4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Advent with Your Kids
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!
This year, Advent began on November 27. If you’re wanting to observe the traditional Advent season, I’m sharing four ways to celebrate and dive into its true meaning with your kids!
Use an Advent Devotional
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.
A few free Advent family devotions that walk you through the entire season of Advent are found here:
Advent Table Cards and Advent 2016 “Christ was Born for This” from She Reads Truth
Also check out Everyday Emmanuel from What’s in the Bible!
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.
Read an Advent Book
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 chapter book, so it might seem a little drawn out for younger children, but my older two (who were 7 and 9 last year) really enjoyed this story. We will be reading it again at bedtime during Advent! There are questions and discussion ideas included as well.
Jotham’s Journey is actually one of a series of four books! Check them all out here.
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!).
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! Here is a helpful graphic 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!
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 printable with 15 Bible verses about Advent and read one or two each week!
These verses correspond with the Advent candles and their meaning.
Find a Way to 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!"
Christmastime 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 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 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.
Have a joyous Advent and Christmas season!
“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” A voice is calling, “clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:1-5