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Advent calendars have come a long way since the 1800s when German families started marking chalk or paint lines on the floor as Christmas approached. Today, children can count down the days with help from Spiderman or SpongeBob SquarePants, chocolate-filled calendars, and calendars that light up and talk.

Last year, there was even an "Obama White House Christmas Advent Calendar" featuring Oprah Winfrey as the Sugar Plum Fairy and John Edwards as a red-faced reindeer.

But while most advent calendars are now produced commercially, the traditional, handmade versions have not been abandoned, says Gerry Bowler, author of "The World Encyclopedia of Christmas" (McClelland & Stewart).

This craft project brings advent calendars full circle - literally - to their craft roots. Modeled after a paper chain, it features sturdy fabric links that can be removed one by one as Christmas approaches and then saved and re-used year after year. A scrap of paper taped inside each link provides a spot to add an activity for each day. Think of the traditions you already have, and mix in some new ones...

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How do we get to the instructions....I have tried several times and the link does not work thanks


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