If I had to choose just one Advent discipline or activity, it would be a doodled Advent calendar. If you have never done this before, it is a simple, daily but satisfying spiritual practice. This kind of calendar is different from the Advent calendars you buy in a store. You create this one with words and doodles. Instead of opening the door of the day with pictures or retrieving small gifts or candies from pockets, the calendar marks the daily journey to Christmas with your prayers and simple drawings. I like to think of this calendar as a “count-up” to Christmas rather than a “count-down.” It is a building up, rather than a tearing apart. The finished Advent calendar is a colorful reminder of what was in your head and on your heart each day. It is a record of the daily spiritual journey through Advent.
Advent calendars are for adults and children. This year’s calendar templates at the bottom of this post are downloadable for free.
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)
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, longing, light…—as you doodle and color.
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) 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.
6) 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 Tree template might be a simple one for a child to use.
This is not supposed to be a great work of art. Enjoy the process. The words, marks, and color end up creating a beautiful tapestry in spite of your skill level! Advent calendars can also be just black and white. No color necessary. Here are some samples of completed Advent calendars from past years. Thanks to Cindy O. and Connie D. for their calendars.
Candles–Connie D, Box Calendar–Cindy O
Here are six 2018 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.
- Advent Tree Calendar 2018 Shapes (.pdf)
- Advent Tree Calendar 2018 Shapes–Dates (.pdf)
- Advent Box Calendar 2018 (.pdf)
- Advent Stained Glass Calendar (.pdf) This one has no dates so you can choose your own path through Advent.
- Advent Calendar 2018 Double Arcs–Dates (.pdf)
- Advent Star Calendar 2018 (.pdf)
- Advent is short this year. It starts on Dec 2 and lasts 23 days.
- Each calendar has a space for Christmas. On the Tree Calendar it is the star. The Box Calendar has a space dated Dec 25. The area surrounding the circle and/or the circle itself on the Stained Glass calendar can be used for Christmas. The Double Arc calendar has its own space in the center for Christmas. 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 2018 Box Calendar template. Notice the Sundays of Advent are larger than the other spaces.
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.