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Make a DIY Holiday Ladder — to display cards or advent calendars {Christmas tutorial}

This might be my favorite project of 2011… I don’t know. I really like it a lot.

I have been looking for a good place to hang holiday cards. Then I had to come up for a project for our little web show — Get A Little Creative in June and I thought a ladder might be a festive idea. I looked around for a vintage ladder at some thrift stores, but after coming up empty-handed, I decided to try my hand at making my own ladder.

The nice thing about making your own ladder is you can make it any size you want! Plus, it’s really inexpensive! The whole project cost me under $20. I think I will leave it up all year. I can use it to put up invitations, art work or just leave it as an art piece. I painted it blue to go with my decor, but I think it would be cute in ANY color!

And you can use this ladder for many different uses. It is a fun idea for displaying Christmas Cards. But I also think it’s also a great way to display an advent calendar. I made these canvas pouches for the 12 Days of Christmas. I used my Silhouette and heat Transfer material to make the pouches with Bakers Twine from Twisted Sugar Twine to cinch the ends. I added the little red clothespins from Canvas Corp. And I added hooks to the side for stockings or little Christmas cones filled with goodies. I made a stocking with left over fabric and Ruffled Fabric from RuffleFabric.com.  This might be a good idea if you don’t have a fireplace. You can display your Christmas Stockings by hanging them on the hooks.

Here’s how to make YOUR own DIY Christmas Ladder:

1. Measure out two 1×4’s — mine were 8 feet in length.

2.  Get some 3/4 inch Dowel Rods for the Rungs.

3. Measure how wide to make the rods.

4. Cut the rods. Then Drill out the rounds for the rods, using your drill. You want the rods to angle in toward the top of the ladder.

**a tip — use masking tape to mask off the depth you want to drill, that way you don’t go all the way through the side of the board. You want to only drill through 1/4  of the depth of the board. that way the dowel will fit snugly into the groove, but you still have some board to screw the dowel to the outside of the board. This will make your ladder rungs sturdy.

5. Drill out the round.

6. Screw the rod into the 1×4.

7. Spray paint and sand the ladder. Add the eye screws and thread Bakers Twine through.

8. Hang up your decorations!!

Technical notes — My ladder is 8 feet tall. I spaced the dowels out 12 inches in height. The lowest dowel is 24 inches wide, then I made each dowel above it abut 1.5 inches shorter. The top two dowels are only about a half inch different in width. Keeping it real – my ladder is not perfect. For the width measurements I laid the side board out and eyeballed how wide I wanted it from the bottom to the top and then marked the space where each rung would go and measured the width across. It is not precise. I am sure there is a mathematically better way to figure it out. But I like that it is wide at the bottom and then narrow at the top. And I did measure out the space between the rungs so they were all the same. And to be fair, I did make this ladder in June and then wrote the tutorial up in November so it’s hard to recall all the details :)

I screwed the eye hooks into the back of the ladder — I screwed one at every dowel from  from side to side.

Now you have a place to display your kids’ artwork, cards or advent calendar. The ideas are endless!!

Merry Christmas!!


PS — Here’s our Little Creative Christmas episode on My Craft Channel with the Christmas Ladder project:

PS — I’m linking up to these fun parties!!

Today’s Creative Blog – Get Your Craft On Party!


Tidy Mom’s I’m Lovin’ It!!

PS –Come join in the fun discussions at the  International Delight #CoffeeTalk Community. It’s a great place to chat!!



  1. Thiis was an AWESOME and quick project….THANK YOU SOOOOO VERY MUCH…I made it with a rustic look and much smaller….it came out GREAT! Thanks again!!!!!!

  2. I think this would be super cute in my house for year round decor if I used clothespins and attached pictures to the rungs like a collage

  3. Saw you on Houzz….how exciting is that! Congrats! Stop by and enter to win my Heirloom ornament…only 1 day left to enter. Warm wishes

  4. I love it! I think I might have to wait till Rachel is a little older though. Or find a way to anchor it to the wall. 😉

  5. this turned out beautiful! love the color!

  6. Jen…I just love all the inspiration you share on your blog! I highlighted this project on my blog today sharing that you inspired me to do this for my son and DIL at their home. Now I’ll be heading out to opur barn to find and old ladder to spiffy up for my home this Christmas! I’ll be linking up to your party this next time around!
    Leigh Ann

  7. great idea

    Would love it if you could share this on my link party Serenity Saturday at http://www.serenityyou.blogspot.com

    Natasha xxx

  8. Oh my goodness!!! I really love this idea!
    I think it would be a cute jewelry holder too! Propped up against a wall in your bedroom with little hooks to hang necklaces & bracelets on!!!!

  9. *LOVE* this! This would be excellent in my studio for displaying projects my kids make for me! Thank you for the tutorial!

  10. I love this ladder- so cute and maybe even simple enought for me to make! :) I’m thinking purple….

  11. Thanks once again for the inspiration! I featured this today on my `things I like thursday`.



  12. CUTE!! I know you did the numbers on the pouches with your silloutte but did you buy the pouches pre-made? If so, from where?? I want to do a 12 day countdown with a different ornament in each pouch. Thanks!!

    • Carrie » Hi Carrie!!

