3 Simple Tips for Navigating Advent with Children

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Advent begins this week for Christians around the world, but do you really know what Advent is?

Advent is the season of waiting for Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it ends of Christmas Eve. Many people simplify by celebrating Advent from December 1 to 24.

No matter when you observe Advent, it is a time of happiness, celebration, and hopeful anticipation of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let’s not pretend that our kids (and maybe we) don’t look forward to the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. They do! Most of us give presents to our kids, friends, and family, and that night and morning are so very special. But, the month of waiting leading up to that? It’s hard. Nobody likes to wait. I hate waiting. My kids hate waiting. Waiting stinks.

Celebrating Advent as its own holiday, a special event all its own, makes waiting for Christmas a little easier. The days pass more quickly. And, best of all, we can talk with our families about Jesus all month long, so when the excited whirlwind of Christmas blows through, I don’t worry about new toys and old legends.

Our kids can know the Reason for the Season.

If we spend a month looking forward to and celebrating His birth, He will be in the forefront of our minds, even as we rip the paper off the brand new amazing whizbanger we’ve been dying to have all year long.

So here are the resources my family uses to celebrate the “holiday” of Advent:

Christ-centered books.

Reading to our kids (especially at bedtime) is such a special habit to start with, but reading a book specifically about Jesus brings the Advent full circle. Some families gift wrap 25 books at the beginning of the month, but I’m not that organized. I let the kids pick the book that they want to read. Among our favorites are One Small DonkeyThe Pine Tree Parable (my favorite!), A Star for Jesus, J is for Jesus, Itsy Bitsy Christmas, and more. There are a plethora of Jesus-based Christmas books out there (on store.faithgateway.com!) if you use the search engine. These are all picture books, specifically for the preschool to early elementary school crowd, but many older kids like to be read to at night, too.

A Jesse Tree.

The Jesse Tree is my very favorite Advent tradition. Essentially, it’s a tree (which can be a tabletop tree {what we use}, a large tree, a poster of a tree, or a tree cut out of construction paper), and you put a new ornament on each day. The ornaments begin with God creating the world on the first day, Adam and Eve on the second, the fall on the third, and they continue through Noah, Isaac, Abraham, Joseph, King David, Esther, and many others. By the end, you have traced most of the major figures in the lineage of Jesus as it is described in the New Testament. It’s a wonderful trip through the Old Testament, through stories familiar and unfamiliar. This will be our eighth year using the Jesse Tree, and I created a printable Jesse Tree devotional a while back that we still use. It includes 28 days (that’s the longest Advent can be), and each day includes a passage from the Bible, a story, a song about the main character, and a prayer. It’s appropriate for preschoolers up through big kids, and it’s free to download from the link above.

Devotions for Christmas.

Take time for yourself this month – time to relax and breathe. This beautiful devotional is full of photos and peaceful prose that will have you saying “Ahh” all December long. (This one is for adults.)

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Your Turn

What are your Advent traditions? How do you count down to Christmas with your children? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Tara Ziegmont

Tara Ziegmont is a homeschooler, former high school astronomy teacher, Certified Writing Specialist, blog coach, and SEO Specialist. She has blogged at Feels Like Home since 2007, where she helps women to live more fully in every moment (even the ones that suck). Tara celebrates her two crazy daughters (ages 6 and 2 1/2) and lives an old-school back-to-basics frugal lifestyle near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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