DIY advent calendar: Nativity scene


It is a dear tradition in our family to get the kids an advent calendar. Now, for this year I wanted to make something myself rather than buy a run-off-the-mill calendar. And of course, being an advent calendar, it should be related to the story of Christmas.

Voila, enter the DIY nativity scene advent calendar:

The calendar consists of 24 match boxes, each covered with a cut-out figure. Here is the complete tableau:

The match boxes themselves contain candy (in small quantities – I’m all for keeping materialism to reasonable limits, especially around Christmas).

Now, you may wonder why the boxes aren’t numbered, just like they should be for an advent calendar. You can of course do that, but for this year I will do it differently for my kids: Each day, they get one of the boxes (the ones shown, plus enough additional sheep and shepherds to get the 24 complete).

In this way, the nativity scene is gradually revealed, until on Christmas, it will be complete. Which in my mind is much nicer than just having it sitting in the living room long before Christmas.

If you want to make this yourself, the good news is that it’s extremely straightforward: Just print the PDF template (see below) on sturdy cardboard, cut it out, and glue it to (empty) match boxes. The template is for boxes that are roughly 35 x 50 mm in size. Fill the boxes with sweets, and you are good to go.

Upon request, I have made another template for the three wisemen:

And an angel:


Here is the 2-page PDF.

And if you prefer the template in PNG format, here it is.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. For more details on what you can and cannot do with my work, see here.


  1. Dixie Torrech,

    Maybe think about a camel for next year? I just put my blocks out for Christmas (I absolutely love them) and thought a camel would be a nice addition. Maybe you’ll consider? Thanks!

    1. admin,

      I will definitely consider it. In fact, it’s been something I meant to do for quite a while now, but just haven’t got around to actually doing it. I will try my best to come up with a camel soon…

      1. David Elcock,

        Hi, I have a Camel is that helps based on your wonderful designs/ We used it it in the UK as part of the BBC’s Songs of Praise programme on TV. We can send you the PDF as a starter if that helps? They are blown up to be life-size though.

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  3. Leilani,

    Thank you very much!! This is adorable. I appreciate you sharing it with everyone.

  4. Mariana Green da Fontoura,

    Óóóó, I’m in love with your work. I was looking for something to work with my 3yo that could be carry away ’cause we will travel in the middle os the advent and this is PERFECT, so blessing.
    Thank you for sharing.
    May the grace of God be with you and your family.
    Big hug from Brasil

    1. admin,

      Hey, thanks for the kind comment! I know what you are talking about – we often travel with our kids, too, and it’s difficult to find toys and projects to take with you. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  6. Julie Rose,

    Hi. These are awesome. Just wondered if u had them in black and white? My grand-daughter is hugely into colouring and doing things herself so I thought to colour and glue them with her is a great extension of a wonderful idea.thankyou so much.

    1. admin,

      Hi Julie – will try to work on a B/W version in the near future.

      1. Lena,

        Hey :)
        I love to do this with my kids in school. Is there excisting a B/W version, yet?

        1. admin,

          Hi Lena, thanks for your comment! Unfortunately at the moment I do not have a black-and-white version.

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  10. Robin,

    Thank you so much I will display this for Christmas, in a tall cake stand with a glass dome cover. I am so excited!

  11. Narelle,

    Absolutely brilliant! We have blown these up and used them at work in our desk pop nativity scene, and I’m super excited to say we won the pod competition with them! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing art! Would love to send a picture of our pod!

  12. David,

    These are wonderful. We took your worksheet and scaled up the drawings to life size. They were then used as props in shopping centre where local churches dressed shoppers and families up as nativity characters inf front of a backdrop to take their photo. All for free. We hope that’s ok? They even featured on TV here in the UK last week. We also added a camel. Than you for sharing your talent.

    1. David,

      Sorry didn’t see that my earlier post had gone throught and that you had replied. Cheers David

  13. Sakartonn,

    Thank you very much, it is very nice.
    This nativity scene is now in Paris (France). You can see mine on my blog.

    1. admin,

      Hi Sakartonn, thanks for the feedback. I’ve looked it up on your blog (nice blog, by the way) – looks great. Thanks for sharing, and give my regards to the beautiful city of Paris!

  14. David,

    These are wonderful, thank you. We also hope it’s ok we took your design sheet and made lifesize versions of these for a nativity scene. It was shown in TV. We also added a camel.

    1. admin,

      Wow, lifesize versions? Must have been quite some work! And yes, that’s of course ok.

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  16. Mrs Niddler,

    You can never have too many nativity sets and this one is great, thank you!

  17. LuluTX,

    Great idea. Did you have the boxes on hand or do you have a source for them? Thanks.

    1. admin,

      The boxes are regular matchboxes – you should be able to get them in any hardware store.

  18. Mimi Zwonull,

    Hi, super, vielen Dank für die super Idee und die PDF.
    It’s a brilliant idea and it can be a nice gift for kids. Thanks for sharing your talent.

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  21. Eroca Brawne,

    I love your work. I’ve been cutting, folding and glueing paper since I was a small child and still love it, your designs are thoughtful and clever!

  22. Susie,

    Fantabulous! You truly put thought and heart into what you are generously sharing with all of us. Love your talent and kindness. Blessings to You and Yours from Port Huron Michigan

  23. jet,

    aaaw this is so brilliant, i like it, thank you for the sharing and the templates. I love and like it !!!!;-D

  24. Mike,

    Just completed the whole Nativity set. Looks great.

    Yes, an angel would really round out the whole Christmas tableau.

    Thanks for all the cool things on your site.

  25. Dixie,

    Oh my. I’m so excited that your responded to my comment. We are planning on doing this nativity activity with our little ones during our Sunday School hour lesson/party on December 7th. We will print a corresponding Bible verse to go with the illustration and glue it inside the matchbox, so they can retell the Christmas story themselves. I would be so delighted and GRATEFUL if you would do an angel for the set. I showed the idea to a co-teacher and she is over the moon for the idea. Our kids are going to love making such a treasured keepsake for the years to come. Again, deepest gratitude for sharing this.

    1. admin,

      The Bible verse idea is great! Thanks for sharing – good luck with the Sunday School on the 7th!

  26. Dixie,

    Would love an angel. These are beautiful. Thanks SO much for your generosity to share them.

    1. admin,

      Chances are slim, unfortunately, as I am very busy with a couple of other things that, well, have to take priority.

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  30. Susie,

    I was never into the various “open the window” type of Advent calendars. This, though, Genious! I love how you share it with your children.

    1. admin,

      Good point – if I can find the time, I will make them before the Christmas season comes around.

      1. Leslie,

        Not online wise men, but, camels, Angels, palm trees (?), there are many other items that could be used to fill up the 24… LOVE THIS!!!!

  31. Ronelle Capelli,

    Thank you for sharing your talent with all these printables for us to do and play with.

  32. Ginny,

    Where have you been all my life? Everything here is awesome. But, this nativity scene…I’m in love. Thank you so much for making this available.

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