Advent is an excellent time to share with your kids the joy there is in Christ and how very much we need Him. Check out these fun Advent traditions for kids and count down the days until Christmas.
In my adult life I don’t know that I paid much attention to holiday traditions until I had children of my own. Okay, that first Christmas when FishBoy was only 6 months old, that was a “bye” year. He didn’t know what we were doing and neither did we. Our parental responsibility got to sit out the game that year.
Once he became a toddler and started engaging in the language, I knew we needed to do something special for Christmas. I knew it was our opportunity as well as our responsibility to pass on our faith traditions to our son as well as to explain their significance. I so much wanted to “do it right.”
Advent was rough for a few years. I was a young mom getting my bearings in this thing called parenting. I knew what I had grown up with as a child. I knew what I believed about God and myself. My social circle included other Christians who had very specific ideas of what family devotions looked like.
Ours didn’t look like theirs.
I tried for several years to rally my family to the devotional life I saw modeled around me. Some things clicked and worked really well for us. Other things felt forced and faked. I worried that what we established in 1998 needed to stick for the rest of our lives. I think I fretted over it way too much.
For me with lots of little ones under foot, the Advent wreath tradition just didn’t jive. I dismissed it almost immediately.
With lots of little ones and massive clutter in my house, having a Jesse Tree and a regular Christmas tree was just too much to manage. We combined the two and simply added a new Jesse Tree ornament to our Christmas tree every day.
The kids and I do continue to do this as part of our morning meetings in December. Due to his work schedule, my husband misses out. It’s not that he wants to miss out, but this rhythm just works better for our family. If we don’t do it in the morning on a school day, it really won’t happen.
Some years we read through a devotional, tear paper links off a countdown chain, or do one family fun thing each day. But, usually we roll with the reading. It’s what I’m good at and what my kids enjoy.
I’ve learned over these last 18 Christmases as a mom, that you gotta go with what works. You need to find what suits your family in this season and remember that that might change from year to year.
Don’t heap guilt on yourself that you don’t do a daily Christmas countdown or light a candle every week or commit a good deed every day in December.
Pinterest didn’t invent mom guilt, but, man, it sure does keep it alive.
The “reason for the season” is to rejoice that God became flesh and dwelt among us.
That’s what we come back to. That’s where our focus should be. What would my to-do list look like if I only put on the things that God wanted me to do?
Advent Traditions for Kids
Advent observations can play a very wonderful part in that. They can be the breathe of fresh air in a busy season. They can be the thing that keeps our hearts focused on God and why He sent His Son as a small babe in the manger. Advent can be a wonderful thing.
I asked a few friends what their traditions were. Some overlap, some are really different. Hopefully, they will inspire you to craft an Advent tradition that works well for your family in this season. Be sure to click on the link as I’m only sharing excerpts from their posts.
from Kelly of Faithful Provisions, 20 Ways to Celebrate Advent:
I’m passing along this list of ideas for 20 ways to celebrate Advent season…. I encourage you to just pick a few things to do that you think your family would enjoy most. Please be careful how you handle traditions–they can become a burden rather than a blessing if you do not include a certain degree of flexibility, especially as your family grows and changes through the years.
from Amy of the Finer Things in Life, The Real Deal:
I enjoy a good deal as much as anyone, and truly need to snag bargains in order to give on our limited budget. When I find something for a steal that someone will love (even if that someone is me!) you can bet I get it while the gettin’s good. There is nothing wrong with the thrill of the deal at Christmastime.
But that’s not The Real Deal.
from Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom, What Our Children Are Teaching Us About Being Givers:
We’ve sought to model giving before our children, encouraging them from a young age to earn money so they can pay cash for things they want, as well as have money to give to our local church, to those in need, and to bless others with gifts.
We weren’t sure if all of our teaching was really sinking in until last year when we were blown away when our then six-year-old daughter….
from Mandi of Life Your Way, A Traditional Advent Kit:
A couple weeks ago, the Genda family shared their family’s advent wreath tradition, and I was really intrigued as they described how they celebrate the first season of the Christian calendar on each of the four Sundays before Christmas, lighting candles, reading the Christmas story and a devotional, sharing a meal, giving little gifts to one another and really focusing on the season of advent.
The girls were excited about the tradition as well, and that weekend we headed to Hobby Lobby to put together our own traditional advent kit!
from Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy, A Very Bookish Christmas Countdown:
We do books around here. Our whole family loves to do read. Stories are already built into our family’s rhythm. So each year, we wrap a gigantic pile of Christmas and winter-themed books (most of which we already own) and stack them by the fireplace. Beginning December 1, we’ll unwrap one every night, until Christmas Day.
from Erin of The Humbled Homemaker, Decorating with Nativities from Around the World:
One of my favorite childhood memories from the Christmas season is playing with my parents’ nativity set. Sure, often Fisher Price Little People or the occasional Strawberry Shortcake figurine or Barbie might have ended up being part of the Christmas story.
But I absolutely loved it–and I believe it helped instill in me the true meaning of Christmas from a very early age.
from Jen of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, A Jesse Tree with Handmade Ornaments:
Culturally, we put so much emphasis on Christmas day, but forget to prepare our hearts and focus on the “reason for the season.” Our family begins the Jesse Tree tradition on December. 1 by placing the first symbol on the tree, and then we carve out a few family moments every day through Dec. 25.
Do YOU have any favorite Advent Traditions for Kids?
Originally published November 25, 2014. Updated November 17, 2016.