Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

I’m soooo excited to share this project with you today!! It has been bouncing around in my head for the past two years but it’s always worked out that every time there’s an event or holiday that would be good to use it, I don’t have time to make it.  But not this year…

So what is it?  It’s a punch board, like the game on The Price is Right. Punch the tissue circle and get the prize inside!

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

I’d seen some tutorials on how to make them, but they were a lot of work for a one-time-use thing.  Lots of taping individual boxes or bags behind each tissue paper circle.  Or, they had covered bowls or toilet paper tubes (with prizes inside) but they stuck out on front of the board, not flush.

What I wanted was a punch board that had the circles flush against the front, but could be used again and again, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

Instead of prize containers being glued to a backing, they slide inside a frame.  The containers are simple paper party cups covered with tissue paper.  The lip of the cup serves as a stop to hold in place.  You can use the frame again and again and again, just replacing the cups and tissue paper.

This project actually started out as a potential project for a Halloween carnival but I’ve adapted it to be an Advent calendar.  You can number the circles (like I did) or leave it up to chance and just let your child try their luck each day.

All of my materials came from the dollar store.  It took less than $10 to make! That's not counting the candies and prizes inside, ha!

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

I’m showing it on a smaller scale and made from foam core, because that was cheap and easy to work with, but I can’t help but think how cool this would be made on a larger scale – perhaps shaped like a modern Christmas tree – and made from a more sturdy material like MDF or plywood.

But enough of the intro, you want the project….



Supply list:

  • Foam core (at least 2 panels)
  • 25 dollar store party cups or Solo cups, or other disposable cups with a lip around the top edge.
  • Hot knife or X-Acto knife
  • 25 6” squares of tissue paper
  • Glue stick and tape
  • Hot glue
  • Popsicle sticks

Arrange the cups on the board in a pattern you like.  I created kind of an offset grid in order to fit them all on a smaller piece of foam core, but you could also arrange them like a Christmas tree or just sprinkle them around randomly for kicks.  Your choice.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

I had planned on using Solo cups but my foam core piece wasn’t big enough to hold 25 of them, so I downsized to paper party cups from the dollar store.

I drew a grid of guidelines to help keep my rows straight and evenly spaced.

Once you have your cups arranged, trace around each of the cups.  Then, draw another circle 1/8” inside of the circles you traced.

The inner circles are the cut lines.  (The larger circles are the size of your cup WITH the lip around the edge.  If you cut on the larger circles, the cups would just slide on through.  You need a smaller circle that is the diameter of the cup without the lip, big enough to let most of the cup slide through but stop at the lip.)Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

Now, cut out all of those smaller circles.  This step is soooo much easier if you have a hot knife.  It’s basically a craft knife but it plugs in and heats up so Styrofoam melts as you cut through it.  Cuts though foam core like BUTTAH.

Here's a picture of my hot knife. And the old box lid I used to support my foam core pieces while I was cutting them.  The long skinny piece in the photo is one of the side pieces (later step).

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

Some of the circles were cut close together and I worried about the foam core holding up to an eager child's punch, so I braced those spaces on the back with popsicle sticks.  I broke them in half so they'd fit in the space, and hot glued them down.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

At this point, all you need to finish out your frame are a top and two sides.  This will make your frame look like a box, and will hide the cups poking out behind.  Measure your frame front to determine the size to cut.  Make sure the top and side pieces are as deep as the cups are tall so the cups will be hidden. Cut the pieces from the other piece of foam core and hot glue in place.

If I was doing mine again, I would also make sure that my top piece was cut to fit down below and inside the front and side pieces, rather than just sitting on top.  It would just look more finished that way.

Now to make the cups to fill the punch board.

If you want to number the circles, do that now.  Write or stamp a number in the center of each tissue square.  I used several colors of tissue and wanted them in stripes, so I drew a little handy diagram showing which numbers needed to be stamped on what color tissue to make that happen, but I’m a little OCD like that.advent5

I think it would also be super fun to have no numbers at all, and let it just be luck which prize your child gets each day.

Now, put a prize inside a cup.  Take a tissue square and put glue stick all around the edges on the wrong side.  Cover the cup with the tissue square, then pull the edges of the tissue down around the sides of the cup.  The glue stick around the tissue will mostly hold it in place, but you’ll need to go back with tape and tape down any edges that are sticking out.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

This photo shows a rubber band holding the tissue in place.  That method words, too, though after I had done about 10 of them I realized the glue stick is the easiest.

Now, just insert the cup into one of the holes on the frame.  (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar TutorialThe cup will slide through the hole and leave just the tissue covered front showing.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

Do this 24 more times to fill the whole calendar.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

Now you have a punch board Advent calendar!

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

And because the cups are not permanently attached to the frame, you can use it again and again just replacing the tissue covered cups.

Refillable Punch Board Advent Calendar Tutorial

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