Advent for Families

Advent begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 3) and lasts through Christmas Eve. This is a time of joyful anticipation as we wait and watch for the coming of Jesus! Of course, we are counting down to the celebration of Christ's birth on Christmas Day, but we are also seeking Christ's presence in our daily lives. On Sunday mornings, November 19, 26 and Dec. 3, families may pick up an "Advent-in-a-Box" at church. These boxes contain a weekly devotional guide with all the materials you need to make a weekly ornament. Below are many more ideas that can help your family be more focused on "the reason for the season" during Advent! Find an Advent tradition that fits your family perfectly!

Ways to Countdown to Christmas

The Advent Wreath

Whether you purchase one or make your own, the Advent wreath is a simple way to countdown to Christmas. The wreath is made of evergreens symbolizing God's everlasting love and our new, everlasting life promised through Christ. Placed in the greenery are four candles representing the four weeks of Advent.  Traditionally, the candles are purple, which is the color of Advent. Some people use one pink candle for the third week. A white Christ candle can be placed in the middle of the wreath. On the first Sunday of Advent and every day for the rest of the week, only the first candle is lit. On the 2nd Sunday, the first and second candles are lit. This practice is continued throughout Advent, adding another lit candle each Sunday until Christmas, when all candles, including the white Christ candle is lit. 

A good time to light the Advent wreath is during family dinner, right after the blessing. There are many prayers, blessings and devotionals that can be used while you light the candles.  Here are three options:

The Advent Chain  

The Advent Chain is a hands-on approach for families with young children to countdown the days to Christmas. Make a simple paper chain, using one link for each day leading to Christmas. Each day, the children get to tear off one of the links until Christmas day!  To extend the activity, you can write activities or things to do on each link.  Try writing a different Bible verse to read each day, or a person to pray for, or a Christmas book to read, or a Christmas carol to learn and sing together. Some people include a daily craft or service ideas.  There are many versions online.  Here are some of my favorite:

The Jesse Tree

The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots."  It is a vehicle to connect the stories of the Old Testament to Jesus. The idea behind a Jesse tree is that each day you hang an ornament with a symbol that represents a character or a story from the Old Testament. There are many different ways to make a Jesse tree, and you can find lots of resources on the web or in books. CLICK HERE  or HERE for guides on how to make your own tree.
 

Family Service and Good Deed Ideas

Finding ways to serve together is the best way to focus children away from materialistic desires at Christmas. Below are many options that can your family share God's love during Advent:

  • Stocking for Jesus: Decorate a cheap felt stocking, label it with Jesus' name, and hang it with your family's stockings. During Advent, challenge one another to do small acts of kindness for one another and record these events on slips of paper and put them in the stocking. You can also write down things you are grateful for, or Christmas wishes for one another and the world. On Christmas morning, open Jesus' stocking first, and read all the wondeful "gifts for Jesus."
  • Reflect the Light of Jesus Christmas Tree Activity
  • Prepare a Manger for Jesus: Make a manger from popsicle sticks or a shoebox. During Advent, fill the manger with "hay" (straw, pieces of hay or even yarn) to make a nice, comfortable bed for Jesus. Pieces of hay are "earned" by doing acts of kindness. HERE is one example of how to make a popsicle manger.
  • Random Acts of Christmas Kindness: Print out these RACK'ed cards and leave them in places where you've done little acts of kindness. Click here for some random acts of kindness ideas.
     

Crafts

For those who love Christmas crafts, here are some good craft ideas:

Church Activities for Families in Advent

Click on an event to learn more.