How to face the day? With puppy dogs and winsome looks? With natural scenes of quiet havens? With exotic animals secure in their habitats? With cartoon characters aflame with color?

To mark the days, choose from these diverse ways. Unless otherwise noted, the calendars are generally available in book, museum, department, drug and card stores.

Before the New Year Advent calendars stretch Christmas anticipation from Dec. 1 until the day itself. A stand-up Advent calendar illustrated by New Orleans artist and author Berthe Amoss camouflages 24 windows in a Victorian house scene. As the windows are opened, the story of St. Nicholas's arrival by moonlight is told in pictures and the words of Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas." The "Noah's Ark" Birthday Calendar, with rhyming couplets as well as illustrations by Amoss, is a new variation to mark the days until a child's own birthday (More Than a Card Inc., W.J. Fantasy).

City and Suburbs "The Capital Bicentennial Edition" wall and desk calendars, celebrating the anniversary of Pierre L'Enfant's arrival to begin the capital's design, had the help of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The calendars juxtapose Lelia Hendren's familiar color photographs of today's city against scenes from the society's archives (Starwood Publishing Inc.).

"Town Scenes of Rockville" is a tour of the landmarks as drawn and edited by students of Richard Montgomery High School, Montgomery County's oldest high school. Available from Peerless Rockville Historic Preservation Ltd., P.O. Box 4262, Rockville, Md. 20850.

African American Heritage Brian Lanker's "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America" celebrates Eva Jessye, choral director; Rosa Parks, who kept her seat on the bus and changed the world; Barbara Jordan, a former Texas state senator and U.S. representative; and 11 other wonderful women (Stewart,Tabori & Chang Inc.).

Frederick Douglass was born on Valentine's Day 1817 in Tuckahoe, Md. -- as chronicled on "A Journey Into 365 Days of Black History," a wall calendar with portraits for each month and facts for every day, by What's a Face Inc., "anthrophotojournalists" of Adelphi. Pete Jackson made the montage cover. Lena Horne wrote the foreword (Pomegranate Calendars & Books).

"Shades of Manhood," a 14-month calendar, portrays in black-and-white two male Howard University students a month and gives academic dates of importance. Profits from the first 1,000 sold will go to the Howard University Hospital boarder babies, said Michael Elazier, the calendar's producer-photographer. Available from Elazier, P.O. Box 76772, Washington, D.C. 20013.

"We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war." Those are some of "The Words of Martin Luther King Jr." from a wall calendar (Newmarket Press in New York) authorized by the King estate. The calendar is based on the book by Coretta Scott King and is illustrated with 13 historic photographs.

Original Art The "Original Print Calendar" by Washington Area Printmakers is the group's 11th. This edition, limited to 321 calendars, includes the work of 26 artists using woodcut or linocut relief, intaglio, etching/aquatint, mezzotint, screenprint, computer/screenprint, collagraph and photographic transfer print techniques. Each print is tipped on art paper so it can be framed. Among the subjects: Trinity Church in New York, etching by Lindsay Makepeace; an interior with plaids, screenprint by Constance R. Grace; and a dancer in leotard, woodcut by Pamela Wedd Brown. Available for $100 from Washington Printmakers Gallery, 2106 R St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 .

Printmakers Sandra Fridley and Laura Seldman (who call themselves Local 1734 Gallery, though they've moved to 2412 18th St. NW Rear, 20009), in their 14th year, are showing four different prints, each including a calendar, hand-screened on 22-by-30-inch rag paper. Each print is in an edition limited to 35. The price is $50 for one print, $175 for all four.

Far Afield Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed a pioneer modern house in 1901 for a German magazine contest. This year, better late than never, the house was built in Glasgow. For those who can't afford either the house or the trip to Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art and Pomegranate Calendars have produced a calendar of Mackintosh drawings for the "House for an Art Lover."

"Der Hundertjahrig Kalender Prophezeit fur 1991" has photographs of European landscapes, with predictions from an almanac dating back to the mid-17th century. "Kings, Prophets & Judges" illustrates the passing year with 13th-century Old Hebrew illuminated manuscripts, published by W. Rurnowsky Ltd. of Tel Aviv. All the imported wall calendars are available locally from Franz Bader Bookstore, 1911 I St. NW.

Cartoon Characters Many favorite cartoon characters have 12 months all to themselves.

"Doonesbury Desk Diary" by Garry Trudeau presents a new strip assault every week, often on the White House (see the Bush bouncing-bed episode for Feb. 4-10) (Andrews and McMeel).

"Snoopy Around the World Calendar" shows figures of Snoopy and his beagle friend Belle in designer fashions against black-and-white backdrops of exotic sights (Harry N. Abrams Inc.).

"The Far Side 16-Month Wall Calendar" by Gary Larson begins with three elephants sitting in front of an open fire, roasting marshmallows on their tusks. Hurry, two of its months and 25 of its days are already over (Andrews and McMeel).

Fetching Felines The "365 Cats Calendar," a photograph a day for wall or desk, stars the 100 winners from the Fifth Annual Cat Calendar Contest and dispenses health care advice and lore you never knew about cats (Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door) (Workman Publishing).

