 rows of sacks for a 14-day calendar. I will be using that layout during the rest of this tutorial. If your layout is different simply use your own measurements.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 4:
Flip your frame over. Measure the opening on your frame where your strings will connect. Mine needs 3 strings so I divided my measurement by 3 and marked my frame. The first mark is at the top of the opening and the others are spaced evenly.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 5:
Once you have marked your frame it is time to measure and attach the baker’s twine. I measured the width of my frame and added a few of inches then cut 3 strings at that length.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 6:
Double knot one end of each cut string. Place the knot over your marking and using a very small nail attach the string. I just put my nail on top of my knot and hammered it in (I actually did 2 nails in each knot just to be safe). Knot the other end and repeat. The string should hang some to allow room for the clothespins. Do this with each string.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 7:
Attach the hanging hardware to the frame. I measured each corner and marked where the hanger should be in order to get them even. Use the nails or screws provided to attach the hardware to the frame.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 8:
Set the frame aside. Using the decorative punch cut a label for each sack. I used a variety of designs and colors that were all in one paper stack for a shabby look. Attach the labels.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 9:
Add lettering/numbers. If you are using vinyl or stickers apply it to each sack and the pennants. If you are drawing them on yourself do that now and allow them to dry.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 10:
It’s time to make the thankful cards. For this step, I used a paper cutter to trim the bookmarks to a better height then cut small strips of the adhesive paper. I put the strips of adhesive paper along the top of each bookmark but that is optional.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 11:
Hang the sacks on the baker’s twine with clothespins. I had to adjust my bottom string at this step due to the sacks hitting too low. I simply removed the nails and moved my bottom string up an inch.

DIY Thanksgiving Countdown CalendarDIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

Step 12:
Hang up and enjoy.
DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar DIY Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar

I hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar as much as we do. Please, share a pic if you make one and let me know how you plan on using it!

Love, Cassie

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