My early-childhood, next-door neighbor always had an Advent calendar. In our Christian Science household we did not celebrate Advent, but I coveted all those little doors my friend Marian opened every day in the weeks before Christmas. Each door revealed tiny, colorful scenes of sheep, shepherds, stars, and angels. The pictures summarized the stories I knew from The Bible and from Christmas carols. I think an occasional Santa Claus and reindeer popped out of doors, too.
Advent is now my favorite season of the Church year and using an Advent calendar is my favorite way to pay attention to the four weeks before Christmas. The calendars I use, however, are different from the store-bought versions. Mine have no doors, just a calendar template with blank spaces for the days of Advent. Each day I fill one of the little spaces with my prayers–not just verbal prayers but visual ones. The calendar grows day by day with doodles, drawings, and words–whatever feels right. After four weeks the page is a patchwork quilt of my small, daily efforts to be present with God. This practice feels prayerful and playful.
I posted the first Advent templates in 2009. I still love using the calendars because they engage my mind and my body in the Advent experience. The daily practice of drawing on the calendar gives me a creative and simple way to immerse myself in the story of God’s Incarnation and to watch and wait for the celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25. The accumulation of my daily doodlings is a colorful tapestry and a record of my spiritual journey for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Below are samples from past years, a list of ways to use this year’s calendar templates, and eight possible templates.
Finished Calendars from Previous Years
Creating an Advent calendar is not supposed to produce a great work of art. Enjoy the process. Drawing skills are not a requirement! Advent calendars can also be just black and white.
The free, downloadable calendar templates below provide spaces for your daily prayers, words, and doodles. Since Advent starts on December 1st this year, each calendar has twenty-four empty spaces. These Advent calendars are for both adults and children.
Ways to Use the Calendar Templates
1) In a space or shape on the calendar, write the name of someone for whom you are praying. Doodle around the name, add color. Think of each stroke of color or each doodled mark (line, dot, arc, spiral…) as a wordless prayer. If words come to you as you draw and color, pray them. Squeeze them onto the calendar in the shape or along the margins if they feel important. When you have finished with your daily entry, say “Amen” or recite a short passage of Scripture appropriate to Advent like “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” (Psalm 27:1) This tiny colorful mosaic creates a frame around the person’s name. Every time I look at the calendar, the names and designs are a visual reminder to pray for each person again.
2) Combine your calendar with one of the many wonderful Advent books of meditations and reflections. Read the entry for the day. Choose a word from the reading that jumps out at you. Write it in the shape and start to doodle and color around it. Marinate in the word. What is the word saying to you? What does God have to say to you about the word?
Listening + doodling+ coloring = praying. Keep a computer or notebook next to your calendar so you can write any insights or “ahas.”
3) Write and ponder an Advent word: prepare, wait, pregnant, hope, watch, darkness, wilderness, longing, light… as you doodle and color.
#AdventWord, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary, offers a new word each day and the chance to see how others throughout the world have reflected on the word.
4) Advent is a season of hope. Write something you hope for each day. Offer that idea to God as you draw, write, and color.
5) Celebrate the Women and Men of the Bible. Choose a different person for each day and learn what they did and why they are important to our story and God’s story. As you draw, be quiet and listen to what these people might reveal to you.
6) Advent means “coming,” and specifically the coming of Jesus. Write one of the many names for Jesus in the daily box. Here are a few of the many ways we refer to Jesus: savior, messiah, friend, Prince of Jesus, Emmanuel…. Use the Bible, Handel’s Messiah, Christmas carols, and hymns to uncover those names. Pray and ponder how that name for Jesus stirs, affects, annoys, delights, or inspires you.
7) Choose a word from the daily lectionary readings for the season. Here is a link to the Vanderbilt University site for the daily readings.
7) For smaller children, print the calendar on 11″x17″ paper and just let them color. Light a battery-powered votive candle and give them a quiet, secret place to work. The Advent Tree template might be a simple one for a child to use.
2019 Advent Calendar Templates in .pdf form.
Click on the links below the pictures for the one you want. When the image appears as a google doc, click on the download button at the top (the square with the downward facing arrow). Download first; then print. Feel free to share the calendar templates with others, for individual or group use.
Thanks to Cindy O for creating the Box Calendar template for 2019.
- Advent is short this year. It starts on Dec 1 and lasts 24 days.
- Each calendar has a space for Christmas. On the Advent Tree Calendar it is the star. The Angel Calendar has the face of the angel.The Box Calendar has the central oval. The Star Calendar has the large Star of David in the center.
- I like to enlarge the 8.5″x11″ format to 11″x17″ card stock. It gives me more room to doodle and color and consequently more time and space with the person or word.
- Thanks to Cindy O. for the 2019 Box Calendar template.
P.S. If you have trouble downloading the template, send me an email from the Contact page and I’ll send a calendar template to you directly. Sometimes school and church computers or accounts will not allow you to download things from unknown sites on the internet. If you contact me, use your home email instead of a school or church email. If you would prefer a .jpg, contact me.