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DIY Birthday Countdown

Birthday | Paper Crafts

Create a DIY Birthday Countdown to help someone special count down the days until their Birthday! This birthday countdown is simple to customize and a fun birthday gift for all ages!

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Birthday countdown sign with paper cake made out of numbered flaps; the top reads "Ten Days 'till 10".

Create a birthday countdown for someone special to help them count down to their big day! Birthday countdowns are a fun way to create excitement leading up to a birthday.

Similar to an Advent Calendar, the birthday boy or girl will lift up one flap each day as they count down the days until their birthday. You can choose to put special messages under the flaps, directions on where to find a gift, or clues to what a large gift may be. Anything goes!

This countdown is simple to create using paper and can be easily customized by changing the number of flaps, the color of the paper and of course what is under each flap. My countdown is for a 10th birthday so I included 10 numbered flaps. Make your cake taller for an older birthday and for a longer countdown. 

A countdown can be especially fun for milestone birthdays like a golden birthday, turning double-digits, becoming a teenager, or for adults turning 21, 30, 40 etc. 

Birthday countdown with numbered flaps 1 through ten.

Here are a few ideas of what you can put under the flaps! 

  • Reasons why the birthday boy or girl is special. The top label could read “10 Reasons We Love You”
  • Directions on where to find hidden gifts, Example: “Look under the sofa for a special surprise”
  • Clues to what a large birthday gift may be. Example: “You’ll need your walking shoes.”
  • Hand-written messages from family and friends.
  • QR codes to family and friends sending birthday wishes.
  • QR codes to a special song each day. 

DIY Birthday Countdown Sign

Supplies Needed

Paper and letter and number stickers lay on a table.

Assembling the Birthday Countdown

Step One: Cut the paper pieces for the countdown.

Start by cutting paper to create flaps for the cake, candles, flames and a cake platter. Below are the dimensions I cut my pieces. I made my cake 3 rows of 4 flaps, so I cut 12 cake flaps total.

  • Cake Flaps: Cut pieces that measure 2″ x 4″, folded in half they will each measure 2″ x 2″
  • Candles: Cut pieces that measure 0.5″ x 1.5″
  • Cake Platter: Cut one piece that measures 0.5″ x 9″ 
  • Flames: Freehand (mine each measured about 5/8″ x 7/8″)

Paper is cut with a paper trimmer.

Fold the paper flaps in half. A scoring board is handy for creating crisp fold lines but isn’t necessary. 

A bone folder is used to score pieces of paper.

Paper flaps folded in half lay next to a bone folder.

Step Two: Create the birthday cake from paper flaps.

Adhere the paper flaps to the 12″ x 12″ piece of paper to make a cake. Use a paper and pencil to add guide lines to the paper sign. I lightly added guide lines 2″ from the sides, 1″ from the bottom and 5.25″ from the top. 

Design for birthday countdown.

A ruler and pencil lay on a piece of blue paper.

Adhere the flaps to the paper sign using a glue stick or double-sided tape. 

Colorful flaps of paper from a cake shape.

Step Three: Add candles and the cake platter!

Use glitter paper to add candles to the top of the cake. You can add candles that match the age the birthday boy or girl is turning or add a random amount like I did. I chose to add seven candles and topped each with a gold glitter flame using foam tape so they would pop off the page! 

Paper candles with gold glitter paper flames are added to the top of the cake.

Step Four: Decorate the countdown with numbers and a title. 

Mark each flap with a number counting down the days until the birthday. I used raised stickers and added numbers 1-10 counting down. Since my cake had 12 flaps, two flaps didn’t have numbers. You could add numbers using stickers, vinyl, markers, or printing them from your computer. 

Numbers stickers are added to the top of the flaps.

Use a ruler to add a title to the top of the birthday sign. I chose “Ten Days till 10”. It helped to tape my ruler to the table with Painters Tape to keep my title straight. 

Stickers are added to the top of the paper that read "Ten Days 'till 10".

The countdown is finished! Add something special under each flap and gift the countdown to someone special! This is such a fun way to countdown to a birthday. It’s a nice visual representation for younger kids but is also fun for older kids and adults. 

Birthday countdown sign with paper cake made out of numbered flaps; the top reads "Ten Days 'till 10".

I love creating handmade decorations and cards for birthdays! Be sure to check out my DIY Birthday Crafts page for more ideas or visit my Party Ideas page for themed-party ideas! 

Happy Crafting! -Kim

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