I’m not a planner. I own a planner, try to use it, but I’m usually always forgetting something. One thing I don’t want to forget is to teach our two daughters about Christ’s coming to earth to save us from our sins, AKA the true meaning of Christmas! So, as much as we can, my husband and I try to be very intentional about Christmas and instilling a Biblical/Christ centered view of it…which requires a bit of planning. We do this by celebrating ADVENT, (which means The Coming, as in Christ’s coming to Earth).
As I write, it is December 7th. Traditionally, Advent celebrators are one week in, but it is not too late to jump on board and start this tradition with your kids.
If it’s before Christmas, it’s never too late to start Advent with your kids.
This year, our family has been celebrating Advent by being guided by an e-book called “Truth in the Tinsel.”
Here are some rules
- Doesn’t have to be every night
- Doesn’t have to be Pinterest Perfect
- Can be as involved as you want it be (From messy glitter to NO CRAFTS AT ALL.)
- Adding this tradition will be one you won’t regret
- It’s not just for Pastor’s Kids
- It’s not too late in the Christmas season to start
What does CELEBRATING ADVENT look like?
I have been seeing some great posts from my other friend moms that have using different curriculum. There are so many ways to celebrate Advent, but here are some kid tested, mom approved versions from real, busy, tired and lovely ladies.
I had my friends rank them on a Glitter Scale of 1-5, 1 being easy, little prep, 5 being involved (meaning lots of glitter, glue, clean up)
Julie, in the frozen tundra of Chicago, is using the Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones and using THIS BLOG as the corresponding ornaments. She says, “I have loved having the chance to tell the bigger story of Jesus and how the whole Bible points to him, something I didn’t understand until I was an adult…It’s created some really neat conversations and has definitely made our Advent season richer with the conversations of Jesus.”
Her Glitter Scale Rating: 3 ( a daily craft is involved)
Here’s Julie’s tree one week in.
Adventing happening in Chi-town
My friend in North Alabama, Sarah, (due with her third boy on Christmas Eve) is using Truth in the Tinsel with her 4 and 2 year old boys. It’s a downloadable eBook (available in English, Spanish, and German!) and there are crafts that you can make or printable paper ornaments. Sarah is doing the printable paper ornaments (6 pages to print them all out), mostly involving crayons, and hanging the boys ornaments on the tree each day. Her Glitter Rating: 2 (if just using the printables)
My Glitter rating involving the crafts is a 3 to 4…we used glitter on day 1 and are using a mix of printables and crafts (Crafts and shopping list are included in the e book)
Here is Sarah’s Advent Calendar:
Here’s some Adventing going on:
Day 6 for us, the two year old did the coloring, and the 4 year old did the craft:
And just for fun, we acted out a pregnant Mary visiting a pregnant Elizabeth
SENSORY OR ACTIVITY BASED
My friend Meredith, over in Texas, is doing Helping Preschoolers Unwrap the Greatest Gift based on the book by Ann Voskamp, “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.” I would call this one involved, but very fun! Meredith says, “I’m making sure I have supplies one week at a time. It’s been one trip to Hobby Lobby so far to get a few things I didn’t have and otherwise setup has been quickly pulling things out…I’m talking in the minute before we start so it hasn’t been hard at all! Maybe a 2 if a 1 is just pulling out the book to read it. I’ve enjoyed that my kids are actually asking what the activity is and that even for the 2 year old there’s something from each lesson she can start to understand because the activity connects it for her.”
Glitter Rating: 3-4 (because Prep is involved for every day, but a 2 if she skips the craft and just reads the book)
Some Adventing happening:
Meredith made this cheat sheet, so she could see everyday and not always have to visit the website:
In California, my friend Elizabeth is also using “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.” and does the Jesse Tree to go along with it. She has four girls, ages 6, almost 4, 2, and 5 months. Once you buy the book, you can download the free ornaments and have your kids color them. There are also many free printables on Pinterest for Jesse Tree Ornaments.
Elizabeth says, “The pictures are beautiful and my girls love looking through it. My 6 year old gets more out of it, but my three year old is getting some of it. She is asking me questions like, ‘what does God look like? and Where does God live?’-a good conversation starter. The two year old just wants to sit and listen.”
Glitter Rating: 1 (for just reading the book), 2 (if coloring the ornaments)
Here is the Cover of the Book:
NO CRAFTS, (SOME CANDY)!
Last year, in Lower Alabama, we used Noel Piper’s Advent Calendar. I copy and pasted the daily reading onto a word document and cut them up and put each day in a bucket with a character from the Nativity (we used the Little People Plastic Nativity). Included in the bucket was a piece of candy (often the highlight of the night). I made the advent calendar, just because I like to make stuff, but you wouldn’t need one, you could have one bucket or box that gets refilled every night. Sometimes we would sing a Christmas Carol and then read a Christmas Book and head to bed. Glitter Rating: 3 (if you have to make your own Advent Calendar). I really loved this and anticipate going back to it next year. When I unpacked the Nativity from last year, my four year old immediately remembered doing Advent, which I feel like is a pretty big win.
My friend Donette, who taught a class at church last year on Advent, read these books by Arnold Ytreeide, when her youngest son was in Kindergarten. You can find them here, here, and here. Her Family has celebrated Advent as a part of their Christmas for a long time and I think she would describe it as one her favorite and most valued traditions. Her children are grown now. Her daughter, Anna Kate, is a full time missionary in Nicaragua.
Glitter Rating: 1, no crafts involved
EASY PEASY, ALL AGES
You may have read this and come away more overwhelmed and wishing that you hadn’t clicked on the link. Or looked and thought, this is for the Pinterest moms, and this is not my style. I get it. You may have three minutes every night with your kids, be exhausted or be going through something that doesn’t allow you to do one of the above. There is also these:
You peel back one door for each day and read the verse. Some have candy in them! I had these as a kid, some had chocolate behind each day ( I obviously like Candy)
Glitter Rating: 1
ONCE A WEEK
Growing up, we lit an Advent Wreath every Sunday night and would read from the Christmas Story in the Bible. One of the highlights was being the kid that got to use the Candle Snuffer at the end of the night. Here is a whole pinterest page of Advent Candles…most of which you probably have at your house.
(both images from Amazon.com)
Glitter Rating: 1, 3 if you make your own Advent Wreath
LINKS FOR LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
Here are some versions designed for Adults.
Elizabeth Recommends: The Names of Jesus
Donette Recommends: She Reads Truth
For Dudes: He Reads Truth
I can’t see 15 years down the road to know the impact of celebrating Advent with my littles. But,there is just something about being intentional to celebrate the coming of Christ that seems so worth it!
Slowing down, sitting around the Christmas tree as often as we can, with the Bible open, and doing a craft or setting the manger scene is a good way to spend December to me.
Our kids seem to love the nightly ritual.
There is so much at Christmas that is so fun, and it is so busy, I get it. But do this, be with your kids, get a little messy and get back to the real meaning of Christmas