Our Family Advent

Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christmas.  

And even though we are still more than a week away from Thanksgiving, the holiday spirit is in the air.  Or maybe it's just weather below 70 degrees (which puts Texans in a festive mood).

This year, I really want to slow down the faced-paced hustle that is the American Christmas and capture each day with my family. And so I've purposed in my heart and my calendar to do so.

I've been working on creating a special Advent calendar and I wanted to share it with you. 

Our plan is to 'open' each day in the early evening hours after dinner, so we will have time to focus on the activity for each day. For this coming Saturday's Do-It-Yourself Project (DIYP), I will show you exactly how I made mine look fun and festive. If some of my ideas won't work for your family, use what you can and come up with creative ideas to fit your family.

I planned our days with my calendar in my lap. Some activities are time consuming and perfect for the weekends, while others can be done during the school week.

Many activities are just plain old fashioned fun that will help us spend quality time together. I hope some of the other events will remind my children the true meaning of Christmas. I also think it's important this time of year to focus on others: those we love and those less fortunate.

At the end of this post, I've included a pdf of the advent calendar. Please feel free to print it out and enjoy it!

Sshhhh! It's a secret from my kids...each day will reveal the following:

{December 1} Send a letter to our Compassion Child (Don't have one? Talk about getting one in the New Year. I highly recommend sponsoring a child. It's such a great way to teach your kids about others). Read I John 4:10 

{December 2} Visit Santa at the mall or make a list.

{December 3} Let your light shine!  ask: How can we do this? Read John 1:5

{December 4} Build a fort from blankets & sheets/ Read a Christmas book in the fort!

{December 5} Lay on the trampoline and stargaze, talk about your dreams for the future.

{December 6} Fill a shoebox for a needy child (Samaritan's Purse).

{December 7} Go ice skating!

{December 8} Make paper snowflakes (here's some great patterns) Read Ecc. 3:13

{December 9} Play a board game.

{December 10} Pray for poor people.

{December 11} Work on  teacher’s gifts (we're making these).

{December 12} Leave little notes of encouragement all over (i.e. the mailbox, grocery story, park, etc)

{December 13} Make hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows! 

{December 14} Watch a Christmas Movie

{December 15} Give $5 to someone (find a needy person) Read Rom. 5:8 

{December 16} Make cookies

{December 17} Pray for The Persecuted Church and Uzbekistan (You can join us in this one. Our Russian friends would appreciate it!)

{December 18} Make a birthday card for Jesus. Put it under the tree.

{December 19}  Fix Mom’s hair/give her a massage (my 36th birthday!)

{December 20} Go look at Christmas lights.

{December 21} Christmas Carol at someone’s house.

{December 22} Make a spinner

{December 23} Take bubble baths with Christmas confetti (recipe).

{December 24} Read Christmas story from the Bible (children's version).

Open Christmas Eve gift from Mom and Dad (snowman pajamas)

{December 25} Go visit NICU (Every year we visit the Neonatal Intensive Care and drop off cookies to the nurses and doctors who watched over our third child on Christmas a couple of years ago).

Click this link to print out a copy: December 1pdf

Here's how I'm displaying my advent 'tree'.  It's a fun, easy DIY project!


Mommy Mary said...

Okay the last one brought tears to my eyes. My oldest baby came home the day before easter 2006

But thats a great way to spend time with your children this christmas season our family may have to "borrow" some of your ideas

Dawn said...

We do an advent "calendar" every year, too. Ours is a box with doors for each day. The first year I did it, I was consumed with finding tiny gifts to put in each little compartment. As years have passed, I've moved more toward your "style" of celebrating. I'll be stealing some of your ideas this year!

Thanks for sharing! Blessings!!!

Loraine said...

I love this idea... so much better than the stale chocolate behind the cardboard windows!

Thank you for the inspiration.

RefreshMom said...

I love hearing how other families make the advent season special. I started a tradition last year that I'm looking forward to doing again. It's much simpler, following the Christmas story from December 1 through Christmas day with a "Nativitree" I created. The boys really enjoyed it though and I liked that it was a way to keep the days leading to Christmas focused on the real reason for the season.

My long-term goal is to make Christmas only about Christ's birth and to make New Years Day the big gift-opening occasion. I like the idea of being able to capitalize on the after-Christmas sales to buy gifts and celebrate the start of a new year together with fun things we've chosen for each other. If I could just get the rest of the family to catch the vision!

JanMary said...

Will be stumbling this for definite, and plan to use lots of the ideas too!

I love ways to focus more on Christ at Christmas.

Momto3 said...

Thanks for the good ideas. I too am trying to slow down the hustle and bustle and focus our family on Christ during his birthday. We have an advent wreath that my oldest made when he was 3 and we light it on Sunday's during advent and read scripture.

Shana said...

Our family has a "Countdown to Christmas" too! I have a few fun giveaways planned this year on my blog.

You have a lot of great ideas on yours. And I love your Christmas day activity! My oldest and youngest sons were NICU babies. What a nice thing for you to do for the ones that took care of your child.

a Tonggu Momma said...

So glad to see your list! We do this every year as well, so I'll be stealing a few ideas.

The Tongginator's favorite activity is our "Christmas Lights Drive." We drive around the neighborhood, looking at all of the lights, then do an Advent activity about Jesus being the light of the world.

Another favorite of hers is "Panda Day" - the anniversary of the day we saw her picture for the first time. We named it Panda Day because we place a little ceramic panda in the cubby of the Advent Calendar.

Heather said...

You have some great ideas on your calender. I would like to note that the date you have for the Samaritan's Purse shoebox might be too late in some areas. Where I live in Georgia, the shoeboxes are collected this week (2 weeks before Thanksgiving).