Mimi Vang Olsen, of New York and Denmark, goes from there to everywhere painting cats in their own cat baskets, for $1,500 plus expenses. Far cheaper is her "Country Cats 1991 Calendar" portraying felines in house and field -- all staring back with hypnotic glares. The perforated back cover becomes three postcards.

The painted felines in "Martin Leman's Cat Calendar" also watch the birdie by focusing on their portraitist. (Stephen Greene Press/Pelham Books, distributed by Viking Penguin.

Flighty Fancies Or maybe the cats are watching the bird calendars that fill the air this year. "A Guide to Backyard Birds" -- a wall calendar with text by Heidi Hughes and photographs by Bates Littlehales -- gives advice on feeders, baths and nest boxes to attract specific birds plus a quotation, a photograph and an essay on each of 12 birds that fly nearby (Starwood Publishing).

"Birds of the Rain Forest" are not likely to be seen through a Washington window. All the more reason to hang a calendar picturing a sulfur-crested cockatoo -- and 11 other exotic winged creatures. The Environmental Defense Fund gives a portion of the proceeds to protect the tropical rain forests (Pomegranate Calendars).

"Duck Stamps & Prints Calendar" might help substitute for the rare and exotic collectibles with a watery and feathery image for each month. The Hugh Lauter Levin Associates Inc. calendar is distributed by Macmillan Publishing Co.

"Rare Birds of the World Calendar," illustrated by artist Norman Arlott with a text by World Wildlife Fund co-founder Guy Mountfort, has selected 12 bird species threatened with extinction from a Collins/ICPB Handbook (Stephen Greene Press).

"The Bird Identification Calendar," a teaching wall calendar also from Stephen Greene, is illustrated with drawings by John Sill and drawings of the belted kingfisher by Larry Barth, Audubon Alliance artist of the year.

Making Each Day Count The sixth "Very Special Arts Calendar" showcases the work of 14 children and adults, ages 7 to 67, chosen from 600 who have talents as well as disabilities. Each month has an artwork, along with a picture of the artist and a hopeful quotation. The days and month are marked in Braille. The calendar is sold by the Very Special Arts Education Office, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. 20566.

Political Personages "The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart," said Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel, who provides the December portrait and thought in the third "Conservative Calendar" by Michael J. Pilon. Each month has a role model (August has three) -- the test of the viewer's conservatism is to identify them -- and each day has an event: Aug. 15, Phyllis Schlafly's birthday (1924); Aug. 16, "Elvis Presley dies?" (1977). Available from The Conservative Calendar, P.O. Box 743, Church Hill, Md. 21690.

"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made," a remark attributed to Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, is the November quotation in "A Dan for All Seasons," the Official Calendar of the Quayle Quarterly. Each month juxtaposes a news photograph of Quayle with an appropriate quotation. The Quayle Quarterly, P.O. Box 8593, Brewster Station, Brigeport, Conn. 06605.

A Gallery of Calendars "A Calendar of Angels" does not answer the burning question of the medieval day -- "How many angels can stand on the head of a pin?" -- but it does capture angels caught unawares by medieval artists (Harbinger House, Tucson).

Art of the Month Club The cover of "American Art in American Museums," an appointment diary, is a year's tour through 25 art museums that shows their diversity. Included are Maxfield Parrish's oil painting "The Pirate Ship" from the Detroit Institute of Art; "Wisteria," a leaded-glass transom from the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Fla.; and a Navajo pictorial blanket, c. 1880-90, from the Indian Arts Research Center Collection, School of American Research, Santa Fe, N.M. (Abrams).

"Colors," the Museum of Modern Art's appointment calendar, displays "Horse, Rider and Clown" from "Jazz" by Henri Matisse on its cover and goes on to include varied images such as a gelatin-silver print photograph of "White Castle, Route 1" and Gerrit Rietveld's "Red and Blue Chair."

Now that at least some sectors of the globe are opening up, the "Museums of the World Engagement Calendar" is more useful than ever. It offers a visual sampler and a list of the riches of world collections -- "Nintaka and the Mala Men" from the National Gallery of Victoria; "The Artists Leda" of ivory, silver gold and turquoise by Jean-Jacques Pradier in Geneva; and a gold pendant from Abidjan on the Ivory Coast. Published by the International Council of Museums and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Distributed by Harry N. Abrams Inc.).

"The Artful Nude" calendar by Golden Turtle Press of Richmond, Calif., shows the way Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir and other masters saw the female body and -- surprise! -- the male body. The Bronzino portrait c. 1540-1550 of Andrea Doria as Neptune is especially impressive.

"American Landscapes at the Corcoran Gallery of Art," a wall calendar, shows the 19th-century view of the nation in paintings by Abbott Handerson Thayer, Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, to name a few (Starwood Publishing).

"Art does not reproduce the visible, rather it makes visible," Paul Klee is quoted in the Phillips Collection's "Klee Calendar" (Pomegranate Calendars).

