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Make a Personalized Countdown Calendar

Last year, my teen daughter started out her last year of high school – while her boyfriend started his first year of college. It was a super-stressful time as a mom for me, because it was heartbreaking to watch her say goodbye and embark on a hopeful long-distance relationship with an awesome kid that we love as much as she does. In the final week before he left, tensions were high and anxiety was on overload. So I came up with an idea based on a Christmas tradition I started many years ago – I created a countdown calendar ‘Waiting Jar’ for her to count the days until their first visit four weeks away.

How to Make a Countdown Calendar for Your Kids or a Good Friend

How to Make a Countdown Calendar for Your Kids or a Good Friend

I realized that this idea could be used for a lot of other occasions – for when a parent travels far away, for when a educational goal is met (the end of the school year is fast approaching!!), or for any number of times when kids need a little help building patience while they wait for something important to happen. I would also even do something like this for an adult friend who needs a little support through a stressful time in her life. When I have done this in the past for an Advent Calendar, I came up with 24 mini-activities for each countdown day. Most days it was something simple, such as having an extra dessert or renting a favorite Christmas movie. On the weekends, the activities would be more involved, such as baking cookies.

What You Need to Make a Countdown Calendar “Waiting Jar”

  • Paper – plain or scrapbook paper, whatever you want
  • A mason jar – or even simply recycle a pickle jar. Just wash it well first!
  • String or ribbon to tie the messages into little ‘gifts’

I wanted to fill up my daughter’s jar with empowering and positive messages so that she wouldn’t dwell on the fact that her boyfriend was gone. I also borrowed my own activity idea and came up with a handful of “assignments” for her to do, encouraging her to keep her thoughts positive. Examples were: “Write down 5 things you like and appreciate about yourself”, and “Write down 5 FUN things you will do between now and the 4th weekend in September.” Then I searched the web for appropriate fun quotes to remind her of how much we love her. You can see some of them in the image below:

Daily Inspirational and Motivational Message Ideas

Daily Inspirational and Motivational Message Ideas

I counted the days until her boyfriend’s visit, (33), I typed the quotes onto my old advent calendar template, and spaced out the activities so that she’d get them about once a week. Then I cut and folded each one so that only the number was showing, and tied them up with some colored thread so that she couldn’t peek ahead too easily:

Folded and Tied Daily Messages for the Countdown Calendar

Folded and Tied Daily Messages for the Countdown Calendar

Before I put them into the jar, I traced the lid onto a piece of perfectly-themed scrapbook paper and simply sandwiched the paper between the lid and rim. If you’re using a regular jar with a one-piece lid, you could decoupage it to the top, or even skip this step altogether.

Trace a circle from the Mason jar lid to decorate the top

Trace a circle from the Mason jar lid to decorate the top

Lastly, I loaded the messages into the jar in order, putting #33 on the bottom, all the way to #1 at the top. Though now that I think about it, it would have made more sense to put the numbers in reverse, so that it would be easier for her to know immediately how many days were left.

Add the dated messages from last to first so that #1 is on top.

Add the dated messages from last to first so that #1 is on top.

I can unequivocally state that the Waiting Jar was a huge success, and truly made the wait to see her boyfriend easier for her to handle. She even took her favorite quotes and stuck them up on her bulletin board in her room! Below are 36 days worth of countdown calendar day templates that you can print and hand write your own messages for whatever your countdown occasion may be.

Days 1-12 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

Days 1-12 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

Days 13-24 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

Days 13-24 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

Days 25-36 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

Days 25-36 Personalizable Countdown Calendar

And in case you were wondering – yes, the boyfriend is still around! We’re both pretty pleased about that!

Discussion

4 comments for “Make a Personalized Countdown Calendar”

  1. […] can think of so many times this personalized countdown calendar-in-a-jar would be fun to have – Christmas, birthdays – even waiting for a vacation or visit from […]

    Posted by Amy’s Notebook 05.01.13 | The Motherload | May 1, 2013, 6:01 am
  2. […] Countdown jar from Craft Jr […]

    Posted by End of the School Year Countdown Ideas | May 8, 2013, 9:20 am
  3. Awesome idea. I really love this, Thanks for sharing it :)

    Posted by Jennifer | May 9, 2013, 12:48 am
  4. […] I think at some point, everyone has had a countdown of some sort going on – how many days until a birthday, a concert, a baby’s due date… There are all kinds of occasions for which a countdown calendar would come in handy.  Wendy at Craft Jr. used a modified version of a printable advent calendar to create this unique activity, complete with a free printable that lets you personalize a note for each day with whatever sentiments you desire.  What are you anticipating?  [download the free printable] […]

    Posted by Daily Free Printable: Personalized Countdown Calendar Jar (by Craft Jr.) | Mrs. Greene - crafts, food, fashion, life | May 9, 2013, 2:59 pm

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