Make this adorable countdown to Christmas lantern using your Cricut with these easy step by step instructions.

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Oh let me count the ways we countdown to Christmas each year. We have the advent chain, advent calendar and countdown blocks. But there is always room for another countdown because my kids get so excited doing it. This year we’ve added this beautiful ‘Days Til Santa’ Lantern. 

Each day you get closer to Christmas you change the day on his belt buckle. Not only is it interactive, but it looks great on a shelf or as a centerpiece. And the best part; you can make it on your Cricut!

Materials

Cricut Contributing Artist

I am fortunate enough to be a Cricut Contributing Artist (CAP). What does that mean? I am able to upload my SVG designs into Cricut Design Space. If you are a Cricut Access member you can cut them for free. Here is my profile. My countdown lantern will be available to cut to Cricut Access members starting 11/16/2023. If you are not a member, no worries, the file is available here.  

Feature Video

Watch for a step by step tutorial. Prefer written instructions, keep reading.

 

Best Tips for Intricate Cuts

While you might already be a Cricut pro, I’m going to share all of my tips and tricks for getting a flawless lantern.

All of those delicate lines makes for an intricate cut. Intricate cuts are easy if you follow the correct steps. If you need more details on how to make the perfect intricate cut please read my post: Why Is My Cricut Tearing My Cardstock

Blade – Use A Clean, Sharp Fine Point Blade

  • You will want to use the fine point blade (it’s the one that comes with your Cricut and you probably use most of the time).
  • Make sure your blade is not dull. These blades are made from premium German carbide steel. It’s probably  not dull. I’ve used the same blade daily for 5 years now and it’s not dull. But just in case…

   

  • Make sure your blade is clean. This is critical. A dirty blade will not cut intricate cuts well.

    • First, carefully jab your blade into an aluminum foil ball to remove any debris. This does not sharpen your blade, but it does help get the debris off.

    • Also, carefully wipe your blade down with rubbing alcohol to remove any  hard to see adhesive.

Mat – Use a Clean and Sticky Blue (Light Grip) Mat

Cardstock – Use 80lb Solid Core Cardstock

Cardstock is also critical for getting a perfect lantern. You will want to use a solid core (when you tear your cardstock you see color all the way through and not a white core).

I recommend the following cardstock brands for intricate cuts:

  • American Crafts Cardstock– my favorite for intricate cuts 
  • Recollections @ Michaels – great for last minute local pick ups
  • Bazzill Cardstock

For a larger selection of my American Crafts and Bazzill, I like to shop at 12 x 12 Cardstock Shop. I trust this company, and many of the brands they carry are great quality and perfect for cutting. 

I definitely use 80lb weight cardstock for the lanterns. Anything over 80lb is hard to cut with an intricate cut and anything lighter seems too flimsy.

Feel free to use your favorite brand, but just keep in mind, if you are having issues with your cut you might want to switch out your cardstock for a different brand.

Material Setting – Cardstock (for Intricate Cuts)

It is so critical that you use the material setting Cardstock (for intricate cuts) when you are cutting out your lantern. This will cut the design 2x. This does add time to your cut, but it’s worth it for a perfect cut every time.

Scoring Tool – Stylus or Wheel

You will need to use either a scoring stylus or if you have a Maker you have the option to also use a scoring wheel. If you have both, I recommend the scoring wheel because it scores a little deeper.

Brayer – Use This to Apply Your Cardstock

While a brayer isn’t a must have for this project, it’s highly recommended. I actually use my brayerto apply all my material (vinyl cardstock, etc. to my mats).

Glue 

While you can use any glue to assemble your lantern, Bearly Art glue is my favorite because it dries fast, but still gives you time to adjust your cardstock. And most importantly it dries clear so you don’t have to be perfectly neat when using it. 

Creasing Tool – Optional

While it isn’t necessary, you can always use your fingers, I love my creasing tool for nice sharp creases.

Preparing the Lantern for Cutting in Cricut Design Space

Need help uploading the file Cricut Design Space? How to Upload Files to Cricut Design Space.

Which SVG File do I select?

Now you have all of your materials together, you have a decision to make. What size do you want your lantern? The Countdown to Christmas lanterns come with two different files. 

Please Note: Only the smaller lantern size is available for free with Cricut Access.

Each file comes with a piece for the lantern itself, pieces for vellum cutouts (the portion that goes behind the lantern), a bottom piece and days 1 – 25 for the countdown.

