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6 Ways to Celebrate Advent with Kids

how to celebrate advent with kids - smart ideas from a mom and educator

Advent began this week for Christians around the world, but do you really know what Advent is?

Advent is the season of waiting for Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it ends of Christmas Eve. Many people simplify by celebrating Advent from December 1 to 24.

No matter when you observe Advent, it is a time of happiness, celebration, and hopeful anticipation of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let's not pretend that our kids (and maybe us) look forward to the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Most of us give presents to our kids, friends, and family, and that night and morning are so very special.

The month of waiting leading up to that?

It's hard. Nobody likes to wait. I hate waiting. My kids hate waiting. Waiting stinks.

Celebrating Advent as its own holiday, a special event all its own, makes the waiting for Christmas to come a little easier. The days pass more quickly.

And, best of all, we talk about Jesus all month long, so when the excited whirlwind of Santa and his elves blows through, I don't worry about new toys and old legends. My kids know the Reason for the Season.

If you've spent a month looking forward to and celebrating His birth, He is in the back of your mind, even as you rip the paper of the brand new amazing whizbanger you've been dying to have all year long.

So, enough talking about why you should be celebrating Advent. Here's how we do it at my house:

  1. We use an Advent wreath every night at dinner. It's a simple circle of candles – three purple and one pink, with a large white candle in the center – and we light the candles in a certain order as the month goes by. On Christmas Eve, we light all four of the colored candles as well as the white candle (representing Jesus). My mom always said you're supposed to let the white candle burn all night long, but I'm too paranoid of fire to do that.
  2. We make a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is my very favorite Advent tradition. Essentially, it's a tree (which can be a tabletop tree {what we use}, a large tree, a poster of a tree, or a tree cut out of construction paper), and you put a new ornament on each day. The ornaments begin with God creating the world on the first day, Adam and Eve on the second, the fall on the third, and they continue through Noah, Isaac, Abraham, Joseph, King David, Esther, and many others. By the end, you have traced most of the major figures in the lineage of Jesus as it is described in the New Testament. It's a wonderful trip through the Old Testament, through stories familiar and unfamiliar. This will be our sixth year using the Jesse Tree, and I created a printable Jesse Tree devotional four years ago that we still use. It includes 28 days (that's the longest Advent can be), and each day includes a passage from the Bible, a story, a song about the main character, and a prayer. It's appropriate for preschoolers up through big kids. It's free to download from the link above.
  3. We create a daily craft from Truth in the Tinsel. This little e-book is full of meaningful craft projects, one per day during Advent. Rather than duplicating the Jesse Tree, it is a children's study of the Christmas story, beginning when the angel told Mary she would have a child and ending with the birth of Jesus. It's really great (printable color pages are also available if you need a quicker than a craft option).
  4. We have a commercial Advent Calendar. It's a bear in a Christmas tree that you put ornaments on to count down the days.
  5. We color Advent pictures. We've used the same two coloring pages since my daughter, Grace, was three, and they never get old. It's almost like color by number except that you color one part each day until Christmas.
  6. Read a special Advent book every night. Reading to your kids (especially at bedtime) is such a special habit to start with, but reading a book specifically about Jesus brings the whole Advent thing full circle. Some families gift wrap 25 books at the beginning of the month, but we aren't that planned. I let the kids pick the book that they want to read. Among our favorites are The Story of Christmas, Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You're Never Too Little for His Love, and The Pine Tree Parable (my personal favorite!). We also really like Who is Coming to Our House?, Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale, God Gave Us Christmas, J Is for Jesus: The Sweetest Story Ever Told, and Humphrey's First Christmas. There are really a plethora of Jesus-based Christmas books out there if you look hard enough.

To be honest, we don't always get to every one of these things every day. A family dinner with the Advent wreath and Jesse tree are our first priority. Sometimes, we have to do several coloring sections at a time or we miss a day of reading

The key to observing Advent isn't doing every possible activity every day.

The key to observing Advent is celebrating the coming birth of Jesus, celebrating a God that has so much love for us that He sent His Son as a humble human baby, born in a stable.

If you make it fun and interesting and you make it about Jesus, you can't go wrong.

How do you celebrate Advent at your house?

© 2014 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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