free christmas countdown tags & 25 ways to embellish them


This has been a project I’ve wanted to do for forever. It has no purpose other than to look festive, but I’m pretty sure it is my new favorite thing I’ve ever made.

I suppose you could use the countdown tags to actually count down to Christmas {maybe tie a ribbon to the pin and move it over each new day?}. Or you can just display it and call it good.

I have seen these done with a petite ornament hung from each number {which I love}, but I didn’t have 25 ornaments nor did I want to shop for them, so I scavenged my craft supplies and found everything I needed. Only a few items were purchased specifically for the project – and all from either the craft store or Target.

It sounded daunting to come up with 25 different ways to embellish the tags, but once I got going, it all came together. Just in case you need a little inspiration, here are my 25 ways to embellish the countdown tags:

jingle bell + twine . deer ornament . velvet ribbon . paper banner . fabric swatch + plastic pine cones

curled edge flower . glitter stickers . ruffled fabric + ribbon . brooch . faux holly leaf

glitter paper star . mini christmas tree . leafy branch . bottle of sequins . muslin flower

napkin ring . rolled paper flower . tiny paper chain . berry sprig . scrapbook paper flag

moss . candy cane . fluffy feather . glass ornament filled with faux snow . glittery star

A few extra tips:

>> look at your craft store in the floral section. There are usually bins of little branches, berries, pinecones, etc. These make great gift toppers as well as tag-decorations

>> the scrapbook section is a great place to find stickers, sequins, ribbons, & paper

>> vase fillers can be great. Potterybarn has a pretty selection {the glass star on No. 25 is from a package of PB vase fillers}

>> diy all you can – flowers, paper chain, paper star and banner

>> hot glue your items directly to the tags, or hang from the t-pins

. . . . . . . . . . . .

If you would like to make your own countdown board, feel free to use my templates

Free Christmas Countdown Tags / jones design company

You can download the tags in THE ARCHIVE along with all of our best free prints, templates and fonts.  If you are not an Archive member, simply add your email to the list and you’re in!



61 Responses to free christmas countdown tags & 25 ways to embellish them

  1. Marni December 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    Thank you for this great download! I made a garland out of the tags with thick black and white baker’s twine and gold glitter clothes pins. It’ was easy, inexpensive and turned out beautiful!

  2. Sarah November 25, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing these- I’m using for my December Daily this year! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. nicole November 12, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    What size bulletin board did you use for this?

    • emily November 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      My board is a 16 x 22 bulletin board with the frame removed and wrapped in linen.

  4. Jessica October 15, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    Just printed mine out and it’s only October! So excited to get started. Loving these free printables, thank you so much!

  5. Laura October 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    Just finished mine after working on it off and on for months. Love it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. christine w February 14, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    So, this is pretty funny to me because I just went to Hobby Lobby for the first time this month and I walked away with knobs, polka dot wrapping paper and tissue paper, and a W that came from the same spot as your &. Another funny thing, I consider my style very much like yours except that I have splashes of color everywhere. When I read your blog I long for neutral rooms! Grass is always greener! :-)

  7. meg @ pure&simple December 28, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    I made this over the past weekend. Thank you so much for the lovely idea and the inspiration. I made three matching sets for me and my sisters as Christmas gifts. I was able to find so many scraps in my craft supply, so this project was (almost) free! And since I had different materials than you did – it was a good way to stretch my creativity – although I borrowed lots of your brilliant ideas too :) I have to say, that the reindeer is probably my favorite! Hope your family had a Merry Christmas!

  8. Deborah December 11, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    I just love this calendar!! I made one this past Sunday and I am filling in the numbers daily. It is so much fun to think about what I will come up with for the next day. It makes me look for inspiration in every little nook & cranny of the house.

    Thanks for all your cleverness!!

  9. rebecca December 11, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    oh, i saw this on nesting place and had to click over to check it out.

    absolute love for your craftiness!

    so glad to have found you.

  10. Olivia December 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    This is such a pretty advent calendar/idea! . At first glance, I assumed it was a Jesse Tree but I don’t think it is after looking more closely at the ornaments. A Jesse tree is similar in that there is an ornament for each day as we countdown, but the ornament symbolizes a bible story and the story of Jesus Christ. There is a Jesse tree book that serves as the guide with an adult and children’s lesson and bible reading for each ornament. My kids are 2 1/2 and 5, and though my 2 yr old quickly looses interest in the longer readings, she loves the ornament and the story summary and my 5 year old loves every second of the whole Jesse Tree experience. We put the ornament of the day into a gift bag each night to be opened after the reading and hung on the Jesse tree.

  11. Alison December 6, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Absolutely LOVE THIS.
    Can you tell me how big the cork board is and did you pad the cork board with batting?
    Thanks for your inspiration.

    • emily December 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      My board is approximately 16 x 22 and not padded.

  12. hester December 6, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    Thanks for the lovely tags, i will use them in my dec.daily

  13. Cami December 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    Hey Emily! Just wondering where you found the deer ornament??

    • emily December 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      It is from Target!

  14. Joy December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    You’re the cutest, craftiest person ever!!! Thanks so much!!

  15. Nora December 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your fun idea for a Christmas Countdown.

  16. Christine December 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Thank you so much! My kids and I had a blast picking out tiny embellishments at the craft store last night.

    You are the best!

  17. mollie mcgeever December 4, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    LOVE this, Emily!! I’ve already printed my tags onto brown kraft paper, and will be mounting them on cool board I already have (kind of a woven, natural grass type bulletin board) with a cool black frame. Can’t want to find 25 things around the house to add to the tags… THANK YOU!

  18. Melissa December 4, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    I absolutely LOVE this!!!! Thank you for sharing!!!:)

  19. Amanda December 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

    You are officially the coolest lady on the planet! Love this idea!!

