When I search the internet or check out Pinterest and see ideas for celebrating Advent, they often involve a “minifigure set” creating a holiday scene or cute craft activities for the month of December.
And certainly, those are all fun things that can add to the joy of the season! But truly, Advent is more than just the 24 days before Christmas!
For hundreds of years, beginning four Sundays before Christmas and through Christmas Eve, Christians have celebrated Advent as a way to prepare our hearts for the coming (advent) of Jesus Christ as a baby!
It is a time of reflection on His first arrival in a manger and also a time to anticipate His second coming!
Because Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas, the first day of Advent always falls on a different date. For 2020, it’s actually November 29! But some of the other dates in recent years have been November 27, December 2 and November 29.
Want to celebrate the Advent season in a more traditional way? Here are five ways to dive into the true meaning of Advent with your kids!
How to Celebrate a Traditional Advent Season
1) Find an Advent Devotional that Really Talks about Advent
A traditional Advent devotional will talk about Scripture passages from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament that foretell the coming of Christ through prophecy leading up to His birth in Bethlehem in some way, shape or form.
It may also use the liturgical Advent dates or at the least have four weeks of devotions, as opposed to just December 1-25. However, as long as it talks about the real meaning of Advent, any devotional is a great choice for your family!
A few Advent family devotions that walk you through the entire season of Advent are found here:
Comfort and Joy: An Advent Study for Families – I created this 28 day Advent experience last year and it has been the most popular item in our store!
Advent “Until the Son of God Appears” from She Reads Truth (for women)
Truth in the Tinsel is also one of our favorite Bible based family resource with 24 ornaments that you can make and a devotional for each day. This does start December 1, but also highlights much of the prophecy surrounding Jesus birth, as well as the characters that are a part of the Advent and Christmas story.
Advent Family Devotions for Kids 3-10
Advent Calendar (Hanging Banner) with Daily Advent Bible Verses
2) Read a Book About Advent to Your Kids
All four of our kids love to read, and reading aloud is a way that we connect as a family at the end of a busy day.
What about doing a nightly reading of a book that helps your kids understand the Advent story and how it personally relates to us even today?
Jotham’s Journey, by Arnold Ytreeide, which we read for the first time last year, follows the story of a ten-year-old boy named Jotham as he searches for his family, encountering wise men, shepherds, and other key people in the Christmas story before he finally finds the Savior when he arrives in Bethlehem.
This book is a long chapter book, and it has some very dramatic content, so I would only recommend for ages 8 and up.
My two older kids (9 and 12) really enjoyed this book. There are questions and discussion ideas included as well.
**Again, I’d highly recommend reading this series of books once your kids are older–they’re pretty intense for young kids!!
We will be reading one of the companion books, Tabitha’s Travels, at bedtime during Advent this year!
Jotham’s Journey is actually one of a series of four books, each from a different perspective! Check them all out here.
Advent Books for Young Children
For younger children, check out Song of the Stars, which builds the anticipation to Jesus’ birth throughout the story!
Other great Advent and Christmas stories for young children include
- The Crippled Lamb,
- Room for a Little One, and
- Tonight You Are My Baby (which always makes me cry!)
You can find the list of ALL my recommended kids books for Advent and Christmas over on Amazon (click here to find a new favorite)!
3) Talk About the History of Advent and Make an Advent Wreath
To truly understand the “why” behind celebrating Advent (and why it goes beyond December), take a few minutes to read about the history of Advent with your family!
Below is a helpful infographic (pin it for later!) that can help you understand what the candles of the Advent wreath mean and how they are used.
Many Christian bookstores sell pre-made Advent wreaths with candles. If you don’t want to use candles around very young children, you can make a paper version of the Advent wreath!
Advent Wreath Recommendations:
- Dayspring has some beautiful Advent wreaths (this is the one we have) that you can choose for a family heirloom!
- Here is another idea for an Advent wreath.
- Try this simple Advent wreath with flameless candles
Below you can see our Advent wreath with our free printable Advent banner pictured too!
I also love these “stained glass” Advent candle window decorations—we will be making these with our kids (ages 3, 5, 8 and 10) this year!
You can download a free Advent calendar banner with Bible verses about Advent and read one each day! These verses correspond with the Advent candles and their meaning.
4) Listen to Christmas Music and Quiet Your Heart
The Advent season goes by very quickly, and usually is full of a lot of activity!
