Friday, November 13, 2009

Kid Friendly Friday - Planning for Advent

Advent season is the time leading up to Christmas and is meant for preparing our hearts and minds for Christ's coming. It starts four Sundays before Christmas, which is November 29th this year. We celebrate the entire Advent season and the entire family looks forward to it all year long. Before we started doing this, Christmas time was a hectic time where I tried to fit a million things into a few weeks and was stressed to the gills trying to make everything perfect. I was exhausted by the time Christmas came. With this new approach I am completely refreshed and can embrace Christmas for what it really is.

Now you have a few options. You can plan a special family night each Sunday (or whichever night works for your family) or you can do what we do, and plan a special family night EACH night of advent. Crazy, you say? I have realized what is important during this time (family, friends, service, Jesus) and not so important (shopping, too many superficial outings, over committing, a dozen different kinds of intricate cookies). The first year we did this I went way over the top. I planned crafts that were too much for the kids, I had a specific Christmas carol for each day, way too long bible readings, and too high of expectations. It was stressful. That isn't what I was going for. My suggestion, make it simple and fun.
The trick to making this successful is in the planning. Get a blank monthly calendar and fill in your normal weekly obligations. Make the activities on these nights very simple, as you are already probably stressed, running around getting everyone to where they need to be. For example, "Breakfast for Dinner (everybody come in your pj's)" or "All Foods Red and Green Dinner" can be events. You are already making dinner, so make it special. Then put on it any of the special holiday events you have (school programs, neighborhood parties, holiday races, etc.). Make these activities the "special" nightly activity. No need to plan anything over and above. Most importantly, do the activities as a family.

I keep the events secret and have put together little boxes they have to find and open each morning which tells them what special activity we have for that night. You can see them HERE. There is also a list of the activities we did last year listed on that post.

I also try to make the atmosphere Christmassy. We have holiday music playing as much as possible. I burn pine smelling candles. I have a big selection of Christmas book that are only out during this time of year. The holiday Little People also come out and the everyday Little People hibernate. We wear our Christmas aprons when cooking. We open the cards we received that day at dinnertime and pray for those families. Each of the Sundays we light the appropriate candle on the advent wreath and read about whichever part of the Christmas story it represents.

Advent is special to us because we are together. We are preparing our hearts and minds together. We are enjoying each other. For me, that is what makes this time of year special.

I'll share a great list of Christmas books next week. Once it's done, I'll share my list of activities we have planned for this year. I'll also do a post on the traditional Advent wreath, readings, and meanings which we incorporate into our Sunday night activities.

Do you have any advent traditions? What did you do this week? Post your link below and let us know!

I'm linking this post up to Amy's Round Robin carnival. Go check it out and add your link there as well!


  1. I want to try this out for sure. Thanks for the idea. I do not have any traditions yet because I have never done this before... This week was another week filled with the library, playing, cleaning, but we did get in a few walks this week the weather was okay. Thanks for playing along. I hope you do not mind if I link up. I know mine is not a kids idea but I hope you like it.. Have a great day... Thanks again...

  2. Oh you are very organised! I love the idea of little boxes to find telling them about the special activity for that night. How fun. :)

  3. Wonderful ideas, I'll have to use some of them in a few weeks when I do a presentation on Advent.

  4. What a great idea to make advent special Sarah! I have already jumped on the calendar, as Corey and I have a MILLION things going these next several weeks. I need to be able to see what we all have going on!

  5. I really wanted to add to my list of Christmas traditions for my girls, and I'm so glad I came across your post. These are such great ideas!!

  6. We started celebrating Advent last year! We only did one night a week, but one thing that made it special was eating dinner on the "fancy dishes" and drinking out of wine goblets (even if it's just water!) and playing soft christmas music in the background during dinner. We even used a special red tablecloth the night we celebrated it each week. It's those little things that make it feel more special!

    I can't wait to see your activities! We just read a scripture passage, sang 1 song, and prayed, but I can't wait to see what other ideas you have!!

    Many blessings!