  • Smaller Size Lantern 
    • This comes in one piece and you use one 12 x 12 piece of cardstock to make it
    • Each assembled panel measures 7.4″h x 2.8″w
  • Larger Size Lantern
    • Per customer requests, this comes in two pieces and can be sized up or down in Design Space. The only limitation is the size of your mat and cardstock.
    • Each assembled panel measures 11″h x 4.1″w.

The smaller size is personally my favorite. It uses one piece of 12 x 12 cardstock for the lantern and I like the size. But many of my customers have requested a larger sized lantern, so I provide both options.

Resizing the File

If you would like to make the lantern larger or smaller, you can do this with the larger size lantern.

  • Make sure you select the lantern piece(s) the gray cut outs (vellum), the bottom piece and the countdown days.
  • When you have them all selected (make sure all design elements are highlighted in green on your layers panel), you can then grab the corner of the selection and move it up or down to make it larger or smaller.
  • If you don’t resize the pieces together, they probably won’t fit when you go to assemble the lantern.

 

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines – Important!!!

Unfortunately you cannot design something in different software and import score lines into Cricut. I have no other choice. So you have to bring them in as cut lines and change them to score lines. If you skip this step, your lantern will be cut into pieces – which we don’t want. 

Please note: If you are cutting this from Cricut Design Space Access, this step is already completed.

There is a box with instructions in  the file. Select Ungroup and you can delete this box. 

 

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Smaller (one piece) Lantern Design

First, we will walk through how to change the cut lines on the smaller design.

  • First, you will want to find the lines in the layer panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see the are all grouped together (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score lines (which are still all grouped together) and your lantern from the layers panel.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.

 

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Bottom Piece

You will also need to change to score lines on your bottom piece.

  • Find the lines in the layers panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see an outline of a box (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines will change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score line and your bottom piece.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift or select them both with your mouse.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.
Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Larger (two piece) Lantern Design

Even though the process is the same, to avoid any confusion, we will walk through how to change the cut lines on the larger design.

  • You will want to find the lines in the layer panel. (Hint they are hard to see, so it almost looks blank)
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see there are two sets – one set for each piece (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on both sets of lines from your layers panel.

  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

 

  • Next you will want to select your score lines and your lantern from the layers panel.
  • You will want to do each piece separately.
    • If your two panels are grouped together at this point, it will be easier you will need to ungroup them first before attaching.
  • Highlight the score lines and the lantern piece while holding down shift. 
  • Make sure you have selected the score lines and lantern piece that are on top of each other.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.
  • Repeat this process with the second piece.

 

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Bottom Piece of the Larger Lantern

You will also need to change to score lines on your bottom piece.

  • Find the lines in the layers panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see an outline of a box (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.
  • Next you will want to select your score line and your bottom piece.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift or select them both with your mouse.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.

 

Changing the Cut to Score Lines in Design Space App on Your iPhone / iPad
  • Select the Ungroup button to Ungroup the image.
  • Across the bottom, scroll over until you find the Layers button. Select this. It will bring up your layers panel.
  • Highlight the layer with the cut lines.
  • Select the Edit button from across the bottom.
  • You will see the Operation box come up on the bottom left. It currently says Basic Cut. Click on it and from the drop down select Score. Click Apply.
  • Select the Lantern arrow above the score lines and the lantern design. This will highlight both the score lines and the lantern design. While both are highlighted, select the Actions button at the bottom. Then select the Attach button.
    • If you are working with the two piece lantern attach each one individually.
  • On the layers panel, select the instructions and click on the trash can icon right below it.
Changing the Cut to Score Lines in Silhouette

Full disclosure: I do not have a Silhouette Cameo, but I do have the Silhouette software so I can walk you through changes the lines from cut to score in the software.

  • You must have Silhouette Designer Edition or above for this file to work in Silhouette (it will not work in the free version).
  • Upload the SVG into Silhouette Studio
  • Right click and select Ungroup
  • Pull the lantern onto your mat
  • Select the Send button
  • Go to the Lines tab
  • Change the cut lines to Score
  • The cut lines are the ones that look like the black square

Cutting the Countdown to Christmas Lantern on Your Cricut

Need help uploading the file Cricut Design Space? How to Upload Files to Cricut Design Space.

Cutting the Countdown Days

First up are cutting the countdown days. I like to cut the belt buckles with the days on them out of glitter cardstock. Any cardstock is fine, but I like the extra pop the glitter brings.

