DIY Dinosaur Advent Calendar: DINO-ADVENT! tutorial



Click here to see how I later turned these dinosaurs into ornaments!

Hope everyone (in the US)’s Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had and still have lots of family visiting, so we’re keeping busy. But I did have time to get both this project and this post done before December!

When you tell people that you’re making a dinosaur Advent calendar, sometimes they ask you questions like, “what do dinosaurs have to do with Advent?” And then you have to say, “nothing! dinosaurs were around way before Advent was even invented!” I guess you could say something like, “dinosaurs, like Christmas, are awesome.” And then everyone would just have to accept that.

(I would like to note, for the record, that, while I think Dinovember is fabulous, I had planned on a dinosaur Advent calendar way before I ever heard of it).

Last year was my very first year for making my own Advent calendar, and it turned out pretty well, I think. I did vintage Christmas images and put an envelope with an activity for the kids to do on the back of each one.

This year I wanted to keep the activity part but do something a little more playful and modern for the decorative part. Like, say, spray painted dinosaurs.

First I bought two (affiliate links ahead; if you buy something after following my links, I get a small commission, but you don’t pay any extra. Thanks for supporting Boxy Colonial!) lots of twelve plastic dinosaurs from Oriental Trading Company (by way of Amazon):



(I’d planned to go to the dollar store to look for these, until I realized they were less than a dollar each on Amazon).

Then I gave them all a coat of primer. I think I skimped on this a little more than I should have; the most challenging part of this project was getting good paint coverage, so, in retrospect, I’d spend a little more time making sure I got a good solid coat of primer on them.

Then the spray paint. This tutorial on Curbly for making sparkly glitter animal ornaments was my paint job inspiration.

I used some silver metallic paint and some aqua paint I already had on hand, and then I bought some blue metallic paint and…another blue color that turned out to look nearly identical to my aqua. I also tried to do some plain white, but I just couldn’t get the paint opaque enough. Note: the silver metallic paint tended to be a little sticky, even when dry. IME, Krylon is your best bet for successful spray painting of plastic animals.



This all took a lot of paint and a lot of trips to the basement over the course of a couple of days. When I finally had all the dinosaur colors covered up with silver and blue, I gave the blue dinosaurs a coat of glitter blast:



I wasn’t sure how much to use, so I used….all of it. But I still don’t think they’re as glittery as they should be. If I had it to do over again, I think I’d use ONE MILLION cans of glitter blast. Or three. But it would get expensive. So maybe I’d just do the same thing all over again. Just like how Peggy SueΒ thinks she wouldn’t end up with Nicolas Cage again inΒ Peggy Sue Got Married, but then she totally does, because LOVE. Except I LOVE glitter, so maybe I WOULD use way more. We might never know.

All we do know is that now that I’ve discovered that glitter blast exists, there are going to be some major changes around here.

Glittery changes.


Oh, by the way, I tried glitter blasting the silver dinosaurs, and it made them LESS shiny, which, of course, was the wrong direction. So that’s just plain old silver paint on those guys.

After they dried, I hauled them all upstairs and made them stand on activity-laden little envelopes with numbers on them. I had planned to tie the envelopes around their necks, but I couldn’t find envelopes small enough to make this feasible.

(You can see all the activities that are stuffed inside here).

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So it’s a little silly. The dinosaurs are completely extraneous. There could just be a pile of envelopes sitting on a table and it would work just as well. And I really hate that my plastic dinosaur Advent calendar got SILLY. Just kidding. I’m okay with it.

More than okay. I’m a little bit in love.

They’re not going to stay lined up on the sun room credenza, by the way. I have big plans to move them over onto the dining room buffet once my Thanksgiving display comes down, and they’ll have some other stuff mixed in with them to make things more exciting. But here they are for now. Roar!

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Spray paint dinosaurs for a whimsical Advent calendar

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DIY Dinosaur Advent Calendar: DINO-ADVENT! tutorial — 29 Comments

  1. I cannot thank you enough for sharing your source of where to purchase! I kept going to DollarStore here in Ontario for almost a YEAR and came back empty handed each time! I could still NOT find these plastci guys anywhere.
    Of course, as I am “always the last to know” I will have mine completed when theyre out of trend LOL! Happy Holidays anyways!

    • Thanks, Jeanine…this makes me glad I didn’t bother going to the Dollar Store to look…I might have wasted a trip and come home empty handed!

    • hee hee! I thought about setting them all up Elf on a Shelf style, like they were doing exciting things….but I decided being dinosaurs would have to be exciting enough πŸ™‚

    • Thanks so much, Miranda! The original glittery animal tutorial on Curbly has them as ornaments….if I do a different advent calendar next year, I’ll have to recycle these guys as ornaments!

  2. So fun! I’ve never made an advent calendar! We did a cheap chocolate treat one at the store last year. Not nearly as much fun. I’ll have to think of one for next year. December sneaks up on me though especially this year with Thanksgiving so late. Can’t wait to see via instagram or the blog (whatever I’m not picky on my social media outlets) all the fun activities you put under those glittery dinos!

    • I sneakily posted the activity list before the actual calendar :)….but some of the photographic evidence will definitely be turning up on instagram!

  3. Late to the party, but Meh… Your dinos are way too cool. Our boys would get out of hand with a new dino every night, I can only imagine the fun around your place as they go through these activities!

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  7. I found your blog through pinterest and am enjoying it thoroughly. I have any idea for your next Dino advent… could you tie little ribbons around the necks of the dinos with the number of the day on it? Compromise for the lack of tiny envelopes?

    • That’s a great idea! The dinosaurs actually got turned into ornaments the Christmas after they were an advent calendar….but we might end up with another dino advent calendar some day….thanks so much for stopping by πŸ™‚

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