Before we even get to the big questions of Christmas (how do we explain santa to our kids, what evangelistic events can we put on for our neighbours, who is going to get socks as a gift this year?!), we come to the question of advent.
Have you even thought about it?
Or is it one of those things that just happens – it suddenly becomes the 1st of December so you rush down to B and M bargains and buy a cheap chocolate calendar and let the kids have two chocolates tomorrow! This year more than ever before there are so many secular advent calendar choices – lego, sweets, beer, and even this one:
I want to challenge you (with just over 3 weeks to go) to think outside the box for advent this year, and really use it as a chance to deepen your own and your kids relationship with God. Below are some great ideas for advent, please pick and mix to suit your family (and share this post with others too!!).
Until recently I’d not heard of Jesse Trees, but this year I myself have bought a set of these lovely ornaments from Gospel Centred Parenting ready for advent. The idea is that each ornament has a bible verse accompanying it, telling the story of the bible from creation to the birth of Jesus. It is a celebration of Jesus’ ancestors and everything leading up to him coming. I am excited to explore this with my boys this year, as in the last few years we have just explored the Christmas story in isolation.
My plan is to do this in the evening as part of their quiet time, so that we can get the next decoration, add it to the tree, read the bible verse and discuss it and pray about it as a family. If you would like your own set, then head over to Gospel Centred Parenting where you can get the full set for £35.
Last year we used a fabulous sticker advent calendar from Godventure to track through the Christmas story each day in advent. If your kids are sticker addicts then they will love this! I had to give up my desire for the stickers to be completely straight, but it was lovely to see the picture fill up with stickers over the 24 days.
You can get a giant A1 sized poster for £15, or if your budget is a bit smaller then the A4 sized one is only £5.
reverse advent calendar
You may have seen this one on Facebook a lot last year – the concept is that instead of getting something each day in advent, you give something away. For most people this was items of food which would be donated to a food bank at the end of advent. What a fantastic way to teach your kids about generosity and to have a tangible impact on their local community. It would be great to take them each day to the shop (on the way home from school maybe) to choose something to go in the box for that day.
If you are looking for a way to cultivate generosity even more, then perhaps take a look at the Bible Society’s Advent Challenge. There is a task of kindness for each day in advent, and last year it included things like “say three kind things today” and “let someone out before you when driving”.
If you have ever been tempted to join in the “elf on the shelf” crave then this one is for you! All you need is a cuddly shepherd toy to hide around the house each day (you can buy the specific branded one or just use the shepherd from your existing nativity set). Then on the website there are downloadable cards with activities and thoughts for each day throughout advent.
Make your own pocket advent calendar
If you have a pocket style advent calendar (or fancy a bit of pre-Christmas sewing!) then why not include some bible verses in it this year. Godventure has free downloadable cards you can add which work really well, and you add a bit to the story each day. The sky is the limit when it comes to other creative things you could add to the pockets.
If your kids would still be disappointed not to have a chocolate advent calendar, then the real advent calendar is a great choice. It comes with a nativity story book and the chocolates are nativity shaped too. Some of the big super markets do stock these now, but you can also order online from eden.co.uk.
Our boys have been given these for the last few years and love them – my eldest who is five was able to do the puzzles inside the little booklet last year which made him really happy!
Thanks for checking out this post, and I hope and pray you have found an idea to inspire you for advent this year. Please do let me know if you choose one of the options and how it goes!