There are many ways to count the days of Advent. Some are traditional Advent calendars, others are chains or less familiar ways to mark the passing days of waiting.
Advent calendars are a popular way to count the days during Advent. There are many wonderful ones available. Some are serious and others just for fun. It is nice to have one for each child so taking turns isn't an issue—it also says each child is important enough to have their own. These calendars aren't current, but give some idea of the variety that is available.
Nativity Advent Calendars
Just for Fun Calendars
Fling Wide the Doors Advent Calendar
This is my all-time favorite Advent calendar. It follows the church year with biblical characters and saints, including John the Baptist, Nicholas, Lucy; and Los Posadas and the O Antiphons. It begins November 30th (St. Andrew's Day) and continues through Epiphany (January 6) and the Baptism of our Lord. It forms a free-standing tower with translucent pictures that may be lighted from within. The boooklet that comes with the calendar has short daily prayers and readings.
This calendar makes a perfect accompaniment to use with an Advent wreath. As it is a family calendar, each child may still have a personal Advent calendar.
Purchase from Liturgy Training Publications
Canterbury Cathedral Advent Calendar
Advent Ladder—From Heav'n above to earth I come
This Advent ladder is a beautiful way to count the days. Put a star on the blue sky each day and move the Child down a rung. On Christmas Day the Child lies in the manger while behind him the sky is full of stars.
From heav'n above to earth I come
To bring good news to ev'ry one!
Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To all the world, and gladly sing.
Materials needed: Blue posterboard 10x14-ins; 2 ¼-in square dowels, 12-ins long; gold cardstock for ladder; walnut half; sheep's wool; pink scrap for Child's face; gold adhesive stars; 9-in easel back; glue.
Complete directions are found in The Christmas Craft Book by Thomas Berger. It is a wonderful resource with many beautifully designed Advent and Christmas projects. There are four Advent calendar ideas.
Advent Star Spiral
The Star Spiral is a lovely way to mark the days of Advent.
Materials needed: 8-in circle of gold or silver cardstock or thick white watercolor paper; 23-28 2-in stars, gold, silver, or white like the circle; fine matching thread; push pin, piece of foam core board or styrofoam. Use the push pin to make pinprick designs on the stars.
Complete directions are found in Celebrating Christmas by Christina Goodings. This is a simply stunning book—it has activities, stories and more, all with beautiful large photographs. There is another idea for marking the days of Advent, too.
• Put a star on the spiral each day to show the light of Jesus' coming gets brighter as it gets nearer the time.
• Stars may all be made at once, or one can be finished each day to put on the spiral.
• Make a little slit (¼-in) in the spiral where you want to put a star.
• Start at the bottom, and then hang stars further and further up the spiral as Christmas comes nearer and nearer.
• Think about how beautiful stars are and how stars show us the wonder of creation and tell of Jesus' birth.
Learn about Advent along with Mike, Molly and Baby; simple Advent cartoon for December 1 – 25 with Bible verse, short reflection and Christmas carol for each day; nice to use with Advent wreath or alone
Patterns and recipe to make cookies for the O Antiphon days, December 17-23