Advent Traditions for Kids
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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 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 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.
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 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.
Do YOU have any favorite Advent Traditions for Kids?
Originally published November 25, 2014. Updated November 25, 2017.
Over the years I have noticed that the more I deep into Advent personally the better our family Advent goes. Yes our family has a few traditions; present giving, Advent Wreath, movie watching, decorating, felt crèche scene but all of that becomes a chore if I’m not spending some alone time with Jesus. When our kids were younger if was harder to find that time but now that our youngest is eight I can make time for Jesus every day and that seems to make our whole Advent season more fun and focused on the real reason for the season😊
Amen. what a gift you’re giving your children!
We do the Book Countdown at our house too. We started when our oldest was 2 and most of the books were from the library, but we’ve added one every year and of course family members gift books and they’re added as well. We currently have only one that I get from the library, because it’s a favorite and I can’t find it in print. Our kids are now 16, 12 and 10 and the board books that we have had since day one are just as exciting to them as finding the new book in the stack. I add a tag to each book that has a question on it, everything from “What’s your favorite Christmas movie” to “How was someone kind to you today” and “What happened in your day that showed the true meaning of Christmas”, that create a discussion before we read.
I’d love to know what some of your favorites are. I’m trying to get this started for my family this year and feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options. Thanks!
I’ve got a short list here: https://lifeasmom.com/christmas-storybooks/ The longer list is in A Simpler Season. 🙂
Love it that you’ve added some discussion questions!
I’m so honored you included our tradition in this list! I am adding this post to my Weekend Reads this week!
I’m wanting to try Truth in Tinsel for our school time. We have fun traditions too. But I’m working on slowing down and enjoying them, being intentional, prayerful, and restful. Not planning the next thing.
How did it go?
Love this Jessica. The times I’ve tried to replicate someone else’s “great plan” have been strained and flat. But to find a little here and there and put together what is true and brings a sparkle of excitement or quiet engagement, that is the best!
Yep and yep. May Christmas be all that and more for you this year!