#Advent is the Catholic Christian season leading up to Christmas. For four weeks, prior to #Christmas, Catholics practice Advent values prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Each week focuses on hope, expectation and joy. Here are free printable advent calendars for kids to make, to guide Christmas devotions.

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Why skip Advent calendars with candy and prizes?

Many holiday calendars contain candy or rewards. While there's nothing wrong with a little treat, materialism defeats the spiritual purpose: to focus on God.

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Constantly receiving teaches children (and adults) to be even more aquisitory than they already are at Christmas. If they're getting stuff all season long, where's the magic of Christmas morning? Advent is about preparing for the coming of Christ with acts of Christian charity.

Homemade Advent calendars

The artist of the picture on this article has given permission to print and use it to make Christmas countdown and Advent calendars. Loyolapress.com has templates for free printable Catholic Bible Advent calendars. Children read Bible stories and practice the gospel values of prayer, fasting, and charity. Have children make their own calendar. There's a free printable calendar with Catholic feast days listed. Print Bible clipart from Clipartpal.com or free Christian Christmas coloring pages from picgifs.com. Write Bible verses and gospel passages on the back of clipart.

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Have children list daily acts of holiday kindness: visit the elderly, pass out cocoa at a Christmas parade, wrap Giving Tree gifts.

Free secular, religious Advent calendars

Check the "Christmas" page under "Celebrate" at MrPrintables.com for free printable Advent calendar crafts. They're not religious. but they could be made that way adding Bible gospel readings and works of mercy. Sign up for ZonderKidz from Bible Gateway and get a free Jesus Storybook and Bible verse calendar to print. Spiritual Advent calendars teach children that the best Christmas gifts don't come in a wrapped box. The very best Christmas present, the reason for the season, was born in a rough manger. Wissenswuerze.de is printed in German but has cute free printable Advent calendars that are easy to make even if you don't speak the language. AllfreeChristmascrafts.com has tons of free printables for Christmas crafts.

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allcrafts.net/xmas/advent-calendars.htm has a bunch more.

Free printable Advent wreath, Jesse Tree ornaments and crafts

The sites above have free printable Advent wreath crafts too. ERIErcd.org/jessetree.htm has patterns for free printable Jesse Tree crafts and Christmas ornaments for kids to color. The Jesse Tree is a visual aid that tells the genealogy of Jesus. It takes children through major Bible stories. Each night of Advent, children color a symbol to add to the tree, taking them to the O Antiphons (and ancient Advent prayers said before Christmas). Catholicmom.com has loads of free Advent activities for kids. #freeprintable