How to Build a Video Advent-Calendar

A step-by-step instruction how to make this a special Christmas season for those you love, even if they are far away.

November 2020: I published this article a year ago when my sister and I worked on the advent calendar for my parents. As this year traveling is restricted, and we might have to spend the wonderful Christmas season with physical distance to the ones we care about, I hope this post inspires you to make it — despite everything that’s going on — a very special Christmas season for the ones you love.

In our globalized world, we’re not always close to those we love during Christmas time. Yet, it is easy to send them lovely messages in preparation for Christmas. I will show you how my sister and me, despite hundreds of kilometers distance between us and our parents, send them some joy every year throughout the cold and dark December.

Prepare 24 Videos

Every year, we record 24 videos on a specific topic. Two years back, my sister visited me for a weekend and we ended up recording a choreography to Maria Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You”, singing songs we used to sing at Christmas when we were kids, and reading funny Christmas stories.

Another year, we made videos with a daily riddle. Each question was related to a part of our everyday life, so our parents could see what their daughters are up to all day long. Be it a nice algorithm I stumbled over during my research, or how to use Instagram (my sister works with influencer marketing). Then, our parents had to note down the answers that eventually turned out into a code to open a safe on Christmas Eve.

This year, we involved friends and family: We contacted them with the request so send us a short Christmas-related greeting for our parents. We got lovely, funny and heartwarming replies from sweet children of our friends playing the piano, from Christmas-market visits, Christmas yoga sessions (the tree, the star, the angel). Everyone gave what they could.

Pro-Tip: To collect these videos, we used a Dropbox File-Request.

How To Make a File-Request Link for Dropbox

Prepare 24 Dropbox Folders

For each day in December, we open a Dropbox Folder. For each folder, we generate a read-only “share”-link.

How to Generate a Read Only Share-Link in Dropbox

From each link, we generate a QR Code and print it (Don’t forget to write the numbers on the codes!). Don’t underestimate the copy-and-paste effort and the time it takes to verify that each QR code points to the correct folder.

Print the QR Codes and Place them with some Sweets into Pretty, Numbered Bags

For each code, we take a bar of chocolate or a pretty paper bag and place the code on / inside. This is the “real world” item our parents get — via mail or if one of us pays them a visit in November.

Place One Video Into each Folder

Finally, we place one video into each folder. The nice thing is: If you’re not done with all the videos on December 1st, no worries: The QR code points to the folder, only. You can fill it anytime (before the respective date). So we usually have the first ten days filled and do the rest throughout December as time permits.

24 Days to Christmas

Finally, every day from December 1st to 24th, our parents have a calm moment every evening where they can open one bar of chocolate or paper bag, enjoy the sweets, and scan QR code to watch the next video.

Merry Christmas

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