By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Advent is an opportunity to focus our homes on Jesus as we countdown to the joyous Christmas day. It's a four-week invitation to pause, reflect, celebrate, and enjoy this season while remembering its glorious meaning. All ages can enjoy the Advent tradition. Let your creativity guide your home as you enjoy the holidays.
Each week of Advent has a theme. In the first week, we light a purple candle for hope (or promise); in week two, we light a purple candle for preparation (or waiting or prophecy); in week three, we light a pink or purple candle for joy (or peace), and week four we light a purple or pink candle is for love (or adoration).
We can take this tradition and modify it to work in our homes. Our prayers, crafts, discussions, and planned activities can be catered to meet the needs of our homes. Let the themes of each week guide you as you explore what God's Word tells us about who Jesus is and what his life and death accomplished for us all!
Here are some creative Advent calendar ideas for your family's Christmas countdown:
1. Create or Buy a Kitchen Table Wreath
Lighting candles is a precious way to set a sacred tone in your home as you gather around the table to talk about Jesus and his birth. Create or buy an Advent wreath with candles to make the centerpiece of your table and spend time lighting each evening.
The colors of the candles that are lit each week vary depending on what tradition you follow. Some choose to keep the candles all the same color (traditionally purple) and then light a fifth white candle at the end of the Advent season. I've used leftover candles to light at our house in years past rather than buying new ones. There is no wrong way to light these candles. Just as long as you are taking the time to pause and meditate on the meaning of the season, you are doing it right!
2. Make a Special Christmas Season Song List
Christmas music is special because we save it for just November and December. Music has an incredible ability to connect our souls with our Creator. Consider the Psalms and how David encouraged his heart through the songs he composed for his God. Keep your family encouraged through Christmas songs that speak of who Jesus is!
Choose a song for each day of your advent calendar to sing, listen to, and enjoy in your home.
Some ideas include North Point’s Emmanuel, a beautiful reminder of the hope that we have because Jesus came and died for us. Elevation Worship’s Here Come Heaven helps remind us that the build-up of Advent is because we are to awaken our hearts again to the reality that Jesus came down from Heaven to save us! Hillsong Worship has a lovely version of O Come All Ye Faithful, calling us to adore our King! These are just a few suggestions to get you started in creating a playlist that can help keep your home centered on Jesus.
3. Create a Family Adventure Advent Calendar
I have a friend who comes up with a special activity for them to do together for each day of the Advent season. Some of these activities are simple, like everybody wearing Christmas socks! On other days, the tasks are more involved, such as making Christmas cookies for a neighbor. No matter how big or small the day's surprise is, her kids are thrilled to share in doing something special together.
4. Advent Prayer List
Create a prayer list for your family to attend to each evening of the Advent season. You could make a paper garland for the tree that holds each prayer request to take off and bring to the Lord. You could put your list on popsicle sticks and take one out each night to pray over, or just keep it simple and write a list that you move through over the course of the Advent season. This season of intentional family prayer will open your hearts to the work of the Lord.
5. Names of Jesus Advent Calendar
A beautiful way to express to your family who Jesus is comes through learning his names. You can purchase some beautiful advent calendars that give the name of Jesus from the Bible and some Scriptures to meditate on for that day. This is a simple, sweet, and special way to center your home on Jesus over the holiday.
6. Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar
Our kids (and sometimes the adults, too) can get super focused on all the things that they want for Christmas. It's easy for this holiday to become a pretty self-focused one. One way to remind your children that this season is about giving more than receiving is through an acts of kindness advent calendar. Each day includes an act of kindness to be completed. Etsy sells some of these calendars, or you could make your own to enjoy!
7. Advent Scripture Cards
Read together each night about Jesus as a family using advent scripture cards as your guide. Print a copy of pre-made adorable cards that guide you on where to read with your family, and find a place to string them up so you remember to return to your readings each night. Your kids will love the adorable photos and will better understand what Christmas is about through the texts from the Bible highlighted on each card.
8. Coloring Advent Craft
If you have some art lovers at home, coloring your own advent countdown is a great option. Print these beautiful coloring pages to complete together each day and make them a part of your holiday decor. The time spent making art together will be so special for your family.
9. Countdown with Advent Ornaments
Add a new ornament to your tree daily as you countdown to Christmas! You can get sets that include the name of Jesus, Scriptures, or go through the Jesse Tree. You could even get a small tree just for these special ornaments that sit as a reminder of the reason for the season in your home.
10. Read the Jesus Storybook Bible for Advent
My husband and I can't read through the Jesus Storybook Bible without tearing up! It's a beautiful book that highlights key stories from the Bible for your kids to enjoy. There are several reading plans, ornament sets, and other ideas on how to use this book during the Advent season. I love that it's a great read for all ages, and each story is short.
May your family settle on a sweet way to remember Jesus throughout the Advent season. He is our hope and truly deserves all our praise. Let's center our homes on him as we prepare to celebrate on Christmas day.