      I made the pouches from natural colored canvas. They were really easy to make. It’s basically just a square with the edges sewn under. Then I cut the edges in on the sides and flipped it right side out and threaded the bakers twine through :)


  13. That is adorable! If I had ANY energy right now…whatsoever, I’d make one. I might have to see if I can buy one.

  14. Now, THAT is adorable! I want to come live at your house! 😉

  15. Jen this is adorable! I love the color you chose. I could use one of these to hang all of our Christmas cards on too!

  16. Jen this is got to be the BEST thing I’ve seen so far for xmas ideas!!!! Great idea with the stockings! I have a black ladder that I’ve had for years and I have loved hanging little christmas towels on it but you just gave me a great idea for cards! LOVE IT! JEssica (aka nucheysmommy)

  17. This is such a neat idea! I’ve been looking for a way to display our Christmas cards that we get in the mail, but I haven’t found anything that I really, really liked. I love this!!!! I’m so pinning this:)

  18. I justI saw this post this morning and just had to make one for myself! My husband and I just finished construction. I stained it a dark stain and will spraypaint and distress it tomorrow so that the dark comes through! However, the geometry involved was way more complication than it seemed.

  19. Jen- this ladder project is SUPER awesome!!! And your blog is the best!! It was such a blast meeting you at Oh Sweet Sadie the other night ( Hoop-La earrings)!! I was so happy to get a chance to chat with you and Shelley. You are super creative and we have TONS in common with our design style. Would love to chat more! Mandy

    • Hi Mandy!!

      It was so fun meeting you too!! I’d love to chat more – that would be so fun!!! You are adorable!!!


  20. This ladder is adorable! I am always trying to think of a cute way to display holiday cards! Love this!

  21. So cute! LOVE IT. It’s so modern too!

    I would totally make one if I had the space and time!

  22. I’ve never wanted a ladder but now….I might make one….I might NEED one. Super awesome project.

  23. I’ve been thinking this would be a good project to try for exactly the same reason(s) you did! I’m so glad to see it worked like a charm. I’m glad to get the tip on marking the drill bit. Yours is so cute in blue!

  24. Stellar idea Jen! I would love to give it a whirl myself, but my little Ella is a climbing machine right now; it would be disastrous! Not in the cards for me, but I adore it nonetheless!


  25. I just put up my ladder that I picked up a couple of months ago. If you don’t want something so permanent with the hooks on the side, you can use S hooks on the rungs… http://tellingbells.blogspot.com/2011/11/ladder-up.html

  26. I have many times considered making my own but decided to wait till we moved. The color looks great and fits you perfectly.


  27. What a FUN idea, Jen!!

  28. AWESOME! I have been on the lookout for the perfect ladder. I’ll be making mine this week. :) Nice job! Thanks for the inspiration!

  29. This is really awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  30. What a great idea! I love the color too!

  31. I have an old ladder that would be great for this and a smaller one that would be great gifted in this manner. Thank you for sharing.

    Making a ladder is definitely being adding to our to do list.

  32. That is too cute! What an awesome idea! I have been wanting an old fashioned ladder, but after seeing this…. I think I may just make my own!

  33. I have been looking for a simple ladder (scouring thrift stores and the like) Now the hunt is over! I’m headed to Home Depot and making one. THANK YOU so much for the tutorial!!

  34. Great color, Jen! Good for you for making your own. I have a small ladder that came with an elf for Christmas {you are supposed to lean it against your tree like he’s helping decorate}, but that little ladder may find itself with a new job this year!

    • Thanks Kathy!!

      Your Elf Ladder sounds cute!! Thanks for the sweet comment. I hope things are going great with your family!


  35. LOVE it, Jen! Looks adorable! :)

  36. LOVE it!!
    so gorgeous – and the colour is amazing.
    cheryl xox.

  37. I am really in love with this as we live in an apartment and have 1) no space for daily artwork, 2) no mantle for stockings, and 3) honestly because it’s just so darn cute!! Maybe I can convince hubs to let me take on the project :-) I’ll keep you posted!

    • You should make your hubby help you make one!! It really only takes a couple hours. I think it sounds perfect for you!


  38. What a great versatile project, Jen! This would make a super cute (and inspiring) place to keep all kinds of things. Thanks for sharing!

  39. Love the ladder!! And you could really use it even after the holidays for other things. :) Thanks for sharring the tutorial!

  40. Love this project. I will be making one of these to display my cards this year!!

  41. Heidi Weisberg says:

    You are always so Wildly Talented!!! (a project; a small labor of love and gorgeousness!) What a vision! I love it very much. It’s the ladder to happiness! You can do anything throughout the year on that piece! Birthday wish cards, Easter, oh my!!!!!! Love your blog. Great way to start my morning….

  42. Love love love it Jen! Already thinking where I could put one in my house! You have the perfect spot for it!

  43. Hi! I am usually a lurker here but I had to post and say how total cuteness this is!!! I think I will hang our Christmas cards from it and when the holidays are over, use the twine and clips to hang my boys artwork. (And my hubby works for a major home improvement store so he can get everything before he comes home from work LOL!) You did a really great job. Thanks for sharing with us.


    • Hi cindy!

      Thanks for delurking and commenting! I appreciate it so much. And how cool that your husband works for a hardware store. That would be so handy!! Let me know if you make one- I’d love to see it!!


  44. LOVE IT! Such a nice alternative for those who don’t have fire places.


  45. Love it! Such a great idea!!


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