Hopefully you will have already read Part One of my blog which has given you a few ideas of what to fill your Christmas Eve boxes with. As I said in my previous blog, I know it seems strange planning the items you are putting in the boxes first, but one of the things I found when I was hunting for all the materials, was how much smaller the box sizes came in than I had expected.
I bought my Christmas Eve boxes in plain untreated MDF wood and they were delivered flat packed. There are several places you can order the boxes from, including eBay, although I did find that eBay weren’t stocking big enough sized boxes. I ordered all 12 of my boxes from Laser Cut Delights. The section you need is Boxes and Trays and you will find it is the third option along shown as Christmas Eve Box/Memory Box. There are 17 different sized options starting at 20cm x 10cm x 10cm all the way up to 40cm x 30cm x 20cm which is the size I went for. Prices start at £4.00 per box and increase along with the sizes up to £10.00 for the largest box. Always, always, always check and double check the dimensions you are ordering to check that they are the size you require. All of the websites which supply these boxes cut them and the accessories to order and order’s will therefore be non-refundable. All sizes on the Laser Cut Delights website are quoted in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT. If this particular website doesn’t have what you are after, there are plenty of other websites to choose from, such as Laser Craft Shapes. A simple google search should reveal plenty of websites to choose from. Some boxes appear to cost more than others of the same size on different websites but always check the postage and packing costs in order to make an accurate comparison.
Once you have chosen the appropriate box, it is time to have a think about how you want to decorate it. The wooden Christmas Eve box plaques are also available from the websites I have already mentioned but have a think about what you would like the plaque to say. It doesn’t necessarily have to be personalised, it could simply just say “Christmas Eve Box”, it could have the family name if it is going to be for the whole family, for example “The Smith’s Christmas Eve Box”, or it could have individual names on the plaque. You can have up to three individual names on the plaque, but in the instances where you order a plaque with three names, you may find the plaque is taller than it is wide, so it will have to be placed on your Christmas Eve box portrait style, rather than landscape. Different sized plaques are also available – 20cm, 25cm, 30cm and 35cm. Sizes are based on the width of the plaque – again, always triple check your sizes to make sure that the plaque easily fits onto the lid of the box and there is space all around the plaque. For my individual names, I ordered a mixture of 20cm and 25cm individual plaques, although I thought the 25cm ones looked better as part of the end result. I ordered the plaques in Designer font, but there are several fonts to choose from. The plaques were £3.00 each for the 20cm plaque with one name, for two names £3.50 and £4.00 for three names. If you choose a larger sized plaque, the cost increases by 25p for 25cm, 50p for 30cm and £1.00 for 35cm. If you are not sure about what you require or how it will fit – email the sellers and ask! They will be more than happy to help you!
Once you have decided on the box and plaque you want and placed your order, the orders take around 2-4 weeks depending on how busy the sellers are. DO NOT leave your order until the beginning of December as it is unlikely to arrive in time for Christmas, and even if it does you have to put plenty of time aside to order additional decorations and decorate the boxes.
Once your order has arrived, check that you have every single piece that you need – even if you have ordered several boxes. Report any damages or missing parts to the seller straight away and take photographs if necessary. For each box you should have 5 pieces – a base and four sides, and for the lid of the box you should have the same. The boxes are incredibly easy to assemble – each piece has ridges which easily slot together with the other pieces. I used PVA glue to assemble my boxes, make sure you apply the glue to the inter-connecting surfaces on both pieces you are gluing together to ensure they are as strong as possible. Some PVA glues are sold with a handy nozzle which made things much easier and keep the mess to a minimum. Once you have glued the box and lid parts together, allow them to dry for 24 hours. Check every now and again in the early stages to make sure that nothing has slipped out of place or the pieces will dry in the incorrect positions.
Once the box and lid glue is completely dry, you have two options. The websites which sell the Christmas Eve boxes recommend that you sand down the MDF before you apply the base coat and then sand it down again afterwards before you apply your final two coats. I didn’t sand down any of my boxes, mainly because I was worried about the mess it would make as I was building them inside – but the choice is completely yours. Either apply your base coat at this stage or sand down the MDF, apply your base coat and then sand it down again.
