The season of advent is almost here, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for months!
We started really purposefully celebrating advent a few years ago with the kids, but it’s turned into such a sweet tradition that really fills my soul during a time of year that can easily feel like “too much.”
What is Advent?
Advent is defined as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event” as well as “the first season of the Christian church year leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.”
So basically, it’s the handful of weeks leading up to Christmas, when we remember, prepare for, and celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ’s birth.
When is Advent?
This year advent “officially” begins on Sunday, December 2nd and runs through December 24th (Christmas Eve) but many people choose to keep things simple and observe it December 1st-25th, which is what we typically do.
The thing I love most about being intentional in how we observe the advent season is the sense of anticipation and wonder it creates.
Our simple, daily activities as a family emphasize that something amazing is coming, and as we patiently await the arrival of Christmas morning, we get to appreciate the deeper meaning of this season in a really special way.
How to Celebrate Advent
It has been so life-giving for us to prepare our hearts and our home to celebrate the gift we’ve been given in Christ year after year, and I hope these ideas will help you do the same with your family!
Countdown to Christmas
One of the simplest places to start is to create some sort of central way of counting down the days until Christmas.
A few years ago I bought a cute little Christmas-themed chalkboard countdown that I erase and rewrite every night before bed, so when we all wake up the next day and come down the stairs we get to see that we are one more day closer to Christmas!
Another idea is to make a traditional paper chain countdown with your kiddos by cutting out 24 equal strips of construction paper and using tape to turn them into circles that are linked together.
You can hang it somewhere fun and every morning the kids can tear a link off the chain.
The Christmas Star from Afar®
This has been one of our favorite advent activities for the past few years.
My friend Natalie has created a beautiful (child-friendly) wooden nativity set that includes a special star that gets hidden by mom or dad every evening for the kids to find each morning when they wake up (just like the wise men!)
Once the star has been found, the kids move all three wise men to the star’s location, and this repeats every day until Christmas morning when the star is found on top of the stable above baby Jesus.
There’s also a beautifully illustrated Christmas story book filled with a bit of scripture to read each day after finding the star.
Andrew and I love taking turns hiding the star each night, and the kids love starting their day with a fun activity that reminds us all why we celebrate this special season every year!
Advent Reading Plan or Devotional
Every year I love to read through an advent reading plan or devotional to really take time to pause and savor this season by spending time in God’s presence.
It’s a gorgeous display set of 25 cards created by Rachael Milner with beautiful illustrations, images, verses, phrases, and a short devotion that corresponds to the date you should read each card.
Advent Calendars for the Kids
Getting those cheap little cardboard advent calendars filled with tiny chocolate pieces hiding behind closed “doors” is one of my favorite traditions from when I was a kiddo, and we’ve continued it with our babies.
It’s funny how much joy it brings to kiddos, and it’s such a simple and inexpensive way to bless them through the season! We always just find ours at a local grocery store.
24 Days of Christmas Books
This is a new tradition we’re starting this year…so really, we’ll try it, see how it goes, and then decide if we’ll continue the tradition haha ;)
The idea is to get 24 children’s books (preferably Christmas themed, but they don’t have to be) wrap them up to put under the tree, then every night before bed the kids get to open one book to read together.
To keep things simple, my plan this year is to check out all the books from our local library, wrap them up, read them, and return them when we’re done.
If the tradition sticks around I’ll likely buy special books to add to our collection (starting with places like our local thrift stores or consignment stores!)
Now it’s YOUR turn!
However you choose to celebrate the days leading up to Christmas, I hope it’s a refreshing time of joy and anticipation that brings you and your family closer together, and closer to God.
This year, let’s focus a little less on the gifts, decorations, food preparations, and special occasions, and instead fix our focus on the reason for the season: the glorious and gracious gift of a savior sent from our Heavenly Father all those years ago.