Well this is one of my new favorite traditions. I always loved advent calendars and have so many fond memories of my siblings and I taking turns opening one of those cardboard calendars with chocolates hidden behind each door every December. I was looking for weeks for different ideas for an advent calendar/winter spiral and when I saw this on @ourlifeinthealps I knew right away that this was perfect for us!
A few weeks ago we fell in love with acorn cap candles and this was the perfect way to continue our obsession while coming up with new dreamy ways to bring light into the dark winter season. This was so fun to make and my toddlers could help every step of the way. I think my favorite memory was watching them mixing all of the salt dough by hand- flour flying everywhere, sunlight shining through and so many giggles as they mixed and measured. We have a Frozen obsession and wanted to make our salt dough blue and icy like the winter season ahead. The girls (almost 3 years old) poured almost all of the candles totally by themselves using a tiny spoon- they might not be completely perfect but we were all so proud of how hard they worked on them.
Our recipe for salt dough (we made a big batch!):
4 cups flour
2 cups salt
2 cups water
Liquid watercolor (I'm sure food coloring would work too)
We mixed all the dry ingredients together first in a big bowl. Then, we actually added the coloring to the water (and some to the dry ingredients) so that it would be more evenly mixed in. Total I bet we did about 30 drops of blue. We all mixed with a spoon at first and then couldn't resist and the rest was mixed all by hand.
While my girls made little freehand salt dough ornaments, I rolled a large piece of dough out into a long coil on parchment paper. Then I slowly coiled it together and took acorn caps and pressed indents all along it so that after it baked I could hot glue them into place.
Then we popped our salt dough creations into a 200 degree oven for a few hours until it was done. Their thinner ornaments only took and hour or two and I think the salt dough spiral took about 3. Then we took it out to cool and made our acorn cap candles!
We have this magical walk through the woods near our house with the biggest acorn caps I have ever seen! Seriously, I don't know how we got so lucky so if you can't find any you can also use walnut shells like @woodlark has done!
We melted the beeswax in a double boiler- I have a saucepan dedicated to beeswax that I bought at a thrift store and it is so amazing because if we don't use all the wax it doesn't go to waste. Once the wax was melted I brought the whole double boiler set up over to a work table, keeping the wax in hot water keeps it from cooling too quickly, and then we got to work! Settle your acorn caps into a shallow bowl/plate with sand to keep them from wiggling around. If you are comfortable, let your littles try pouring some wax in with a spoon. They will definitely drip it all over the place and some might spill but seriously they will amaze you with their dedication and focus! Once the wax starts to dry slightly put a tiny piece of cut wick in. ¡Voila! Make extra to use to float on your holiday table- they're magical.
Now to assemble your spiral. I just used hot glue to secure an acorn candle into each indent and then put a bigger candle in the middle for our Christmas day. Each night we will light a candle and then the next morning, right next to our calendar there will be a tiny surprise. I am so excited to see their faces each morning.
Here is a list of the surprises they will get - some will happen twice:
A note telling them about a special activity for the day
Books: Los Renos Rebeldes de Navidad (Jan Brett book)
Lily Huckleberry book - I'm so excited about this one!
I'll show you the felted ornaments I make as I go! Do you make an advent calendar at home? I love that this is not just a calendar, it is a whole activity making it together!
Spanish words we practiced:
Masa de sal (mah-sah deh sahl) - salt dough
Harina (ah-ree-nah) - flour
Sal (sahl) - salt
Agua (ah-gwah) - water
Mezclar (mehs-klahr) - to mix
Espiral (ehs-pee-rahl) - spiral
Calendario de adviento (kah-lehn-dah-ryoh deh ahd-vyehn-toh) - advent calendar
Vela (beh-lah) - candle