For the base coat I bought a large pot of plain white matt paint – I bought a ten litre pot as I had 12 boxes and lids to paint but of course if you only have one or two boxes to paint, you won’t need anywhere near as much as this. I bought the cheapest variety of paint – this really is just for a basic undercoat so the quality really doesn’t matter too much. I applied the base coat with a small roller (a set from B&Q with a tray, handle and two roller heads cost me only a few pounds) and filled any gaps afterwards with a small paintbrush. I applied another coat of white after the base coat had dried, mainly because I was using light coloured metallic paint on most of the boxes, but it is completely up to you if you want to apply a second coat of white. If you are using darker colours for the boxes then I probably wouldn’t bother.
Once your base coat(s) have been applied, it’s time to apply the first coat of your box colour. If you are putting together more than one box, I would highly recommend doing all the gluing, base coats and final coats on all the boxes at the same time rather than taking one box through from start to finish and then starting the next. It makes the process a whole lot quicker as you have all the tools and paint out that you need, so it saves you painting and cleaning repeatedly and mixing the paints up etc.
Add your first coat of colour in the same way – with a roller and then a small paintbrush to fill in any gaps. For the main box colour you can choose absolutely any colour you want – for mine I choose to make four red boxes, four silver boxes and four gold boxes. Red seems to be the most popular and safest colour to go for but if you know what colour scheme a person uses on their Christmas tree each year, of course you can match their box with this theme. I did two of the red boxes with a matt paint and two with a satin paint and found the matt paint to be the better one of the two but again this is personal preference. Colours like red can be picked up relatively cheaply, the silver and gold paint I used was rather pricey! The price for a pot for the silver or gold metallic paint was £19.95 each but I was lucky enough to get them on offer at two for £20 from B&Q. I used Rust-Oleum Gold or Silver metallic furniture paint, but there’s a lot of different varieties to choose from. There’s also a wide range of glitter paints if you wanted to try something a bit more adventurous! The only thing I will say about glitter paint I when I have used it on previous projects is I have found that you need to apply a LOT of coats in order to get a decent effect, so it may not be ideal for large areas – if you really wanted to use glitter paint – perhaps consider using it on the name plaque?
Now that your Christmas Eve box has had two coats applied and has been left to dry, it’s time to consider how you would like to decorate it. You can of course just add the name plaque to the top and leave it as that, or add lots of additional Christmas themed decorations. Do a quick google search of Christmas Eve boxes and have a look at the images returned for some ideas on what you would like.
To decorate my boxes I ordered lots of plain wooden Christmas tree decorations from Amazon. I bought several packs of snowflakes (different varieties), and a pack each of gingerbread men, doves, reindeer, Christmas trees, and snowmen. They all came in packs of 10 and cost between £2 and £6 depending on which ones you bought. The snowflakes were far cheaper than any of the other decorations, so to keep costs down you may just want to order multiple packs of snowflakes to decorate your boxes. These decorations are approximately 8cm in diameter – make sure you have enough space on the lid of your box alongside the plaque if this is where you are adding them.
On each of the four sides of the boxes I added two snowflakes and an additional character in the middle of the two snowflakes (each person had a different combination of characters).
I also ordered a pack of miniature wooden decorations from Amazon, they came in a pack of 45 with 9 different styles, as shown above, and measure around 2.5 – 3cm in diameter. Designs included angels, rocking horses, stags, doves, and tiny snowflakes. These were absolutely perfect to add to the lid of the box without overcrowding it with too much detail.
Once you have received all your wooden decorations, it is time to decorate them. You can of course leave them plain if you would like a rustic look, and of course the light wooden colour would match any box colour you have chosen. If this is what you would like to do then you can carry on with gluing on the name plaque and the decorations as they are, again using PVA glue.
If you would like to paint the decorations before applying them to the boxes, I’d recommend using spray paint. I bought some white satin spray paint from Wilkinson which was about £4 a can. You can spray the decorations with a primer first too if you like, however I just applied two coats of paint without the primer. Make sure you protect the area you are spraying and if you have newspaper underneath, move the decorations slightly every now and then after spraying them so the underside doesn’t stick to the paper. Do the same for the name plaques.
Once they are completely dry, you can start gluing the decorations to the boxes. I also came across some lovely plastic snowflakes with a crystal centre which I found in The Works. They were designed for cards so had a sticky back and stuck to the boxes perfectly for a bit of extra sparkle!
For my finishing touches I wanted to include a little note so I printed off a poem and stuck these to the inside of the lid, so they would see it when they first opened the box.
When I filled the boxes (make sure they are completely dry!) I wrapped all the box presents in tissue paper to match the colour of the box and then wrapped the box in matching wrapping paper ready to deliver them in time for Christmas!
Happy box creating! Please check out my upcoming blog about home made Christmas Advent Calendars!!