Advent Calendars - what do you think of them?


I seem to find more and more Advent calendar thingies in catalogs these days. You know, they could be anything from a huge wall hanging with boxes for each day of Advent that have the number of the days to count down with candy inside, or as simple as a calendar that you put stickers on.

It seems that it is a secularization of Advent to just a count down to the day the prizes arrive around the tree any nothing else.

Do any of you use any of these devices with your children? How do you keep the proper liturgical context if you do? As a new wife with no children, and our first married Christmas coming up, I’m starting to look at things with a new perspective.




Liza -

First, congrats :). This is my first married Christmas as well :). My husband has an Advent calendar (I haven’t actually seen it yet), but growing up we had one every year. We would make ours with left over Christmas cards - lots of nativity scenes and whatnot to remind us of what Christmas is really all about. No candy, no Santa or snowmen - just counting down the days :).


I think they’re fun, we always had one growing up, with a big tree and each day you hang an ornament on the tree. I haven’t done these with my children, because I’m Catholic now, and we do the Advent wreath and candles instead, and try to hold off on “Christmas” stuff until later in the month – like after the second week of Advent.

I’ve seen some nice, Catholic advent calendars, one in the EWTN Religious catalogue, so if you like the idea of the calendars, just not the secular ones, you could go that way. Build up the anticipation for the arrival of Baby Jesus instead of the arrival of presents and goodies.


I think it’s WONDERFUL that your thinking about this now, even before children. We started very secular after our children (neither DH nor I even attended church then). Now, we have to revamp everything.

If you decided to use the Advent Calendar, just keep your focus on the coming of Our Lord! You could put scripture readings in each box, a craft idea focused on Advent, different activities to do together to make this your tradition.

Like on the Dec 6 read a picture book about St Nicholas, Dec 12 a craft and/or book about Our Lady of Guadalupe…whatever you want. Or like Susie mentioned use it to add special ornaments.

Skip the candy in each drawer… Make it something memorable for your family.


Last year my kids and I made a Jesse Tree. It is a wonderful little thing that can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. There are many web pages you can look up to tell you what to do. Essentially the tree has symbols for all of Salvation history starting with creation and culminating with the birth of Jesus. Each day you add a symbol to your tree. We bought 2.5 inch flat wooden ornament disks from a local craft store, painted each one a different color, and then decoupaged a picture of the symbol on it. We bought gold cord for each one. On the back of each ornament we wrote the symbol, what it stood for, and the Bible verse. Then every day we hung a symbol (on a small tabletop tree) and read the little paragraph about that symbol (from the internet). It really kept it about God.


I had an advent calandar when I was growing up, and I loved it. I’ve had them with my own children, too. I am currrently looking for one that is nativity themed.


We don’t have this one, but I’ve thought about buying it in the future:

It’s spendy, but I like that you are building up to Christ’s birthday by making the manger scene; baby Jesus is the payoff! :wink:


My darling MIL has bought them secular ones with chocolate in them. I think I have a barbie, a bratz and a spiderman-very Christmassy!
I have got my Aunt, who runs the repository in her parish, to send me ones with a Nativity scene on them-they can open these, then have the chocolate out of the other ones, which won’t be on display.


Growing up we used to always get the ones with little pieces of Chocolate in them. It’s a very popular German tradition during Advent.
We couldn’t always find ones that had religious scenes on them (depending on what was carried at the stores that year)… sometimes it had nativity scenes, sometimes Santa…
But it was more of a “traditional” thing in our house… counting down the days to Jesus’ birthday.

I’m hoping I can find a few of these calanders for my family this year…I always loved that tradition growing up!


Maybe because of my German background they have always been part of our family Advent. We seldom saw our grandmother since she lived out west in a dry climate for her asthma, but she always sent Advent calendars for each of the 6 of us, beautiful, imported from Germany. Frankenmuth MI with its Christmas super-stores has examples of fabulous religious Advent calendars from several countries. our favorites were the ones with chocolates inside. We had to take turns opening the windows but I still feel the excitement and expectation for not just the presents, but the coming of Jesus, and the moment when Baby Jesus is placed in the manger at Midnight Mass.

I send them to my grandchildren, the baby is getting his own it is fabric with little stuffed figures so he will be building a Bethlehem-nativity scene as the month progresses.

the other family is getting a package with a big advent calendar, a sticker book with Advent activities, a child’s devotional, a seek-and-find book with advent and Christmas symbols (one page actually does use jesse tree symbols, I think), and a Jesse Tree kit. DD will have to figure out how they will share this stuff.


We used to do a Jesse tree each Christmas in my (Catholic) primary school - for the pre-teenagers anyways. They’re a lovely alternative to the more secular and chocolate-laden calendars out there.


:slight_smile: My mom is german & we had the chocolate calendars every year. LOL My brother would open every door & eat ALL of his in probably a day or two. I’d go in his room to ask what he got & his entire calendar was empty.

I’ve seen the calendars this year in Michaels Craft Store, our local German Coffee shop, the commissary, a Christmas craft fair …they are out there already!


We have a couple of different types and an Advent wreath.
I do buy the chocolate ones, but before my children open it every night, they chose one of their toys to give to charity.

I must admit it is a little self serving, I get thier playroom cleaned out before Grandparents come over Christmas morning with the Toys R Us truck. (But we’ll save that for another thread!)


When I was pregnant with dd, I made an Advent calendar with pockets on the bottom half numbered 1-25, the top half is plain dark blue (top) and green (bottom). I made little sheep, camels, wise men, angels, the holy family, etc. out of felt scraps, beads and embroidery. I used hooks and eyes and snaps on the back of each piece and on the upper half of the calendar. Each day in advent we pull one piece out of the pockets and affix it on the top. We read a Bible passage loosely corresponding to that part of the Nativity story, affix it in place, pray, and light the Advent wreath. Even now, 15 years later, DD has taken over the task on Thanksgiving weekend to get out the Advent calendar and put the pieces in the pockets and look up and place appropriate scripture verses in each pocket and hang it on the dining room wall.

Granted, I was bed ridden at the time I made it, with nothing else to do but lie in bed and sew and glue, but it has staying power as a family tradition to help keep us focused.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit