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Countdown to Christmas

November 28, 2017 by Nicole Collins

Who's ready for Christmas?!?!?!?!

I am! But, I feel like I'm always ready for Christmas!

I'm definitely the person who shops all year for Christmas gifts. And my Christmas tree was up long before Thanksgiving. It's my favorite time of year, for sure!

I just wish Christmas could be in one of the warm weather months. That's the only thing that could make it absolute perfection for me.

I've been shopping for Christmas décor (like I don't already have enough) since the stores started rolling it out in September. I saw the cutest countdown to Christmas at my fav craft store that had a little magnet as the marker to change the days in the countdown. I thought it was the cutest thing!

But it was $30.

So, I thought “there must be a better way”. And, there was!

I remembered these adorable metal trays that I'd seen (and fell in love with) at the Dollar Store, and I thought that would be the perfect foundation for my magnet project.

I started by spray painting the tray in a nice, shiny, metallic gold. After it dried, I used some round sponge brushes and acrylic paint to paint polka dots on to the tray. Those would soon become my date tiles. Now, I originally intended to use a stencil to paint in the numbers; but honestly, I was too impatient. So, I went with the freehand approach, hence the rustic look.

My magnet marker was just a mini Christmas tree ornament with some ribbon and a magnet glued on to the back. Too cute! Make sure you use a heavy duty glue so the magnet doesn't end up getting stuck on the tray and falling off of the ornament.

Now, this project does involve some tools: a drill and pliers. The perfect banner that I found for this project was actually attached to another piece, so I just used some pliers to take it apart. We also need the drill to drill small holes in to the tray. We need somewhere to string the ribbon!

The great thing about this project is that it cost me less than $10! And, I already had some of the components buried in my craft drawer, so it actually cost me even less! You'd never think you could make something this cute out of a Dollar Store tray!

This would be such a fun craft to do with the kiddos (minus the drilling), because you can let them help with the painting and decorating. And of course, they can change the date as the countdown begins! They'll love it!

Hope you have lots of fun with your Countdown to Christmas. And, I hope you're being REALLY good this year!

Let's craft!


Countdown to Christmas


  • Dollar Store nickel-plated metal serving tray

  • Gold metallic spray paint (I use Rustoleum)

  • Red, green, and white multi-surface acrylic paint

  • Round sponge brush in 2 sizes (1 inch round and 1 ½ inch round)

  • Wood craft plaque with banner

  • Mini Christmas tree ornament figurine

  • Ribbon

  • Small magnet

  • All purpose adhesive (I use Amazing Goop)

  • Embellishments like glitter stickers, optional


  1. Protect your work area with cardboard or old sheets. Wash serving tray and remove any stickers. Dry completely. Spray paint one side of the tray with gold paint until coated. Allow 15 mins to dry. Flip over and spray other side with gold paint until coated. Allow at least 2 hours to dry.

  2. Squirt red and green acrylic paint on a paper plate. Use the smaller round sponge brush to paint on circles, alternating colors, with 4 rows of circles going across and 6 rows of circles going down on the under side of the tray. Leave room at the bottom, and use the larger brush to paint a circle in the center of the bottom. Allow to dry. Paint numbers in white paint inside of each circle.

  3. Take wooden plaque and separate the hanging banner from the bottom piece. Use pliers to open the eye hooks. Save the bottom for another project. Paint banner piece in the color of your choice. When dry, paint in “Countdown to Christmas”. Add embellishments, if desired.

  4. Very carefully, drill 2 small holes on the top rim of the tray. Cut 2 small pieces of ribbon to the same size, and string through the holes in the tray and the eye hooks on the banner. Knot to secure.

  5. Cut a piece of ribbon to stretch the length from one drill hole in the tray to the farthest away circle on the tray (should be #25). Take one of the mini ornaments, cut off the hanger, and add a dot of the all purpose adhesive to the back. Attach the ribbon, add another dot of adhesive on top of that, and attach the magnet. Allow to dry. String the other end through the hole in the tray, and knot to secure.

  6. Cut more ribbon to the length you want the hanger to be, and string it through the top eye hook on the banner. Add additional embellishments, if desired.

Project Notes:

* I like to spray paint outside so I don't have to worry about fumes or overspray in the house. An old bed sheet works great for protecting my porch.

*You could use a stencil to paint in the numbers if you don't trust your handwriting.

*There are so many cute options for mini ornaments, so use whichever icon is your favorite. It doesn't have to be Santa.

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