Halloween Count-down Calendar by Choose to Thrive



Hey there Ucreators!

I’m Nike from Thrive where we’re using a “rock-what-ya-got” approach to make the most of a layoff and crummy economy.

That means me and my six young kiddos have been on the look out for everyday items to repurpose for Halloween.  This weekend we hit the mother load … in the produce isle.

Turns out with some paint and glue, you can turn an apple tray like this …

into this!

Frightfully fun for flat-out free!

You can use this at home or in a classroom as just a calendar or filled with little treats to open each day.

Want to make one with your kids, too?

For this project you’ll need a cardboard apple tray from the produce section +

(Produce trays are usually free from your grocery store – just ask the produce guy to grab you one.)

As always I hope you’ll rock-what-ya-got and adapt this project to whatever supplies you have on hand so that you can make this for free or dirt cheap.

Prime the tray with a cheapy sponge brush and whatever white paint you have on hand: craft paint, house paint, plain ‘ol primer. Just skip the spray paint – the paper tray is crazy porous and sucks it all up. 

Add a coat of orange paint …

… and then carefully paint the edges and creases black with a small paint brush.

Add stems and calendar numbers with a Sharpie and paint marker.

(I marked the numbers first and let my kids do the decorating.)

The remaining pumpkins on the sides can be dressed up with jack-o-lantern faces or left plain.

Have a grown up punch two small holes on each side of the stems with a bamboo skewer ...

… and thread twisty ties from behind …

… so that your calendar looks a little something like this:

Tame those unruly twisty ties with a bamboo skewer or paint brush.

Time to add the treats!

Flip the tray over and add some small treats to each pumpkin back. Then carefully add school glue along the ridges (orange dots below) and sides of the tray …

… lay the backing poster board or cardstock over top and gently weight the whole thing down for an hour.

When dry, gently turn tray back over and cut away any extra paper or poster board from the back.

Punch two holes in the top with scissors and thread through some snazzy ribbon.

Yup, snazzy.

Your calendar is ready to be displayed!

Starting on October 1st, you can “carve” each day’s pumpkin and enjoy a little treat one of two ways:

1) turn the calendar over and carefully remove the candy from behind

-- OR --

2) gently untie the twisty tie, carefully cut around the pumpkin and stem …

… open each pumpkin like a little clam shell and enjoy your  yummy treats.

Retwist to close the pumpkin and you’re ready for the next day.

(Of course you could cut all 31 pumpkin shapes ahead of time and just retie the little twisty ties, but I chose not to. I don’t trust my little ones to stay out of the treats. :)

So there you go – two ways to “carve” a Halloween Advent!


Again, thank so much Becky for the chance to stop by Ucreate with Kids and craft along with all of you!

I hope you’ll stop by THRIVE for more fun holiday ideas like the ones below for free and dirt-cheap ways to craft with your kids!

Hope to see you soon!

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  1. THAT. IS. SO. AWESOME. Thank you soooooooo much for the super easy advent calendar idea. I absolutely looooooooove this@

  2. I am in love with this Halloween Countdown. If you haven't seen Nike @ Thrive head on over RIGHT NOW! She is a class act... love her. Thanks for being here!

  3. Halloween advent calendar - what a great idea. Even better for free.

  4. Halloween advent calendar - what a great idea. Even better for free.

  5. This was one of the best ideas for a Halloween countdown I have ever seen. What a great way to use what ya got, Nike you rock!

  6. Yay! Nike is here. I was telling Becky this afternoon how you are the queen of taking an everyday item and making something amazing with it. I said to her, "Guaranteed Nike could make something fabulous out of this plastic Diet Coke cup {from McDonald's}."

    So happy to have you as our guest today!!!

  7. Awesome, Nike! Great idea. I second Kari's comment!

  8. My kids would love to help make this! Great Post!

  9. For a whole month of junk food, right?

    1. I am all about the candy in October, but if you don't want to put candy in it you can do other "treats" as well. Stickers would be fun!

  10. Do you realize that Advent is a religious holy season in it's own right? It's not simply the month before Christmas, it's about preparing oneself for a major holiday. Calling this "Halloween Advent" instead of "Halloween Countdown" or something is kind of crass. It would be like... I don't know, calling the month before summer vacation "Summer Lent" because you're dieting ("fasting") in preparation for swimsuit season.

    1. Anonymous,
      I was contacted by a reader on Thrive's FB page about that same thing who kindly expressed her concerns. While no disrespect was intended, I was happy to make the change and appreciated the chance to learn about another's faith. If you click on Thrive, you'll see that both the title and picture have been changed. Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

  11. As a teacher, I'm peeved to know that so many people are drooling at this idea - the few days a year that children are hyped up about it are bad enough, so starting it on the 1st of the of the month raises my blood pressure. I completely understand the fun of making a craft with my children, but cannot even begin to wrap my mind around the idea of setting up a candy (or any other treat) countdown to Halloween. As a public service announcement, please, spare your children's teachers. Cute craft for a calendar decoration (minus the candy and "advent" label... it draws a parallel to a slightly more significant holiday... I hope that's an attempt at a catchy blog title, not what you call this with your children); this craft could be great for number writing practice, practicing writing letters, drawing shapes, color mixing or color wheel work, even seasonal pumpkin decorating if that's your thing.

  12. This is such a cute idea! NO HATERS

    1. I think it is so clever and super cute, too!

  13. super creative at always from Nike! I was so happy to see you have a new craft idea up!!