In our house, Christmas is a big deal. Decorations everywhere. Countdowns to the big day. Lots of excitement.
We’ve always stressed that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, even though we also have fun with Santa and elves and other holiday festivities. But this year, we wanted to do even more to stress the real meaning of the season.
This year, we’re going to celebrate Advent.
While Advent calendars have been a part of Christmas for me since I was a child (the kind with 24 doors and a piece of chocolate behind each door), the celebration of the coming Christ always was, too.
We want to get excited about Christmas. We want our kids to be excited–but we want that excitement to build for the right reasons, fun included.
For some reason, our church no longer stresses Advent. There used to be the traditional candles, readings, and scriptures on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, but that tradition stopped for some reason a few years ago.
(**I’m please to say that since this post went up, our church brought back Advent!! What a beautiful ceremony filled with so much meaning, hope, and joy. So glad we can enjoy it as a church family.)
I want to bring it back, if only in my own home. So Advent is becoming a new family tradition.
If you’d like to celebrate Advent in your family, here are some great ideas.
The word Advent is a derivative of the Latin “coming,” focusing on the coming birth of the Christ. Traditionally, the season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. (For 2012, Advent begins Sunday, December 2.)
To celebrate Advent, you can focus only on the four Sundays of the season, or you can incorporate a daily reminder of the coming Christ child.
In our house, we’re going to do a daily reminder, and light the candles on the Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Here’s what you need to celebrate Advent:
Candles– traditionally 2 pink, 2 purple, 1 white.
An Advent candle holder (Advent ring).
Scriptures to use during the celebration.
**I purchased my Advent ring and candles at Hobby Lobby. The ring was $9.99, the candles $4.99, with 50% off of each. I had some extra garland at home, so I wrapped it around the ring to make it a little more festive.
You don’t have to use an Advent ring or pink and purple candles. Advent is about the preparation of the heart, so any candles will do.
Scriptures: I found a great site that helped me with the scriptures and focus for the lighting of the candles each Sunday.
For daily focus, I found these great printable verses.
Extra Advent Fun
11 Frugal Advent Activities & Free Printables
Free Advent Coloring Pages for Kids– Printables
Celebrating Advent: Lighting the Candles
Free Advent Jesse Tree Book from Ann Voskamp
Thriving Family’s Free Advent Activity Calendar
This SUPER amazing list of all kinds of Christmas FREEBIES compiled by The Better Mom
I pray that your family will receive joy and blessings as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior!
Share with me: Are you adding any new holiday traditions this year? Do you have any other ideas on celebrating Advent?
11 responses to “Ideas For Celebrating Advent With Your Kids”
As a pastor’s wife, Advent is a big deal (as is Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday) and as we are Methodist, we take traditions fairly seriously. My husband celebrates at the church with the special readings, lighting of the advent wreath candles (we use a ring with 3 purple, 1 pink, and 1 white – Christ candle), and a series of sermons leading up to the coming birth of Christ. His sermon focus last year was how much the characters in the story had to “give up” in order to participate in the story. My heart always bleeds a little when I realize how much Mary, Joseph, and the others sacrificed and how little I do. This year (unless the plan has changed) my husband will be talking about the characters in the Bible that are the villans of the Christmas story – except for the 4th week which will be about Jesus because he can’t go an advent season and not devote one to Christ. We will talk about, read about, and sing about the central theme of each week: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. At home, my husband and I will do daily “advent devotions” together and enjoy the quiet time of anticipation together.
When growing up we didn’t celebrate advent, but I remember doing daily advent readings with my mom when I was in my last few years of high school.
Without remembering why we celebrate, the celebration of Christmas just doesn’t have the same feelings.
(Sorry about my book – clearly I am in doc writing mode!)
Thanks for sharing, Lori! I miss the tradition of the focus on Advent that I learned when my family attended Methodist churches when I was young. I’m glad your hubby puts such a focus on it. I think that’s great!
I’ve never celebrated Advent before. It sounds like you’ve got some fun activities planned!
A bit off topic, but since you mentioned it above…how do you incorporate Santa? I know it can be a touchy subject, but I’m curious, because I grew up believing in Santa and my husband didn’t. When we have kids, I’d like to have fun with the Santa stuff but not make it the focus. Is there a way to do that? I’d love your thoughts on what you tell your kids about Santa, etc. 🙂
The whole Santa thing is definitely a touchy subject with some (I blogged about it last year and was pretty much shocked at some of the responses I got!) but not at our house. We love Santa. We always have. A few years ago we started the Elf on the Shelf tradition, so we have an elf that visits from the North Pole, too.
Here’s what we tell our kiddos– Santa brings us gifts because he’s celebrating the birth of Christ, just like we are. Since we can’t give a physical present to Jesus right now, we give love by doing kind things for others and by giving gifts. Santa’s presents are a celebration of God’s love to the world–and the ones he brings to us remind us of the greatest Present of all. We look forward to Santa coming, but the ONLY reason he can come is because we’re celebrating the best birthday of all.
I’ll tell you that I don’t care how old your kid is or what you do or don’t tell them or even whether or not you do Santa, the excitement of presents on Christmas morning is ALWAYS going to be a big deal. I see nothing wrong with that as long as they understand what’s behind the big deal.
Also, let me say that I wasn’t scarred for life, nor did it affect my relationship with Christ because I grew up believing in Santa.
Santa is one of the funnest things you get to do as a parent, and there’s nothing wrong with a little parenting magic. 🙂
Just my opinion, of course. 🙂
And I’m not sure “funnest” is a word, but whatever. 🙂
I wasn’t scarred for life either. 😉 Thanks for your thoughts. I really like what you said. It makes total sense to me!
We are Episcopalian so we definitely celebrate Advent! Love your ideas.
Heather– my dad is Episcopalian, my mom Baptist, so their compromise was to attend Methodist churches together for most of my growing up years. I’m familiar with the Advent traditions and I am so excited about bringing them into our home!
Oh, we’ve done Advent almost every year. I love the candles and the little book we have to go along with it. But other than that, we are traditionless. 😉
I think the Advent tradition counts for a lot!! 🙂
We have observed Advent for decades. We light the candles every night at dinner, actually. In the past we would let the kids take turns suggesting a worship song or hymn to sing together, and we always had readings that they would do as soon as they could. We use 3 purple, with 1 pink for “Laudatum” on the third Sunday, a day of joy in the midst of a reflective season. Some traditions are now using a sort of midnight blue for Advent, to distinguish the liturgical color from the more solemn Lent.