Advent Calendars and Beyond!

I’ve always loved Christmas. I’ve always loved the month long celebration of Jesus’ birth. But since having kids I’ve come to treasure the opportunity to spend good quality time every day thinking, talking and celebrating the birth of the King of all Kings! My favorite way to do so is with an Advent Calendar! And not just a lift-the-flap-get-a-piece-of-chocolate, either. Here are the advent calendars and activities we’ve done the past few years (and the intro for our 2010 activities!!)…

advent crafts

advent ornaments 2007

When Lydia was 1 (just a month from 2), I found this random kids’ book with a mini advent calendar in the back. It told part of the Christmas story and gave a suggestion for an activity to do each day. It was honestly not a very good book, it jumped out of the Christmas story and into Jesus’ life and parables and was kind of confusing. So, I decided to make a little ornament with each page of the book instead. They weren’t lovely as you can imagine a 1 year old making an ornament that I made up on the spot after reading a book. But it was such a fun time for the 2 of us. I felt like even at 1 she understood the Christmas Story. (OK, she was my first, what can I say?)

christmas crafts

advent ornaments 2008

The next year I decided to be a little more prepared and we were going to do a Jesse Tree (<—a beautiful free ebook from Holy Experience) but as we got to Day 3 I realized it was too much information for a 2 year old. Oh, we will do a Jesse Tree one day, but when the kids are a little older. Redemptive history is something I want my kids to know and understand but as preschoolers I want them to know the details of the Christmas Story and the reason for this crazy (and amazing) season. So, I reverted back to the year before and we made ornaments for each part of the story. We hung them on a flat brown-craft paper tree and again, I was so excited to see Lydia love and understand the details of the greatest story on earth!

christmas ornament

advent ornaments 2009

Last year I spent a lot of time planning our advent activities. I really loved our two-year old tradition of making ornaments. So, we did it again. And I detailed it all on Impress Your Kids*. All the crafts are made of recycled materials from around the house. You can glance through all the pictures and supplies and I bet you’ll have 99% of them in your house. If not, you can probably wing it and still make the same idea with other stuff you can scrounge up. (This is my favorite kinda crafting!)

names of god

Names of God Advent ornaments. 2009.

At this same time Leigh did a beautiful Names of God advent activities*. It’s a awesome Jesse-Tree-ish type activity that your entire family will learn from–and enjoy!

And if that doesn’t give you enough ideas for this coming Christmas season…

Tomorrow (or maybe later today) I’m going to publish the first week of our 2010 Advent activities! This year, with a 2 and 4 year old, a busy schedule and the desire to try something new, I’m going to forego the daily advent ornaments and go with a weekly advent activity. And I am SO EXCITED about it!

Each week I’ll give 7 activities for you and your family to do. You can do them once per day like a traditional advent calendar. Or if you’re like me, you can do a few a day when you have time. Each week we’ll have 7 pieces of paper (I’m a sucker for instructions!) that share a new activity—

1. A hands-on activity to introduce the theme of the week

2. A Christmas movie that builds on that theme.

3. Lighting an advent candle.

4. Memorizing an important Bible verse from the Christmas story.

5. Making a craft (probably an ornament!) that helps teach the story or theme.

6. Doing a service project–give a gift, help someone, etc.

7. Taking a traditional Christmas symbol and “redeeming” it with real meaning.

Does that sound fun?! It does to me! Each week’s theme is based on what I’ve read about traditional advent candles and wreaths. This is not part of my tradition but I like the idea. So, the first week we’ll be talking about HOPE. Week 2 is LOVE, then JOY and PEACE.

I think this is going to be a special adventure. I’m hoping it will be easy for you to copy and I’m going to try to give you full details (including some free printables) every week so you can join in. This should be an appropriate idea for kids of all ages!

I hope you’ll join me in leading your kids in a fantastic celebration of the greatest gift of all–Jesus!

*I compiled all our previous activities on one page for you! Click above or on the button in our sidebar for complete info!


  1. Sounds like fun! Emily loves to do “count down” activities to help pass the days. So this will be fun to add to our daily curriculum!

  2. fun, fun! I”m excited to see what you have for us!

  3. I’m chafing at the bit! Really. I’ve been pondering what to do for our Advent Calendar this year and I MUST see yours! lol. Can’t wait! (lurker from Savannah)

  4. Can’t wait to see your Advent activities! We are going to attempt a pared-down version of the Jesse Tree along with doing an advent wreath… we’ll see how it goes.

  5. I can’t wait!!!

  6. I love how you adapt for your growing little ones 🙂 Something I’m growing accustomed to as well with 3 boys 5 and under! Jesse Tree is something I’m interested in as well and I came up with our own version using “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Bell Graham:

  7. Love these ideas!! I want to incorporate some of these into our homeschooling lessons.


  8. SO many great advent calendars/ Jesse tree ideas out there. I loved the whole “or do a few in one day” I fully intended to do an Advent tree… but I haven’t started it yet, so tomorrow is gonna be a catch up day!! 🙂

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