4 DIY Advent Calendars to Make This Christmas

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming." Advent in the 4th and 5th centuries was a time of preparation for the baptism of new Christians. Christians would spend 40 days in prayer and fasting to prepare for the celebration that accompanied the baptism of new believers.

Over time Advent has been connected to the coming of Christ. Initially, Christians used this term to reference Christ's second coming, but by the Middle Ages, Advent was a part of the celebration of Christ's first coming. Today we celebrate Advent over the four Sundays leading up to Christmas each year. Observing Advent is a way to center our hearts and minds on the truth of the gospel over the Christmas season.

Advent is a chance to intentionally take our focus off of the hustle of the season. Even when things feel chaotic, we can find peace in Jesus. Advent is a way to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from Heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe.

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). Traditionally, you would light a candle each Sunday during a church service to mark the event, but many of us may not attend churches that practice advent candle lighting, which is okay. Reading, praying, and lighting candles to reflect with your family from home is perfectly appropriate.

Here are some fun DIY advent calendar ideas to get you started on your journey this holiday season!

1. DIY Advent Kitchen Table Wreath

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/MKucova

One way to easily bring home the advent practice of weekly candle lighting and reflection is to add an advent wreath with candles to your table centerpiece. If you love the idea of a wreath but aren't crafty, Amazon has some great pre-made options.

The colors of the candles 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!

You could make a wreath for your table if you are more crafty! A fun idea to get the kids involved in a crafty project by using their handprints as the decorative base for your centerpiece. This blog walks you through how you can make the kids a part of your advent centerpiece. Craftivity Designs has a huge list of modern advent centerpieces that you can easily create for your home if you are looking for a more refined piece to add to your table.

2. Create Your Own Advent Playlist

Nothing fills your home with the holiday spirit like Christmas music! Why not edit that list a bit and create an "advent playlist" that your family can enjoy together as you count down the days until Christmas? This would be a list of songs that celebrate and remind your home of the Advent themes. Playing these songs is an excellent way to create a worshipful tone in your home.

The theme for the first week of Advent is hope. North Point’s Emmanual is a beautiful reminder of the hope that we have because Jesus came and died for us. Week two of Advent, we are reminded to prepare our hearts to receive our Savior. 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!

Phil Wickham's Joy to the World. Week three of Advent's theme is joy so playing this joyful tune is a great reminder that we can be joyful this Christmas because we are celebrating the gift of Jesus. Week four, we are reminded of the Love of God. Hillsong Worship has a lovely version of O Come All Ye Faithful, which calls us to come and 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 Prayer Garland

Being intentional about family prayer time over the Advent season is a great way to bring more of Jesus into the holiday season.

One option to help prompt your family to pray each day of Advent would be to create a Christmas Card holder for each of the Christmas Cards you receive. As you count down the days until Christmas, selecting one family card to pray over is one way to help organize your prayer time. You could even send that family a little note or message letting them know you spent time praying for them as a family.

A prayer garland is another way to organize your daily prayer time and countdown the days of Advent. Construct a red and green ringed garland and write a name on each ring. Each night break off one ring and pray over that person or family.

Simply writing names on popsicle sticks and putting them in a jar on the table to pull and pray over works too. Praying for those you love who likely had a more stressful year than they anticipated is a great way to show love for your community this holiday season.

4. Create Advent Family Fun Cards

christmas advent kids children read reading book calendar story

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/tatyana_tomsickova

A very fun mom friend of mine shared a really exciting way they make memories as a family over the advent season. She makes "family fun cards" for each day of Advent. You could hang these cards on your mantle with string and clothespins, make a book of them to flip through for each day of Advent, or laminate them to post in your house.

Each of the cards she makes has a special way of celebrating the season as a family on it. Some things are simple such as enjoying hot chocolate together while reading our advent devotional, and others are more elaborate such as a Great Wolf Lodge trip they planned over Christmas break. The great thing is you get to be the creator of the fun that your kids can look forward to over the entire advent season.

If you are looking for an easy way to incorporate these fun cards into your routine, Etsy has some options that other parents have already taken the time to create.

Remember that simple is a perfectly wonderful way to enjoy this season of joyful anticipation. What matters more than having the perfect devotional or decor is that we take time to read the story of Jesus with our families. Remember to make this a season of prayer and worship for our King. Everything else is a bonus!

Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Natalia Bodrova

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

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