"Paintings From the Collection: The Museum of Modern Art, New York 1991," a large wall calendar, includes Vincent van Gogh's "Portrait of Joseph Roulin," Edward Hopper's 1940 "Gas," Salvador Dali's "The Persistence of Memory," Pablo Picasso's 1932 "Girl Before a Mirror" and Rene Magritte's 1950 "The Empire of Light II" (Museum of Modern Art and Neues Publishing Co.).

The National Gallery of Art has produced calendars for every room and every taste. Among them: a spiral or bound engagement calendar," a menu of the collection (Universe, distributed by St. Martin's Press); "French Impressionism," another engagement calendar (Pomegranate Calendars); "The Seasons" wall calendar (Pomegranate); and "Twentieth-Century Art" wall calendar (te Neues Publishing Co.).

Abrams, as usual, publishes some of the most beautiful art calendars, notably those of works by Tiffany, Degas, Monet and Renoir. "The Polish Heritage Calendar" is of paintings from the Warsaw Museum (Hippocrene Books).

At the National Museum of Women in the Arts -- where else? -- is an assortment of calendars showing the talents of women artists: "Lilla Cabot Perry Days to Remember" appointment book (Santa Fe East), "Women Artists Engagement Book" and "Women Painters" wall calendar (Abbeville Press).

"The Jewish Calendar" of 16 months of the year 5750-51 (beginning this past September) is illustrated with dazzling objects such as the Torah ark from the 18th-century Vittorio Veneto Synagogue (Macmillan Publishing).

Planes, Trains and Boats Two calendars from the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum: "Vintage American Air Travel," a wall calendar of early airline ads (Random House), and a Workman Page-a-Day of "365 Milestones of Aviation & Other Flight Facts."

"Wooden Boats," photographed by Benjamin Mendlowitz, would make even landlubbers want to go down to the sea in ships (Noah). "Classic Sailing Yachts" spread their sails to the water and the world (Zephyr Press). "Locomotive Portraits -- Kinsey Photographer" shows the engines and the people of the steam era (Zephyr Press).

"A Century of U.S. Battleships" sails a ship a week on an engagement calendar from the U.S. Naval Institute, 2062 General's Highway, Annapolis, Md. 21401.

Legal and Literary Bet you didn't know that Thomas Quiney, William Shakespeare's grandson, was baptized on Jan. 23, 1620. Many other such vital facts, together with handsome illustrations of dogs, costumes, queens etc., compiled and edited by Judith Tabler, are all contained in "Shakespeare's World" from the Folger Shakespeare Library.

"The Law," a different sort of calendar from the Library of Congress's Law Library, chooses handsome illustrations, from the Magna Carta to a drawing of the trial of Charles I, and delicious daily bits: "June 5, 1982, Sophia Loren is released from jail after serving 17 days of a 30-day sentence for tax fraud" (Pomegranate).

Timely for Children The "New Kids on the Block Calendar" spotlights photographs of the performers at work and rest (Landmark). "The Smithsonian Family Learning Activities Science Calender" has an experiment a month, including one to make a gas to blow out birthday candles (GMG Publishing Co.). "The Eleventh Hour Calendar," from Australian artist Graeme Base's picture book, tells a mystery story (Abrams). "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." 'Nuf said (Landmark).

"My Very Own Jewish Calendar" by Judyth Groner-Madeline Wikler is a 16-month compilation of history, stories, recipes, holidays, crafts and Hebrew lessons (Kar-Ben Copies Inc.).

Environment The National Geographic Society offers "The Wonders of Nature" -- gardens, volcanoes and waterfalls in both an engagement and a wall calendar. The Nature Conservancy's calendar leads you into strange places such as the oasis of the Thousand Palms in California (Falcon Press). "The Flowers of Henry Evans" takes stylized views of 12 handsome plants (Zephyr Press).

Moving Images "Lucasfilm, Twentieth Anniversary" offers the posters from "American Graffiti" to "Willow" (Abrams). "Elizabeth Taylor," vintage photographs of the actress from young girl to sultry star, make a calendar benefiting the American Foundation for AIDS Research (Landmark). "Dick Tracy" The Movie is now The Calendar (Landmark). "Gracie Allen & George Burns" are back with their famous routines (Landmark). The "Bogart" calendar won't do a thing to encourage people to stop smoking. But it should help hat sales (Landmark). "Beauty and the Beast," the television series replaying on cable, is cheered on by Antioch Calendars.

Sports "The Major League Baseball Calendar" includes a wide look at the All-Star Game in 1989 in Anaheim Stadium (MacMillan). "Bicycling" as a way to go, both in races and alone, is urged on by a Rodale Press calendar, distributed by St. Martin's. "NFL Football" kicks again on a new calendar (Abrams). "Great New Golf Courses," with photographs by Mike Klemme, a 13-month calendar, plays through the last 10 years of new golfing spots. And "The Golf Hall of Shame," by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo, laughs all the way to the hole in one (Andrews and McMeel).

Special correspondent Dana Thomas contributed to this article.