Monday, October 31, 2011

How to teach your kids the real meaning of Christmas - Advent. 31 Days of Christmas Wonder (day 29)

When our girls were little, we did a lot of life together with my friend, Kae, and her kids. Kae taught me about Advent. Growing up overseas, it was not a part of my Christmas experience.

Kae's dad was a Lutheran pastor in the Midwest, so it was a big part of her Christmas season. I picked Kae's brains for hours, to help me decide how our family would celebrate Advent. Advent calendars, Advent candles, Advent devotionals . . . so many decisions.

Remember, my thoughts on ideas. Sometimes, you take the ideas just as you hear it. Other times, you adapt them. And sometimes, you do not do them at all.

I took all the great information from Kae and adapted it to meet my desires for our little family. Here what I ended up with.

1. Advent calendars. If the girls got one as a gift, they put it on their bedroom door and opened a window every morning. But I wasn't involved in it.

2. Advent candles. We wanted the lighting of candles to be a part of our celebration. But, (I am a little goofy.)  I do not like the traditional Advent candle, where you light one each week and they are all different heights. (See, I told you.)

Instead, we had two pillars candles that we lit. This way, both girls got to light and snuff a candle. (No fighting over whose turn it was.)

3. Advent devotions. I was looking for something very simple, that took no preparation. And I wanted something we could do each night. Focus on the Family had the perfect book for our family. (Family celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and special Occasions by Ann Hibbard.)

It came with the pattern for a cool felt banner with a Christmas tree, and a felt ornament to add each night to represent what we were studying. So fun. Once that was made, we did this year after year . . . with no preparation.

Our family loved reading the same Scripture passages, memorizing the same verses and saying the same prayers . . . year after year. We also used her book for our Thanksgiving and our Easter celebrations. Each one had a banner. I. loved. doing. this. When we had company for dinner, we just included them.

I have heard great things about the Jesse Tree Advent devotion, too. You can get a free download of this from Ann Voskamp. (I got to hear Ann speak last week and talk with her afterwards. She is really amazing.Thanks, Shelly.)

How does your family celebrate Advent?


  1. I have great memories of the advent candles all different sizes with devotions. Our girls loved it!

  2. We have a set of adornaments ornaments with names of God to read one each night and put on the tree.

  3. You must have heard Ann at Wheaton College, because she was there just before she spoke at the Relevant Conference. I got a few moments with her; isn't she amazing?

    I didn't grow up celebrating Advent. Now that I am older, with my son grown I have often wished that we (my own family) had done something more to celebrate it.

  4. Glenda, we didn't celebrate Advent and still don't. I just surround us with lots of Nativity sets and, on Christmas Eve, read Luke, chapter 2, but only that part dealing with Christ's birth. XM Radio Christmas music station is playing from Thanksgiving until whenever it ends... I think maybe the day after Christmas...? Not really sure.
    Anyway, Advent and Lent wasn't a part of our growing up. Daddy always said, and still says, "if we're living the way we're supposed to be living every day of the year, there's no need for New Year's resolution's, Lent, etc."
    You think that's where I get my smidgen of irreverence?

  5. We have used a book called Advent Foretold for many years. Looking forward to getting it out this Christmas. It's been over my little guys' heads before now, but I think they're ready this year. Works best from ages 6 or 7 up. It comes with instructions to make a banner (which I've never done...maybe with these two??)

  6. I really do like your Christmas ideas, lovely. I'm going to have to search out this book. We don't really do much for advent - apart from preparing for the big day...but I would ike to.


  7. I found it on Amazon!! And now I will await it's arrival!

    Thank you!


  8. I love the candle idea, as
    I'm a candle person. We
    had one of those fabric
    advent calendars with the
    pockets that each have a
    little stuffed ornament that
    you take out and velcro on
    to a Christmas tree at the
    top of the calendar. By the
    25th, the whole tree is filled
    with ornaments. We also have
    our nativity set, with Baby Jesus
    coming out on the 24th : )
    Lovely suggestions, all!
    xx Suzanne

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