Finding ideas for Advent that are not just slapped with “Happy Birthday, Jesus” stickers is difficult. But I love Advent for just this reason—it takes searching, planning, and preparation! There is some very meaningful Advent ideas out there!
I want my kids to feel the anticipation all month long that something amazing is coming on Christmas — God became a human! A baby! Unheard of! This is also why I look for activities that tell God’s story leading up to Him as a human baby. Kid’s (and adults) think in story lines — Chronologically. So at Christmas, well, He’s just been born! And if I want to tell the linear story of Jesus, why not use the events that naturally occur on my calendar to do it! His birth at Christmas leads beautifully into a season of learning about His life on this earth, preparing our minds for the climax of the Christian calendar, the Passion Week — Christ’s death and Resurrection. But that’s getting ahead (a peek at my next project perhaps?).
We’ve tried a lot of things to prepare for Jesus’ birthday. May I help you by sharing a few of our favorites? There is still time to hit Amazon’s 2 day shipping or download a pdf to print or ebook to read.
My children are 7 and almost 9. You can read more about my family’s Advent in this article but briefly, these are our current traditions:
- A countdown to Jesus’ Birthday — Jesus’ Unexpected Family Tree. An Advent activity that a friend and I wrote about Jesus’ family tree and the God who picked those humans we trace all the way up to His birth. There is an ornament to hang up for each day of December. The PDF to download is $4
- Advent candles that are lit the 4 Sunday nights before Christmas. We turn off the lights and do a reading after lighting the candles. Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski is my go to now. This is a fantastic, gospel-centered resource for Advent. One year, we read just the story, and the next year we did some of the devotions. This book will be a reference every year even if we don’t use every word.
- O Come, O Come Emanuel is a perfect song to end our candle reading on Sunday, right before we blow out the candles.
Advent Activities we have used in the past and loved:
- When the kids were younger, we used What God Wants for Christmas on the Advent Sunday nights with lighting our candles. It’s a durable Nativity activity for young kids who love hiding and seeking.
- Jesus Story Book Bible is a favorite of ours. We have used their Advent reading plan for every day leading up to Christmas Day. The plan is here.
- John Piper’s Advent readings are deep but very good and his family is the first one I read about that did candles at Advent. Those stories are on desiringgod.org
- Russ Ramsey wrote an incredible Advent book that my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed together last year called Behold the Lamb. (He also has a book for Lent now too!) This is in Kindle form as well.
Some other Advent ideas I’ve looked into:
- There is an Advent resource from TheDailyGraceCo.com that is also a PDF you can download. A group of women are talking through it in a group on FB this year called Lamp and Light. I appreciate this company’s focus on falling in love with Christ and the owner is a fellow church planter family that we’ve gotten to know.
- Marty Machowski also has an invaluable resource called The Ology. This book has story like explanations for all the doctrines of the Christian faith. But for Advent, the chapters leading up to His humanity would take children to the actual birth of Christ. If you are only picking 5 for the 5 Sundays of Advent, these chapters would be good choices: 1, 16, 17, 27, 28. If you wanted to read a story each day of Advent before Christmas, there are 27 stories before the Christmas one, so you could start a few days before December 1st to read all of them or combine a story or two and you’ll end up teaching the theology of God, People, Sin, the Promise and the Law all before Christmas! Wow! And after Christmas you can start working through the theology of Christ leading up to Easter!
- FamilyLife has a collection of beautiful and meaningful decor and activities for all the Holidays. They have several ornament sets with readings that would be perfect for Advent. Some are the names of God or Jesus’ Christmas names.
- The Rabbit Room has a series of 5 Advent articles using art to anticipate Jesus’ coming to earth
- ArtandTheology.com has had Advent readings that I’d like to look into this year from an art and history perspective.
I’m sure there are more ideas out there that I’ve missed, these are just the ones I’m aware of. You can’t do all of this! But the idea is to prepare for His birthday! What you do, depends on your family rhythms. Christ’s humanity is the most unexpected part of the whole Christmas celebration. Let’s make His arrival beautiful to behold and the biggest birthday celebration of the year!
A thought before I end this flood of ideas (I hope you’re not drowning in it all!). If you want to successfully accomplish an Advent activity, put it in front of your family’s eyes somewhere. We are visual creatures so make a visual that will remind you each day to stop and point to Christ’s coming. Clip it near the place you will use it. (Ours is the dining room) Display it on a picture stand. Make it part of your decor. Pin it to the door or tape it to the fridge. Place it in your way so you trip over it, if needed. A few ideas are below and many more abound on Pinterest. Thank you for putting your mind to this. I hope you found an idea or two.