Advent is a time to prepare for Christmas and if you are a Christian it’s a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.
It’s a time of expectations and waiting and although these 4 weeks leading up to December 25th can certainly be hectic it’s nice to slow down a bit and remember the real reason behind the holiday.
Celebrating Advent as a family can be a great way to not only come closer as a family but to also really put a focus on what Christmas is all about for everyone in your home.
As a family you can pick and choose from the 10 Advent activities for families depending on how much time you have as well as how old the people in your family are. For example, with younger kids it may be harder to get out and volunteer your time but you can always say prayers with your little ones instead.
Advent Ideas For Families
1. Get An Advent Calendar For The Whole Family
Ad advent calendar is a great way to countdown the days until Christmas and can be used by the whole family.
There are a variety of different calendars to for your family. You may find that a Christian Advent Calendar may be the best choice for your home. These calendars tend to have a Bible verse that you can reflect on for the day and lead up to the birth of Jesus.
If you have younger children you can even go with a Toy Advent Calendar that they can open to get them even more excited about Christmas. Along with opening the calendar you can always add in a short devotion or reading of the “Christmas Story” from The Bible.
The one thing to keep in mind about most advent calendars is that they usually have 24 days but for Catholics and other Christians who celebrate Advent, it is actually 4 weeks so you may need to just adjust for the calendar and start on December 1st instead of the first day of Advent.
2. Place An Advent Wreath In Your Home
A basic Advent wreath consists of 4 candles placed on a circular wreath. Some people also have a fifth candle in the middle of the wreath.
Traditionally, there are 3 purple candles and one pink candle that are used. The middle candle, if being used is usually white. Some other denominations use all red candles for the wreath.
The circular aspect of the wreath represents God’s everlasting love that never ends. The fact that it is traditionally made with evergreen leaves represents eternal life in Jesus that never dies.
Each candle symbolizes the weeks of Advent that lead up to Christmas day. One candle should be lit each week until the final week before Christmas when all the candles on the wreath are lit.
When lighting the candle you can add in a prayer as well as choose a Bible passage to reflect on as well.
3. Set Up Your Family Nativity Scene
Setting up your family’s nativity scene shouldn’t just be about decorating your home. Instead make it a family time to explain and tell the story of Jesus’ birth.
For younger children you can always use a children’s nativity scene that isn’t breakable so your kids can actually interact with the scene. If you only have a nice set that you don’t want them to touch they may have no interest with it.
You can display your nativity scene on a table or shelf in your home. Set it out all at once or you can take time every day to add a figure to the scene as you wish.
4. Read Advent Devotions As A Whole Family
You can choose a weekly devotional or do a quick one every morning or night with the whole family.
Reading Scripture together as well as reflecting on what you read is a great way to keep in mind the real reason behind Christmas.
If you have kids you can find Advent devotionals for the whole family, so everyone can participate.
The devotionals can be as simple as reading a short Bible passage and asking a question about what you took away from it or you can involve other things like Christmas songs, prayers, and a longer themed discussion.
5. Make An Advent Prayer Garland
Advent is a great time for families to get together and pray for loved ones or even for specific people around the world.
To get children involved, have them cut out strips of paper for each day of Advent up to Christmas Eve. You can make the garland red and green or choose any holiday colors you want.
Them write down specific people you want to pray for on each one of the strips of paper. Connect them together like you would a paper garland and you can even use the garland to decorate the home.
Every day of Advent, have someone remove one of the links of paper from the garland and that will be the person/people you pray for that day.
Some of the people you may want to incorporate into the prayer garland include specific family members like grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of the family, other church members who may have certain special requests and needs as well as general groups of people like missionaries or ministries.
6. Volunteer Your Time To Help Serve Others
Although the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas can be busy and hectic, try to make a few hours in your time to volunteer and help serve other people. Even with kids, you can still find volunteer opportunities to help make an example of caring for others.
In fact, the holidays is a great time for finding volunteer opportunities from soup kitchens to toy drives and even something as simple as singing some Christmas carols for a nursing home or hospital.
7. Donate Gifts or Other Goods To The Less Fortunate
Starting around Thanksgiving time you’ll find several charities and organizations who collect new or gently used goods to hand out to the less fortunate.
If you have kids you can have them go through their toys and books and make a donation pile. You can also go to a toy store or local discount store and allow them to pick out a toy to donate if you have the extra funds.
You can even do something a bit more and put together a Christmas gift shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. The shoe box can be filled with small gifts such as yo-yo’s, dolls, balls, and art supplies like crayons and paper. The shoe box is then sent with missionaries that take the boxes to children in different third world countries.
8. Prepare Your Home For Christmas
Some people think that decorating their home for Christmas is a chore, but you can make it a fun family thing to help celebrate in the days leading up to the holiday.
Gather together and decorate the Christmas tree and make it a special day.
Preparing your home for Christmas can be a fun way to spend time as a family and simply just “be” together with your loved ones. You can even turn on some Christmas hymns to make the day even more special.
You can even turn a day into a special Christmas baking day to simply spend time as a family baking some goods. Even better if you donate some of those goods or take them to your loves ones or neighbors.
9. Attend a Christmas Concert Or Play
During Advent time you will find most churches will put on some sort of Christmas concert or play. A lot of churches tend to put these on for free or for a donation to the church, so this may be a great option if you are short on funds this holiday.
Although it can be fun to go to the local theater for a Christmas play, going to a local church tends to put more focus on the real reason behind Christmas rather than the commercial aspect.
Of course it’s your choice what you attend, as any holiday events you attend as a family can make this time extra special.
10. Read A Christmas Book Each Day As A Family
Reading a different Christmas book as a family every day of Advent is great for families with younger children. Christmas books can be a great way to introduce your young child to the real Christmas story of how Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
In fact, there are some great Christmas books for toddlers that do a wonderful job of simply retelling the birth of Jesus. Of course, you’ll find some fun Christmas/ winter themed books to read as well.
If you don’t want to have to spend a lot of money on these books, you can always head to your local library or get them super cheap at a thrift store or second hand book store in your town.
Of course, if you do buy them you can use them year after year as most kids will look forward to reading the books for quite some time.
If you are looking for even more ways to countdown the days until Christmas with your kids and you aren’t completely focused on the religious aspect of Advent, then check out my Countdown to Christmas post. This post concentrates more on activities that you can do with your children and although some of them are concentrated on the religious part of the holiday most of them are simply about enjoying the holiday season.
Advent is a time to look forward to the celebrating the birth of Jesus as well as spending time with your loved ones. By spending time in prayer, serving others, and simply just spending time with your family you can ensure to give your family a great holiday that isn’t just all about presents.