Growing up our family had one of the Avon Christmas Count-Down Calendars from 1987 with the mouse that moved from one day to the next. While not a true Advent calendar as it simply counts 1-24, the practice of building expectation by marking the days leading up to Christ’s coming is etched in my memory (as is the spirit of competition with my siblings to be the one to wake up and move the mouse first, complete with gloating, “I moved the mousey” song that sits squarely outside the spirit of Advent). Advent calendars and similar traditions can be helpful tools for faith formation at home. Here are a number of options, some of which are free and some require purchase or donations.
AdventWord is an interactive, global Advent Calendar offering images and meditations for reflection every day of Advent. You can download the official #AdventWord graphics here. #AdventWord is great for concentrating on specific terms and practices pulled from the Lectionary readings and Way of Love practices. This year, Forward Movement is offering Waiting and Watching: Advent Word Reflections for only $7 and less if buying in bulk. Sybil MacBeth also partnered with Forward Movement and #AdventWord to create the Waiting and Watching: Advent Word Poster to help folks practice Praying in Color while participating in #AdventWord (1-2 is $12; 3+ is $10).
Praying In Color
Advent 2020 Praying in Color templates from Sybil MacBeth are available for free on her Handouts page. MacBeth also provides guidance for how to introduce Praying in Color as a practice. Her designs from previous years are available, too.
3 Daily Practices Calendars
Advent 2020 Calendar from Orange Kids and Parent Cue is available for free download if you provide your email address. Intended to encourage gathering as a family, this calendar offers brief conversation starters and activities to build the anticipation leading up to Christmas, some silly or seemingly unrelated and some more meaningful. Items include writing a card to someone, having a gift-wrapping competition, and donating toys to a local shelter or thrift store. A key selling point is that this calendar is available in both Spanish and English.
Get ready for Christ(mas)! Advent Calendar 2020 is free from the United Church of Canada. The way that this calendar decenters the self in activities is refreshing. Examples include sending a card or a note to someone, asking a loved one how you can pray for them, and having a garbage-free or reduced-garbage day. Their Advent Unwrapped page offers a number of other great ideas and resources.
Faithful Families Advent Calendar December 2020 is available on author Traci Smith’s Etsy page. These are an affordable option for churches wanting to share a fun resource with families ($5.00 for 0-6 copies, $35 for up to 100 copies, and $50 for up to 500 copies). Each day rotates through practices under the headings of LIGHT, PRAY, SERVE, SHARE, and CONNECT. Examples include lighting a candle for hope, taking a treat to a neighbor, and sharing when you have felt God’s love.
Way of Love Calendar
Journeying the Way of Love Advent Calendar 2020 is free from The Episcopal Church via download. It is particularly good for older children, teens, and adults. There are prompts for reflection and potentially discussion together. Examples include setting a timer for three minutes and repeating the prayer “Here I am, God” until the time is up; taking a different route to work, school, or play and noticing what you encounter differently; and considering what part of gathering for worship fills your heart with hope. This could pair well with other Way of Love resources like the Advent Curriculum here.
Advent Calendar Cards
Advent Calendar is new from Salt*. Each day has its own hand-illustrated card that can be put into numbered envelopes, hung up, or used in another way. Sundays include words from scripture, a brief meditation, and a simple prayer; weekday cards include a simple, engaging daily practice to try. We love the beauty of these. The personal use download is $10 and they offer very reasonable increased costs for use on a larger scale ($35 for 100 or fewer congregation members, $45 for 100-500 members, $60 for 500+ members). They have a handful of other Advent resources including a Mason Jar Advent Calendar in their Printable Resources.
Rituals & Prayers Advent Calendar
Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas 2020-2021 is a deck of cards full of rituals, prayers and reflections, new from Augsburg Fortress. These are great for families to create a new ritual at a specific time of day or carry them on the go. The pack of cards is $9.99.
Advent Calendar Poster
Slow Down. Quiet. It’s Advent! from Forward Movement offers ideas for prayer, helping others, and being thoughtful about the true meaning of Christmas. The cost of $12 per pack of 25 posters is even manageable on a large scale (price decreases to $7 per pack over 5).
Advent Giving Calendar
2020 Gifts for Life Advent Calendar from Episcopal Relief and Development is great for individuals, couples, Small Groups, Sunday School Classes, or families who want to intentionally increase their financial giving to others. They also offer other activities and resources in their One Thousand Days of Love Advent Toolkit.
Scripture Advent Calendar
Be on the lookout for the December 2020 Everyday Faith Calendar from Concordia Publishing House. This year they have been offering monthly calendars that include daily scripture passages to read and questions for reflection. These are a great way to start daily faith practices at home. The December calendar isn’t out yet, but you can see previous months to get an idea of what to expect.
What is your favorite Advent Calendar? Know of a new one to add to our list? Tell us in the comments!