  20. Angela T. December 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Beautiful tags! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen December 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Each day you could also transfer that ornament to the tree, but then your display wouldn’t be nearly as cute at the end! But most of those decorations could double as ornaments.

    • Katie December 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

      This is exactly what I was thinking when I saw the picture!

  22. Emily December 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    Thanks so much for the freebie! I was just trying to come up with an idea for an advent calendar, and the tags are perfect! I’ll just write an activity for each day on the back of the tag. So fun!

  23. Jackie December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    What size is the board? I love this and all of your helpful suggestions. I want to jump on this one tonight. I already have the linen fabric and the T-pins so I am on my way. I have been wanting to do one of these, just because I think they are so festive looking. I will not be using mine to count, but leaving as is. Thanks!

  24. Natalie December 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    It’s a very cute look! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Estela December 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    This is so Victoria Magazine, beautiful! I’m glad they brought back the magazine. Thanks for sharing.

  26. sara December 3, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    oh emily, once again you have out done yourself.
    i just started working on mine. i am trying to make each ornament or trinket something i have loved this year. a few examples are a piece of chevron fabric. a striped drinking straw (cut down a bit), baby foot prints ( i had my 3rd little one this year), a few little baby wreaths ( my 4 yr old helped me make out of washi tape), of course a pair of faux antlers made from sticks), and a few of my favorite versus and sayings ( of course using stamps and pretty font writing). i hope to make one each year that reminds me of my amazing life.
    love your blog and look forward to reading it everyday. all the best to you.

  27. Geneviève December 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    J’adore!! I like every tags, especially the one with the paper banner “un petit cadeau”, no.4. I like it when you have french words in your craft. I’m from Montreal (Quebec, Canada) and I speak french, but I read every single post of your blog and enjoy it very much. I love every thing you made!!

  28. CraftLee December 3, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    WoW! What a fantastic idea, looks so, so beautiful x x x

  29. Shayna @ Brightly Inspired December 3, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Great job Emily! This turned out fantastic!

  30. Nicole S. December 3, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Now do you move the trinkets to the tree to “mark off” that day? Or just leave it out as decor?

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      You could certainly do that, but I’m just using mine as decoration.

      • Carla December 3, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

        @sara: you had me at chevron fabric, striped straws, washi tape, and antlers! I love these little ideas!!

      • Carla December 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

        Well darn…see below. That is the comment I was trying to reply to. :)

  31. JoAnna December 3, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    These tags are beautiful & I love how your countdown turned out!

  32. Lori December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Oh I love this! Printing now! Did you make your linen bulletin board? Do you have a tutorial on that? I must make that!

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      I did make the linen board. Just remove the frame from a regular cork board {found at the office supply store} and wrap with linen. Then staple the back for a tight fit. I added upholstery tacks around the edge. Super easy and so useful.

  33. Mandolyn December 3, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    This is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you so much! I’m going to try to make this tonight…and will make one for my mom—she will be thrilled!

    Thank you!!!!!

  34. Chaney December 3, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    I just finished an advent calendar last night with a similar idea to yours of just hanging it to count down the days…Mine’s not nearly as fancy as yours though! Love the uniqueness of each day’s embellishments.

  35. amy c December 3, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    beautiful! Thank you!!

  36. Rebekah T December 3, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Have seen similar projects this year and been wanting to do it myself…I might just have to do it now. Thanks for the inspiration!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours:)

  37. Lynn December 3, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    Awesome! I was just trying to create something like this and getting frustrated :) Thank you!

  38. dar December 3, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    I just printed the tags! Can’t wait to get the rest of the things that I need on my lunch break (a board and pins).

    I have mini ornaments from the dollar store. My plan is to pin the numbers to the board and add an ornament each day.

    Thank you!!

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      That is a great idea!

  39. Lindsay at Life of Splendor December 3, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    I LOVE what you created here. Such beautiful tag decorations…I don’t know why, but tiny things seem even cuter to me. Thanks for sharing.

  40. Beth December 3, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    I love this!! I did something very similar last year: http://sunshineontheinside.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-countdown-1.html

    The font you used is beautiful!! It’s all so festive.

  41. Carla December 3, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    This is FANTASTIC! I love all the little items, but I literally swooned out loud over that tiny paper chain! It is so adorable! Thank you for the wonderful download. You are too, too generous!

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      It is really cute in real life. So tiny and kinda a pain to make, but worth it :)

  42. Jen December 3, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Emily…could you explain how the actual board was made also? (Where you found the fabric and pins for it) I love it!! Thanks!

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am #

      the linen came from curtains – it is a nice thick oatmeal colored linen. The pins are called t-pins that I bought at office depot {you could probably find them at any craft store}.

  43. Amy K December 3, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    What font did you use for the tags? Love it!

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      It is a combination of bickham script pro and engravers {two of my favorites}

  44. Amanda December 3, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    I love this project and I have wanted to do something similar myself for a while! Yours turned out beautiful

  45. amyks December 3, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    Those are so pretty…so do you add a new number everyday, or do you put one away? Not sure how it works because it is so gorgeous as is, that I would want to keep the display up the whole season :)

    • emily December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am #

      That is the problem with this project … I don’t want to remove anything to count down the days! So I’m just leaving ours as decoration.

  46. Annie December 3, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    This is so cool Emily and a great use for all those trinkets and scraps that add up in the craft bin. I suppose you could put a little sticky note behind each card with either an activity written on it or pointing to a small gift or piece of sweet to unwrap as an advent calendar or just leave as is and enjoy the decoration. This is sweet. Thank you for being so generous.

  47. michelle @ this little light December 3, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    These are just beautiful … thank you!


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