(This is the story of our other Advent Calendar. It’s brought to you with thanks to Polabox who sent me a little something to review and in doing so helped bring my ideas to life and gave us a wonderful way to celebrate a great 2014)
When I was starting my sort out of our studio this summer I came across my old film camera for the first time in ages, a little dusty perhaps but tucked up safe and sound in its box. It was just a point and shoot but it was a faithful friend for many years until we replaced it with digital and I fell hook line and sinker for the charms of taking as many pictures as you like with reckless abandon.
And it struck me that there perhaps was one advantage of film over digital that might almost (but not quite) make up for having to change film perched at the very top of the dome of St Peter’s in Rome; you did have to print it to see the pictures.
I’m a little haphazard when it comes to printing my pictures; every now and then I round up a handful of my favourites from the big camera, pop them onto a memory stick and take them off to be printed. I love the results and I swear that I’m going to print more often; and then never do for another six months. And I’m afraid to say that my phone pictures are even more neglected. It’s a shame because it’s quite often my phone that’s the nearest camera to hand, so it’s my phone that captures those little fleeting moments of everyday life, a look between sisters, the peacefulness of sleeping babies, or just the joys of ice cream.
So when Polabox wondered whether I’d like to try out their new limited edition Christmas box, I didn’t need asking twice to have the chance to see some of my favourite Instagram pictures in all their glory.
But better than that, it gave me an idea for a little something special. Because while I love having pictures in print, part of what makes me really bad at getting around to actually printing them is that I then struggle to know what to do with them. Or even when I know what to do with them, it takes me a while to actually get on and do it (we shall not mention my wedding photos nor discuss whether they currently reside in or on their album – and H and I have been married nearly nine years!). Obviously the Polabox pictures, tucked up nice and safe in their little aluminium tin aren’t going to come to any harm, but the joy in photos is in looking at them and remembering those moments that you were trying to capture.
And so when I’d chosen thirty of my favourite Instagrams from the last year I picked out all bar six and captioned them 1 to 24.
Four days later a little parcel arrived on our front door step and this project really came to life.
Let me introduce you to our family advent calendar for 2014:
This little section of our lounge wall usually holds bits and pieces of the girls’ latest art works, either the things they’ve done at nursery or some of our projects at home, but Kitty and I cleared them all away and used some of the family washi tape collection to tape out a very simple triangular tree shape, a pot at the bottom and a star at the top, and then we filled in the star with more strips of starry tape. The whole thing was completely eyeballed but it’s 72cm top to toe and the same at its widest point.
Every day in December we get out our little tin, find the day’s picture, and Kitty and Elma take it in turns to tape it up to the tree.
I’m hoping it’s going to be a big enough tree to fit all these ‘baubles’, but the great thing about washi tape is that if I need to I can always add a little bit more, or peel the pot off and move it a bit lower!
More importantly, six days in and everything is still stuck where it should be. I also love it. The pictures so far are mostly from the Spring and Summer; ordinary days, happy memories and a holiday too. It’s a daily reminder of everything that we have to be thankful for as we count down to Christmas and a celebration of what has been for us a truly wonderful year.
And when twelfth night comes and all the decorations go back in their boxes I’ll still have a little tin full of a year’s memories to tuck up on my shelf.
What more could you want in an advent calendar?
Because if the answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is chocolate, let me let you in on a little secret; it came with chocolate too!
And now for a little nitty gritty:
- the Christmas Polabox is a limited edition version that comes in the gorgeous sturdy little tin that you can see in the pictures. You choose 30 pictures from Instagram or your social network of choice and they print them and post them out to you.
- How well the pictures print depends entirely on the quality of your original photos; I’ve chosen some pictures that weren’t always the sharpest and crispest but which hold the most memories and they’re a little fuzzy in the print just as they’re a little fuzzy on my phone. They certainly aren’t any worse for the experience and what was crisp in the original is crisp in the print.
- It doesn’t costs anything extra to add captions (from a choice of five fonts); and there’s space for a lot more than the numbers I used. I’ve seen a few blogs with some fantastic ‘activity’ advent calendars (including Lucy’s and Rachel’s) this year and it would be really easy to add the day’s activity to the picture if you wanted to and it wasn’t weather dependant, or you could add appropriate Bible verses to build up the Christmas story.
- I really like the white borders to the pictures but for another €1 you can choose to have either black borders or there are two different sets of coloured borders, one with five different colours and one with six.
- The washi tape came from the family washi tape shelf. Yes, we have a family wide addiction to the stuff. I know the red stars is from Cath Kidston and the rest is almost certainly all from Berylune in Leamington, a shop which frankly makes my bank card leap out of my wallet and start sprinting for the till even when I just pop in to have a little look around.
And if you’re tempted to make an advent calendar, to see some of your Instagram photos brought to life, or you just fancy a tiny bar of really great chocolate with some photos on the side I have a little festive treat. If you use the code CARI4N when you order a Polabox you’ll get a €5 discount and I’ll get a €5 credit towards next year’s calendar, because I think I might just have started a new tradition!