  • Set your Cricut to Glitter cardstock (if using glitter) or Medium cardstock if using regular cardstock.
  • Attach your cardstock to your clean sticky mat ( hopefully with your brayer). Use a light grip mat (blue) for regular cardstock and a standard grip mat (green) for glitter cardstock. Load it into your Cricut and select Go.
  • When it’s finished remember to turn your mat upside down and peel the mat away from the cute little buckles.

Cutting the Vellum

Next up are the vellum pieces. Did you know Cricut has a setting for Vellum? You do now!

  • Browse materials for Vellum. If you have an Air Explore, you will need to turn your dial to Custom to do this.

  • Attach your sheet of Vellum to your clean sticky mat ( hopefully with your brayer) and load it into your Cricut and select Go.
  • When it’s finished remember to turn your mat upside down and peel the mat away from the vellum. This way the vellum does not curl up.

 

Cutting the Lantern

Grab your solid core 80lb cardstock. Remember to attach it to a clean sticky mat with your brayer if you have one.

Cardstock Setting – Cardstock (for intricate cuts)
  • Remember, you want to use the material setting Cardstock (for intricate cuts). This will cut at a pressure of 200 and cut 2x.
  • Since you are using 80lb cardstock you will probably want to also select More Pressure.

 

Scoring

The first operation that happens when cutting the lantern is the score operation. You can use a scoring wheel or a scoring stylus for this operation.

Loading The Scoring Wheel
  • If you are using the scoring wheel (Maker), load it into clamp B. The Cricut will score before it cuts.

You will be prompted to switch back to the fine point blade once the Cricut is done scoring.

Loading the Scoring Stylus

Load the scoring stylus into Clamp A for both the Maker and Explore Air.

If you are using the stylus with the Maker, you will need to go back into Design Space and under Step 2 – Load tools and materials, select the Edit Tools button. Then select the scoring stylus box.

The Cricut will first score and then continue on to cut.

Removing the Lantern from the Mat

Like before, you want to flip the mat over and peel the mat away from the cardstock. This prevents tearing and curling of the cardstock.

Since most of the cut outs stay on the mat, you will eventually need to remove them from the mat. I always use my XL Cricut scraper to remove the pieces. 

Assembling the Lantern

Now that we have all of our pieces ready, we can assemble the lantern. 

Folding the Lantern

Since the paper is heavy (80lb) you want to carefully fold the paper. If you fold too quickly you will get “cracks” in your cardstock and it won’t look nice when done.

To fold the lantern flawlessly:

  • Put your finger behind the score line and slowly bend the line toward your finger working your way down the score line.
  • Do this a couple of times. 

  • Next, bend a little more pinching it between your fingers, but don’t close your fingers all the way (still not a full crease).

  • Then, you can start to crease the score line. 

 

  • Lastly, you will want to sharpen the crease by running your fingers over it or a creasing tool.

Glue on the Vellum Pieces

Now, you will want to glue on the vellum pieces.

  • Flip the lantern over so the front is facing down.
  • Run glue around the outside of the lattice cut out section on a panel.
  • Attach the vellum

Please note: Do not put glue on the belt. If you glue vellum to this area (see pic below), it will make changing your days difficult.

Gluing the Smaller Lantern

It’s easiest to glue the lantern if you glue it around the bottom.

  • Start by bending the tabs up on the bottom piece.
  • Next, put glue on one side of the tab.
  • Do not start with the panel that has the tab on it. That will be your last panel to glue.

  • Line up the bottom with the bottom of the lantern. Press and hold in place until the glue sets a little. 

  • Continue gluing one side at a time until all four sides are glued, finishing with the lantern panel with the tab.

  • Put glue on the tab and tuck it under the panel next to it. Hold until it’s dry.

Glue the Larger Lantern

The larger lantern  has two pieces that need to be  glued together. Besides that difference, it is the same procedure as above. 

  • Start by putting glue on one tab on the bottom piece. 
  • Attach one of your lantern panels. Hold until the glue sticks.
  • Glue the next side of the bottom tab to the next side of the lantern panel. Hold until the glue sticks.
  • Put glue on the lantern panel tab and the next side of the bottom tab. 
  • Glue the second lantern panel to the first lantern panel and the next bottom tab. Hold until the glue sticks.
  • Put glue on the last lantern panel tab and the last lantern bottom tab and glue the final sides together. Hold until the glue sticks.

Safety

Please only use led lights inside the lantern. It is paper. An open flame is a fire hazard.

Now you have a gorgeous fun way to countdown those days til Santa arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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