Nativity Advent Calendar Pattern and Tutorial

This Nativity advent calendar is made of felt and tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. The printable pattern and tutorial are included here.

Guess what I did last night? My mom brought over the advent calendar she made years ago and I traced all the pieces to make a pattern for all of you who have asked for it! Yay! Are you excited?!

I love it. I love that it tells the story of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem to be taxed. I love pulling out the little plastic baby Jesus on Christmas morning. I love the  handmade charm. And now you can make one for your family too!

Not only is this advent calendar special to me because I grew up with it, but I recently received an email from the original creator’s daughter. What a small world we live in! Carol Ann Thompson first made this calendar in 1965 for a church craft night in Rexburg, Idaho. Since then the pattern has spread around the country and somehow my mother ended up making one too. Thank you, Carol, for a beautiful calendar! I am honored to share the pattern here to continue the tradition of beloved craft ideas being passed from one creative woman to another.  

Materials Needed  (affiliate links)
  • Pattern pieces (download below)
  • One 19″x46″ piece of cream-colored felt for the background
  • One long piece of camel-colored felt for the numbered path
  • Scraps of felt in a variety of colors
  • Fabric glue (or hot glue would work okay…it will just be stiffer)
  • Iron-on, one-sided heavy fusible webbing
  • Two pieces of velcro (the scratchy side only)
  • One tiny plastic baby wrapped in a small scrap of fabric (I have seen them at Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree before too in the baby shower party section)
  • One wooden dowel spray painted gold
  • Decorative ribbon for the top and bottom edges (optional)
  • Twine or ribbon for hanging
1. Print out the pattern pieces so they fit on a normal piece of paper. Just right click on the images at the bottom of this post to save them to your computer.
2. Cut out all the small felt pieces using the photo above for a color guide. One of the palm trees needs to be flipped over so it leans the opposite direction. Look at the photo and that will make sense.
3. Freehand cut the numbered felt path. If you don’t have a long piece of felt, you could cut it from several smaller pieces and just glue them close together so that the seams aren’t noticeable.
4. Glue Mary, Joseph and the donkey together and line the back side with the fusible webbing. This is the piece that moves along the path each day, so the webbing helps it be stiffer and sturdier. Add a strip of Velcro to the back. Make sure it’s the scratchy side so it can grab the felt.
nativity advent calendar DIY
5. Cut out letters and numbers. Type up the words and numbers on the computer, print them out, then use them as pattern pieces or cut the letters and numbers out of craft vinyl using a Silhouette or Cricut machine.
6. Place all your smaller pieces on to the background piece and get them the way you want. Then glue ’em all down.
7. Fold the top of the felt over to form a pocket for the dowel. Or use a long strip of extra felt or fabric. Carefully glue just the edge down. Make sure you don’t glue in too far or the dowel won’t slide through!
advent calendar wall hanging
8. Glue ribbon to the top and bottom edges. (Or leave them plain. That works too!)
9. When all the glue is dry, slide the dowel through the pocket on the back and tie the twine onto the edges that stick out.
10. Add a piece of Velcro (the scratchy side) to the little baby.
diy advent calendar

And that’s it. You are done! This project comes together pretty quickly. Just watch your favorite show while you cut out all the felt and you’ll be done in no time!

Click HERE to download the pattern pieces from Google Drive.

Like this project? Pin it so you don’t forget it!


  1. Bless you!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just sitting down to make one based on your previous post, which I had saved and I just saw you made this pattern!! Thank you, thank you, thank you (and your mom)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Have a blessed Christmas!!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to make the patterns and sharing them!! I remember seeing your original post last year on pinterest and pinned it…I think this will be a great project to work on with my kids this week!

  3. Thank you, Thank you!!! I am so excited to see the pattern. I loved the idea when I saw it last week, but I didn't know if I would have the time or ability to make my own pattern. My mother collects nativities, and now I finally have something that is more original to make for her. Thank you for sharing it!!

    • I don't have a pattern for the numbers or letters. They are about 1 inch tall. I would write up all the words and numbers in WORD in about 99 size font, print them out, and use them as patterns.

      Or if you feel like you can freehand them, cut a bunch of felt rectangles about 1 x 1.5 inches and then make the numbers from there.

  4. I have looked, and looked and looked, and you have given me the very thing I imagined! Though I guess if I imagined it I wouldn't have needed to look. But I wanted a Christ centered countdown that was re-usable and pretty that came with a pattern. THANK YOU!!!

  5. Thank you so much! I’m planning to make this for Christmas my boys are 5, 3 and 1, this will be something special for years to come. Do you use the good quality wool felt or just regular craft felt? Thank you

    • Hi Joyce, when you hit the “click here” button, you should see three pages to download and all of the pieces are there as far as I can tell.

  6. Thank you for this wonderful pattern! I’ve been looking for something like this for the best part of a year now. I have a question, though, that I hope you might be able help me with. Have you found that using the Velcro on Mary and Joseph is pulling up some of the felt fibres? I’m hoping to avoid “fuzzy” marks on the base. Thank you again for sharing your talent.

    • Our calendar is super old with no real signs of wear, so I think it’s okay… although higher quality felt will wear better than the cheap stuff.

  7. Lovely! I will prepare the board this year using this pattern. Thanks for sharing!
    Hermoso! Voy a preparar la cartelera este año usando este diseño. Gracias por Compartir!
    Marina, from Argentina


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