DIY Nativity Advent Countdown Tutorial & Pattern

by Mel

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Countdown to Christmas with this DIY Nativity Advent Calendar. This Christ-Centered advent calendar will keep Christ at the focus of your season as you watch Mary and Joseph get closer to Bethlehem each day of December. 

This post has been updated 11/2017 with new patterns and directions to help make it simpler for you. Enjoy!

DIY Nativity Advent Countdown Tutorial- Christ-Centered Christmas Tradition

Nativity Advent: A Favorite Family Tradition

One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was getting my turn to move Mary and Joseph on our Nativity Advent Countdown. Each day, Mary and Joseph would move closer to Bethlehem. And if I was lucky, my turn would fall on Christmas, when I would get to put baby Jesus in the manger.



When my sisters and I got together this summer for our Christmas In July party, we created our own Nativity Advent Calendars for our own little families.  I hope that my children will get excited to move Mary and Joseph each day and remember why we celebrate Christmas.

Want to Make Your Own?

This DIY Nativity Advent Calendar will take some time to make.  However, if you dedicate just a few hours one night you can have it all finished, just in time for December. Plus, once you create it, you can pull it out year after year.

A few tips:

  • Gather your friends and split up the parts.
  • You can use one large piece of canvas or felt for the background, but I chose to use 2 pieces of stiff felt so that it would fold up and store very compactly in my Christmas totes.
  • Buy a nice wooden hanger to hang it with. I found mine at Ikea for just a few dollars. This wood hanger adds just the perfect finishing touch.
  • The original pattern had the steps going from 1-25 from bottom to top. However, to be geographically correct, I switched the steps so that Mary and Joseph are traveling south from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
  • The “Nazareth” and “Bethlehem” stickers are optional, but I like having them on their so my children are reminded of where this all took place.
  • A glue gun will be your best friend. If you are a seamstress, you could sew each piece on, but then you’ll be spending a lot more time on this nativity advent. I used a glue gun and my countdown has held up for years now without any problems.


Isn’t this wood hanger just perfect for it?


To make your own Nativity Advent Calendars, you’ll need: 

  • 2 large pieces of stiff felt for the background (or use 1 large piece. I chose 2 so that it will store smaller.)
  • a small piece of felt in the following colors: white, yellow, brown, red, purple, green, light blue, and tan (or you can switch up the colors)
  • gold letter stickers for Nazareth and Bethlehem words  (or you can leave without)
  • velcro dots for Mary and Joseph and Jesus
  • scissors
  • glue gun
  • Patterns for all the pieces (we used this one and this one.) When I first made this, I could not find the original pattern my mom had used, so I used those patterns and improvised. However, I’m so happy that my sister found the original pattern that gives each piece by scale so you aren’t guessing on sizes and colors! Click below if you’d like the printable pattern!

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How To Make:

  1. Trace each piece on the colors of felt you prefer. Cut.
  2. Hot glue each piece onto the larger felt backgrounds.
  3. Using a permanent marker, write the numbers on each “stepping stone.”
  4. Keep baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph unattached so that you can move them each day. Add baby Jesus to the manger Jesus on Christmas day.

Show off your Nativity!

I’d love to see your nativity! Share your Nativity advent on social media by tagging @sofestive!


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Marie December 5, 2014 - 6:50 am

Hey! Cute blog! Fun ideas! Iwould love to make an advent calendar like this for my kids. Can I get copies of the patterns you looked at for your ideas?

Laurie October 12, 2019 - 8:56 pm

Hi Melissa
Just came across your Advent Calendar and absolutely love it. I understand how it is meant to work but have one question please. Where is the baby Jesus kept on days 1-24? My plan is to make one for each of my missionary grandsons. Thanks so much!

sofestivemel October 14, 2019 - 12:42 pm

I just keep baby Jesus in a special envelope until Christmas. You could keep it anywhere, but we put Him in the manger first thing Christmas morning!


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