This year, we have two Christmas programs, a church pageant, two school Christmas parties, four church events and several family gatherings–all to fit in during the month of December! I’m sure you can relate.
Is there even an opportunity, then, to really quiet our hearts before God and meditate on the Advent message?
One thing I have done for myself in the past that’s been effective is to set aside two evenings during the month of December to put the kids to bed early (they’re really tired from all the running around anyway!), light some candles and turn on the Christmas tree and then drink some tea or hot chocolate while listening to holiday carols.
We use Pandora or Amazon Music to do so, as well as some CDs (I’m sure I sound like an old person, still listening to CDs–ha!!). My husband and I just sit on the couch–with NO television or other media devices in our laps.
If I want to help my kids just calm down at the end of a busy day, I will play Christmas music on the piano and we’ll sing together. This is something I always did with my grandparents and cousins growing up and want to continue the tradition with our family.
During the rush, you really do have to be intentional about carving out quiet moments–but it’s so worth it!
5) Share the Message of Jesus Christ’s First and Second Coming in your Community
Romans 10:15 says, “And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Christmas-time is a natural time of year to share the gospel with others in your community. Especially during tumultuous times, the gospel of peace through Christ is sweet to the soul. This sharing can happen through activities at church, community service opportunities and music heard even on secular stations that invites conversation about Jesus’ coming as a baby.
Opportunities that may not come as easily during other times of the year to share about Jesus find their place in the Advent season, which is one of the things I love about it!
Our kids have enjoyed bringing gifts to families staying at a local mission, packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child, inviting friends to their Christmas program at church and ringing the bell with the Salvation Army.
We’ve also written notes to loved ones who are lonely and sent them drawings of Christmas scenes, reminding them that God loves them and we do too! We hope to be even more intentional as our children get older!
With young children it can be hard to make time for these things or even figure out what they are capable of, which I completely understand!
I’d encourage you to pick even just ONE thing that you can do as a family to show (and share!) the love of Jesus during Advent and Christmas.
When we celebrate Advent with our families, we are reminded once again of the necessity of Jesus’ coming, to save us from our sinful nature and be the perfect One we could not be, restoring us to God.
Would you like to celebrate Advent with your family in a meaningful way, and point your children to Christ, even if you don’t have a lot of extra time each day during this busy season?
I’m so excited to introduce Comfort and Joy: An Advent Study for Families! It is a BRAND NEW resource I created with busy families in mind, to help you focus on Jesus and have FUN together during Advent!
Comfort and Joy: An Advent Study for Families is a 28 day Christ-focused experience designed for busy families that want to make memories even during this crazy season of the year!
- To connect the truths of Jesus’ birth with our lives today, showing our kids that Scripture is always relevant, useful and life-changing.
- To help our kids personalize the story of Jesus’ birth.
- To help us understand why Advent can prepare our hearts for Christmas and that it’s more than just a “countdown to December 25th”.
- To give your family opportunities make memories and create traditions.
- To provide a rich Advent celebration, even on the busiest days!
- To be flexible, so you can do different activities each year!
4 Weeks of Study: Each week of the short Bible lessons corresponds to the different “themes” of Advent candles in the Advent wreath: Prophecy, Bethlehem, Shepherds and Angels.
There are daily Advent verses to read with your family, as well as a devotional, reflection and/or activity for each of 28 days. You’ll also be singing Advent/Christmas carols together!
Printable resources: Gift tags, Christmas cards, Jesse Tree Ornaments, Coloring pages, Advent calendar banner
Recommended Ages: 3-12. But honestly, families with kids who are older too can enjoy this study!
Types of Activities Included:
- DIY Ornaments (variations for older and younger children)
- Weekly “Prepare for Christmas” idea for your home
- Recipes that correspond with the weekly theme
- Weekly simple service project idea to help your family share the love of Jesus
- Family connection ideas so you can make memories in this busy time of year!
- Crafts that encourage creativity (without being complicated!)
If you want to cut through the busyness, capture the joy of the Advent season with your family, point your kids to Jesus and have fun at the same time, Comfort and Joy: An Advent Study for Families was made for you!
Click HERE or the button above to learn more!
Have a joyous Advent and Christmas season!
1 Comment on Advent Ideas for Families
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Hey Jenn! One of the best things I love to do is reading aloud with kids before bedtime. I’d like to check on the advent books, I’m thinking of Tabitha’s Travels. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!