Patois said...

What a wonderful way to actually experience the Christmas spirit instead of the hype.

Renae said...

Wonderful! I got tears in my eyes thinking about visiting the NICU. My son lived there for the first month and a half of his life. I hadn't thought of visiting during Christmas. Taking Bug there might encourage some of the parents, too.

Thanks for the idea!

T with Honey said...

I need to do some kind of Advent calendar this year if for no other reason that Princess keeps asking if it is Christmas. A 3 year old has a hard time with the concept of time as it is but seeing Santa at the mall this weekend REALLY added to that confusion.

I love the lessons and fun you've incorporated in this. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa said...

I don't have children at home any more and I hate how expensive everything is getting. My grown children have expensive taste and I don't have the money I used to have. So I LOVE the idea of making a plan, and slowing down things, and making an event out of it instead of dreading everything. I think I will really focus on that this year too. Again, thank you for example.

Julie said...

What a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing it.

Natalie @ I AM (not) said...

Great idea!! I'm so stealing it. and, I see you figured out the pdf what-not gadget. you're so smart!

Heather J. said...

What a wonderful calendar, Kristen. I love the thought of getting back into the "spririt" of Christmas; of spending time-slowing down and enjoying the holiday season.

misty said...

love, love, LOVE this idea!!!!!!!! i will have to change a few since my boys are young but i can for sure think of things to replace them. awesome idea! thanks for sharing & getting me in the christmas spirit the whole month!

Lorie said...

This year we're going to start using this book: "The Advent Jesse Tree: Devotions for Children and Adults to Prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas." (You can find it on Amazon.) In October I got together with other women from church & made ornaments to go with each day. Each person took a day & made 25 of the same ornament. I painted 17 wooden crosses (day 17). You can do a search for ornament ideas & I had found some that you can just print out, too.

Twice Blessed said...

Oh're just a tad bit more organized than I am! I love the NICU idea. That's a great way to give back to the one's who took care of your little girl. Maybe we should do something like that..our's were in from 2/19 to 5/9 and 5/23.

kristen@nosmallthing said...

Oh, this is AWESOME! I'm definitely going to do this...maybe make a few changes, but keep most of it the same!

Oh, and my Henry's birthday is 12/19, too. What a blessed day that is. :)

LifeAtTheCircus said...

LOVE it! I think it is great to make such special memories together as a family. We do some of those things in our family too.

Valarie Lea said...

Oh my goodness I love this idea!!!

D... said...

I'm in love with this idea.

Charming Lamb said...

These are totally great ideas!

You said Texas...are you in Texas??? I'm just outside of Houston.

Lynn said...

Yeah, I'm comment #25, which is kinda like being the Christmas comment....well, sort of.

LOVE this idea! I got so excited about advent season after a MOPS meeting last year. I think I need to wait another year to incorporate most ideas for my daughter though.

This post must have taken a long time to type out for us. Thank you.

Muthering Heights said...

That will make for one FUN holiday season!

Alexia said...

I just read about someone doing this kind of advent calender and thought it was a great idea! I love how your's reflects your faith as well though.

Runningamuck said...

I LOVE this! Our family has stopped doing gifts on Christmas (moved them to New Years instead) and so December really is all about Jesus's birthday and celebrating the season. I love it that way but there always seem to be something "missing" without all the usual gifting hub-bub. So I love these daily activities you planned out. Fabulous idea, I'm going to get right on it. =0)

Jenn said...

Great idea! I've wanted to do this for years. I think I'm going to get at it this year! Thanks for the inspiration.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Cute idea!

Jewels said...

I love your list! I was just getting ready to make mine for this year. My kids are on a different school schedule, so we don't have school most of December. Here's what we did last year to keep busy:
Our advent activities are written on little strips of paper and are hidden in our mini muffin tin advent calendar.
Thanks for the inspiration! Jewels

Sandy said...

Neat advent calender. Wish I had thought of one for my kids when they were little

Takin' time to smell the flowers! said...

Great ideas! We are doing Advent for the first year. I can't wait! I just made our Calendar~
Thanks for sharing, I will definitely take some of your ideas, if that's okay with you:)

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

I ♥ and am stealing this idea!!! (I've been trying to leave comments for days but my computer's been wonky...)

Love it!

Teresa said...

Love this idea- thanks for sharing- I've been looking for idea like this-

Abbie said...

Great suggestions. What a wonderful post!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Super list of suggestions! Love all your ideas. You got me thinking!


SewArtsy said...

Fabulous ideas! I was searching for some ideas to use with my family, and found this post. I've linked this post on my blog here:
Thanks for sharing! Amy

Andrea said...

Great ideas. This year we are doing 25 Days of Giving. I'm using your idea of writing inspirational notes. If you have any other ideas for ways kids can give I'd love to hear them! I'm having a giveaway for anyone who leaves me comments with ideas. I've got about 15 of my own and now I'm stumped!!

Sandy Toes said...

What wonderful ideas! We do some of these but I love how you have it layed out!
-sandy toes

Randi said...

Great ideas ... we do an advent calendar with 24 Days of Service ... I'm going to borrow some of your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

The Mosy Scrapper said...

These are wonderful ideas. I have already done mine (similar organizing mine like yours with planner in lap! LOL) and I may have to change mine!!! hahaha Great ideas on these. Your family will have lots of fun! Happy Holidays!

Bethany said...

I just stumbled upon your blog doing the link to link to link from others and I LOVE IT! I am linking this post on my blog. I didn't get a chance to sit down and do this, but I am flying by the seat of my pants and using some of your great ideas!

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