here are a couple of aspects to me that are important to an advent calendar...
1. It is flexible. This means that it isn't a 25 days of December calendar but an advent calendar that follows the Liturgical year...meaning that it can be 4 weeks of 7 days each (1 week I 6 I suppose) or it can be shorter depending on how long Advent is that year.
2. It is reusable year by year. The real problem is that I am not going to be able to make some kind of caldnear every year. So having one that we get out of a box is an important goal.
3. I want colors to reflect winter and liturgical colors (purples and blues) not Christmas colors.
So anyway, the above picture (sorry it's such a bad picture it is from our video camera) is a halfway done calendar. Each of those burlap strips has 7 pockets in it. Each for a person in the nativity, or an ornament, or a candy or a reflection. It still needs a numbering system, some kind of decoration, and some interest. What I do like about it is the that the burlap in it points to John the Baptist an important voice in the Advent readings, and also coffee bags for S and I remind us of the injustice in the world and the connection for advent to creating a new kingdom of God....
We are on our way to an advent calendar...as imperfect as I still think it is.