Using an Advent calendar is my favorite way to pay attention and pray during the four weeks of Advent. Unlike the store-bought versions, my calendars have no doors, just blank spaces for the days of Advent. Each day I write a name or word and surround it with doodles and color. This is my way to pray in the days leading up to Christmas. The daily practice of drawing on the calendar gives me a creative and simple way to immerse myself in the Advent experience and to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The accumulation of daily doodlings forms a colorful tapestry and a record of my spiritual journey. This practice feels prayerful and playful. No artistic skill is necessary! (Examples from previous years are at the bottom of the post.)
2022 Advent Calendar TemplatesClick on the name below the calendars to access the .pdf of the calendar template and download from there. Feel free to share the calendar templates with other individuals or groups. Please Share this post on your social media platforms. Thanks! These templates are also available on the Resources Page.
Ways to Use the Calendar Templates1) Write a name in the space 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, pray them–in your mind or write the word on the page. Squeeze them onto the calendar in the shape or along the margins. 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. Returning to the calendar each day is a visual reminder to pray for each person again.
2) Choose a word from the daily Scripture readings for the season. Here is a website to access the Revised Common Lectionary. The RCL uses the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, but look at other versions for slightly different language.
3) Choose a word from a book of Advent meditations. Combine your calendar with one of the many wonderful books of daily Advent meditations and reflections. Read the entry for the day and choose a word that jumps out at you. Write the word in the shape and start to doodle and color around it. Marinate in the word. What is it saying to you? What does God have to say to you about the word? Keep a computer or notebook next to your calendar so you can write any insights or “ahas.”
4) Write and ponder an Advent word like prepare, wait, pregnant, hope, watch, darkness, wilderness, longing, light…as you doodle and color. #AdventWord, a ministry of Forward Movement, offers words for each day and the chance to see how others throughout the world have reflected on the word. Sign up to receive a daily meditation on the word. The finished calendar is a visual dictionary of some of the important concepts of Advent. In the examples below are the AdventWord list for 2020, the calendar template I created for Forward Movement to go with the words, and my filled-in calendar.
5) Write something you hope for each day. Advent is a season of hope. Choose a word of hope and write it in the space. Let the word fill you as you draw and add color.
6) 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 about Jesus and God.
7) 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 Peace, 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.
8) Just color and doodle in the space. For smaller children, print the calendar on 11″x17″ paper to create larger spaces. (I do this for myself, too.) Teach them about Advent as a “one day at a time” journey. Light a battery-powered votive candle and give them a quiet, secret place to work.
Examples from Previous YearsHere are some examples from previous years. The blank template is on the left; the finished calendar on the right.
Thanks to Cindy O for her 2021 calendar and for the Grid Calendar Template she created for this year. Thanks also to friends who allowed me to use their finished calendars from 2021.
Once again, you give us gently powerful tools to encourage our time with God–thanks, Sybil!
Thanks again, Chris. Once again, you affirm my work.