Crafty dad creates amazing toilet roll advent calendars for sons for just £3.50

With presents, dinner and endless parties, the festive season is always expensive.

But one way to take the sting out of the seasonal expense is to find ways to cut costs with DIY alternatives.

One craft-loving dad came up with a genius idea to make his very own advent calendars using something we all have in our homes: toilet roll. 

Darren Cullen, 35, a magician and dad of two from Dover, wanted to do a fun family project with his sons that taught them about recycling.

He collected toilet rolls, stocked up on chocolate from B&M and set to work making the advent calendars with his wife and sons. 

‘I came about the idea while thinking of things I could do for my TikTok videos,’ Darren tells

‘I had to ask all my friends and family to collect toilet rolls for me as my original idea was to make four advent calendars (one for each of my sons and one for me and my wife), totalling 100 toilet rolls needed.

‘I put the advent calendar together using standard PVA glue. It took a bit longer to dry than a glue gun would have but it meant that my boys could help without the risk of burning themselves.’ 

Darren glued the rolls onto a cardboard backer and waited for it to dry. Then they used PVA glue as it was safer than a glue gun.

‘This took longer but was more messy fun for the boys,’ says Darren.

‘Once glued and dried, we painted the tree shape we had made green. Then we filled each space with a chocolate of our choosing and sealed it shut with wrapping paper doors.

‘We numbered the doors and voila: they are ready for December.’

Darren loved the idea as it not only saved money, but it also taught his boys about the value of recycling.

‘There is also no plastic in these so it’s a bit more environmentally friendly,’ he adds. 

‘The boys also get to choose what goes in the doors for each day. They chose chocolate but they could’ve had anything – for example, we discussed putting small Lego toys in, or mini superhero figures.

‘My brother loved the idea and is now insisting we make him one so I’m on the hunt for more tubes now.’ 

Darren’s key tip for any parents wanting to try this out for themselves, is to make sure you think about your timings.

‘Drying time is important so the actual structure is sturdy enough to hold itself together,’ he says.

‘Also, consider the size of the toilet roll tubes, as some are slightly different sizes and can cause the front to be uneven.’

Each advent calendar only cost Darren £3.50 to make. He bought the chocolate from B&M to save money.

Darren shared his creation on Facebook and soon got 3,000 likes, with his thrifty advent calendars inspiring parents keen to save money and be more eco-conscious in their Christmas choices. 

‘It’s gone mad on social media inspiring lots of people to do the same,’ Darren adds. 

‘It’s also helping people to recycle rather than going out and buying ones with little chocolates in as you can fill them with whatever you like.

‘It’s a great project to do to help the whole family with working together and being crafty for Christmas.

‘It also saves lots of money as they can be reused year on year and filled with different things each time.’

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