Are you ready for the Christmas Countdown?!? In this post, I’m sharing the heart-and-soul of our Advent traditions and four of our favorite Advent resources for kids. We return to these treasures over and over again as we prepare for Christmas Day. I hope you find something here to enjoy as part of your own Advent celebration.
We celebrate Advent with our local church family
Over the years of welcoming babies into our family and keeping up with the kids as they grow, only a few Advent traditions have remained relatively unchanged. One of our traditions is to thoroughly enjoy the Advent season with our church family, attending the Advent candle-lighting and readings on Sunday mornings and singing Christmas carols together. It’s so very special.
At home, we add more and more lights each week
We light Advent candles at the dinner table and talk about what they mean. (Every year, I’ve created make-shift Advent wreaths and candle arrangements, but this year – THIS WONDERFUL YEAR – I purchased an actual Advent candle set for our table. I feel all grown up and I’m very excited to use it!)
We also add lots of light to our house. Each Sunday afternoon of Advent, we add more and more Christmas lights. To celebrate the first Sunday of Advent, we light a giant star on the side of our barn. We hope people passing by can look at our star and remember God’s perfect light, Jesus.
The star reminds us, too, as it lights our way home whenever we’ve been out and about on a winter’s evening. As we drive down the lane, we sing the chorus of “We Three Kings” with a ton of gusto. Actually, the opening “Oh-oh…” begins long before we turn onto our lane and is sustained (like this: “ohhhhhhhhhOHHHHHHH….”) until we turn onto the lane and start rumbling over the driveway gravel. Then we enthusiastically launch into the carol:
Star of wonder Star of light Star with royal beauty bright Westward leading Still proceeding Guide us to thy perfect light!
On the following three Advent Sundays, we add twinkle lights to the kids’ rooms, the front porch, and the staircase, adding to the joy and excitement of the Christmas season. As we add the lights I think about Jesus, the light of the world.
We enjoy a book or resource like one of these:
We choose an Advent book or resource that suits the kids’ stages and our current circumstances. Here are some of our favorites:
We Wonder is a daily podcast of contemplative Bible reading for kids and grown ups. It is robust, thoughtful, and wonderfully Christ-centered. Last year, we tuned in for the Advent season and have been listening as a family ever since. We’re counting down the days to the next Advent season.
How do we listen as a family? It’s not always picture perfect, but we’ve been more successful since giving each child a large-print NIrV Bible and a Bible gel highlighter to mark the words or phrases they want to remember. Ryan and I help the little ones to follow along. And even our almost-2-year-old does a little “highlighting” of her own. We share one or two thoughts with one another afterward. And then? Everyone who was reasonably quiet gets a peanut M&M! 😉
Truth in the Tinsel is an adorable, hands-on, sensory, memorable advent experience for ANY kids, but I tend to use it when my kids are three – six years old. (I’ll be using it this year for my four and six year-olds.) We’ve never been able to make all of the ornaments or do all of the lessons, but we always enjoy the lessons and crafts we are able to do! My older kids still cherish the Truth in the Tinsel ornaments they made (too) many years ago and find a special place for them on our Christmas Tree.
Each book in the Jotham’s Journey Christmas Series takes you through the Advent season with a chapter each night. These stories are riveting! I recommend them for older kids, maybe ages seven and up? They are intense, but so so good. (We launch into one of these books in seasons when I’ll have time and energy to read the sometimes-lengthy chapters each night.) We’ve read all of them over the years and highly recommend them to you!
We are big fans of Adventures in Odyssey. This Advent Collection album is fun EVERY year, but it’s particularly helpful during Advent seasons when I’m unable to prepare crafts or read to the kids for lengths of time (i.e. The kids listened to this album the year I had a baby on December 5th. I wasn’t able to do much hands-on Advent-ing that year!) Although the episodes aren’t all Bible stories, they do focus on Christ and Christmas in wonderful, creative, memorable ways.