If you’ve ever found shop-bought Advent calendars a little lacking, and want an easy way to be guided through the season with some spiritual reading and daily challenges to put your faith into action in the run-up to Christmas, you might like this simple Advent calendar DIY.
Simply copy the prompts, below, onto pieces of paper by hand, or copy and paste them into a file, print them off, cut them up, and roll them into little scrolls to hang with string from a branch of greenery, bannister, curtain pole, or anything you like. You could also keep it super simple and just print off or copy out our 24 prompts, below, as a straightforward list, stick it somewhere visible in your home.
Either way, this is a lovely way to prepare for Christmas day-by-day throughout Advent, as an adult or together with children. Feel free to adapt the readings and action challenges, depending on your needs and capabilities. You can also keep these prompts and adapt them each Advent—they’ll need a little tweaking for shifting dates and Saints’ days, but should be easily adapted year after year.
And, if you’d like to do some extra reading with your children this season, make sure you don’t miss our two new Christmas books, which make perfect reading during Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.
First Sunday of Advent
Read: Isaiah 2:2-5
Act: Write someone a card or letter to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Second day of Advent
Read: Isaiah 9:1-3
Act: Look out for all the beautiful things in the world around you today—at the end of the day, write down a list of the things you noticed, and thank God for them.
Third day of Advent, Feast of Saint Francis Xavier
Read: Isaiah 9:4-6
Act: Practise sharing today by giving someone something you wanted for yourself.
Fourth day of Advent, Feast of Saint John Damascene
Read: Isaiah 11:1-5
Act: Think of someone who needs special prayers, and go without something you like today. When you find yourself missing it, turn your thoughts to Jesus and pray for the person you chose.
Fifth day of Advent
Read: Isaiah 11:6-9
Act: Read the story of Saint Nicholas, and think about what you can learn from his life. Don’t forget to put out your shoes tonight, children!
Sixth day of Advent, Feast of Saint Nicholas
Read: Isaiah 26:8-9
Act: Go about your day looking out for little ways you can be more like Saint Nicholas, doing secret acts of kindness without seeking thanks or praise.
Seventh day of Advent, Feast of Saint Ambrose
Read: Isaiah 28:16-18
Act: Go out of your way to serve someone, or do extra chore at home, work, or school, today.
Second Sunday of Advent
Read: John 1:1-9
Act: Welcome someone who might be lonely into your home by inviting them to a family meal with you this Advent and Christmas season.
Ninth day of Advent, Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Read: Luke 1:5-17
Act: Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary today.
Tenth day of Advent
Read: Luke 1:18-25
Act: Spend some time with someone who needs it, today (ideas: sit with someone who looks lonely at lunch, invite someone to play with you at breaktime, visit an elderly neighbour.).
Eleventh day of Advent, Feast of Saint Damascus I
Read: Luke 1:26-38
Act: Give away one of your possessions without asking for anything in return.
Twelfth day of Advent, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Read: Matthew 1:18-24
Act: Light a candle, if you have one, near a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary today, and spend some quiet time praying this prayer:
“Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose, please pray for the Holy Church, protect the Pope, help all those who call to you, and since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of God, ask your most holy Son to give us the grace of keeping our faith, which gives us sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, burning charity, and the precious gift of perseverance to the end of our lives. Amen.”
Thirteenth day of Advent, Feast of Saint Lucy
Read: Luke 1:39-45
Act: Read the story of Saint Lucy’s life. What are some of the special ways she showed the world God’s love? Try to think of one small way you could imitate Saint Lucy in your own life, and practise it today.
Fourteenth day of Advent, Feast of Saint John of the Cross
Read: Luke 1:46-56
Act: Do something to help the homeless today (ideas: prayer, donating money or food to your local shelter, offering to buy a homeless person you pass a sandwich).
Third Sunday of Advent
Read: Luke 1:57-66
Act: Call, or send a message to a family member or godparent you’re not in regular touch with today, to let them know you’re thinking of them and to find out how they are. Say a special prayer for them in your prayer time today.
Sixteenth day of Advent
Read: Luke 1:67-80
Act: Spend some time tidying your bedroom today, putting away toys and clutter that you usually leave out, and thanking God in your heart as you tidy for all the good things in your life.
Seventeenth day of Advent
Read: Mark 1:2-8
Act: Spend some time today thinking about your habits. What are the good habits in your life, and what are some habits that aren’t good for you and for others, that you might want to change? Choose one to start working on changing from this day forwards.
Eighteenth day of Advent
Read: Luke 3:1-6
Act: Talk and think about why we call God “Our Lord”, “Master”, and “King”. What kind of King is He? Write down some of the words the Bible uses to describe God (ideas: Just, Wise, Compassionate, Tender, Merciful, Father, Prince of Peace, Faithful, Saviour…).
Nineteenth day of Advent
Read: John 1:14-18
Act: Do something kind for a stranger today. (Ideas: give a stranger you pass on the street some flowers/a plant, bake some cookies and knock on some doors in your neighbourhood to offer them a treat, call your local home for the elderly and ask them if you could visit and bring some Christmas treats.)
Twentieth day of Advent
Read: John 1:19-28
Act: Go without eating chocolate (or another treat that you enjoy) today.
Twenty-first day of Advent
Read: Luke 2:1-5
Act: Copy this prayer out, stick it by your bed, try to learn it off by heart, and practice saying it every morning when you wake up:
“Enlarge my heart, O Lord, that you can enter in.”
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Read: Matthew 1:1-17
Act: Think about the people in your life that you’re grateful for, today. Make or buy some cards that you can send to friends and family after Christmas, to thank them for everything they did to help you have a lovely Christmas celebration this year.
Twenty-third day of Advent
Read: John 3:16-17
Act: Listen to the song, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, and then spend some time in prayer, asking Jesus to be born anew in your heart this Christmas season.
Twenty-fourth day of Advent
Read: Luke 2:6-19
Act: Talk and think about what being patient means. Practice being patient and watching your words today—whenever you feel like whining or someone does something that annoys you, stop and say a quick prayer asking God to help you in that moment.