MONEY-conscious parents will do anything to save at Christmas time but no matter how much you try to cut down costs, the festive bill always ends up racking up.
But presents aside, it's often the smaller festive favourites, like advent calendars, that end up hurting your wallet, but there is a way to do it for free.
Dad Darren Cullen, 35 was desperate to treat his kids with an advent calendar in the lead up to Christmas but wasn't too keen on splurging on them.
So instead he made them himself using toilet rolls and wrapping paper and filled them with tasty chocolate treats.
The best part is that the empty loo rolls would otherwise be thrown out but he found a way to use them again in a fun and easy way.
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Darren a magician and dad of two from Dover, collected 100 toilet rolls in total and stocked up on chocolate from B&M.
He got the idea after seeing it on TikTok and didn't waste any time trying it himself.
He told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk: "I came about the idea while thinking of things I could do for my TikTok videos.
"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.
"We glued the rolls onto a cardboard backer and waited for it to dry. We used PVA glue so as not to risk burns from a glue gun.
"This took longer but was more messy fun for the boys.
"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 thought it was a good way to teach the boys about recycling and also give them something fun to do.
"The boys also get to choose what goes in the doors for each day," he said.
“They chose chocolate but they could've had anything – for example, we discussed putting small Lego toys in, or mini superhero figures."
Offering his tips, Darren said: "Make sure you give plenty of time if you're going to give this a go as drying time is important so the actual structure is sturdy enough to hold itself together.
“Also, consider the size of the toilet roll tubes, as some are slightly different sizes and can cause the front to be uneven.
It's a great project to do to help the whole family with working together and being crafty for Christmas.
“Each cost only £3.50 to make: the cost of the chocolate, which I bought in B&M."
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 gives my sons a sense of ownership rather than buying disposable advent calendars from the shop.
"It also saves lots of money as they can be reused year on year and filled with different things each time!"
Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, comments: “I’m always on the lookout for clever recycling ideas, and this advent calendar is super fun!
“I love that Darren involved the whole family in making this clever advent calendar, which not only repurposes toilet rolls that would have ended up in the recycling bin, but also teaches his kids the valuable lesson of upcycling.
“Darren’s sons will have amazing advent calendars that no one else will have – and as Darren points out, you can fill them with anything you like, making them totally personalised to your kids!”
We also shared the 12 Best Advent Calendars for women in 202.
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