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It’s hard to believe we’re already four days into December. We are (finally) into full-on Christmas mode around here, and I’m finding this Advent season particularly enjoyable.

It’s our son’s first Christmas, and our four-year old daughter is starting to understand anticipation and what Christmas is really about. Which is why Dan and I are trying to be intentional about how we celebrate Advent. But intentional in no way implies complicated: that won’t work with two small kids.

So here’s our simple plan:

Advent Calendar

This simple calendar (inspiration for it came from here) took us about 15 minutes to make and was very cheap. The frame is from the bottom of the mini crib we just retired after our son moved into his big crib. I bought ribbon, two packages of tie-on gift tags and some mini clothes pins. We attached the ribbon with a staple gun, removed the ties from the tags and hung them up with the mini clothes pins. We labeled the back of each tag with a number, and each night I put two mini post-it notes on the back. The first one has our advent activity for the day and the second our advent reading.

Activities

What I like about the post-it notes, is the calendar will be easily reusable next year, and if an activity won’t work on a certain day, I can just switch it out with something else. Here are the activities we plan to do (in no particular order – that will be left up to the level of craziness from the kiddos).

  • Decorate the tree
  • Decorate the rest of the house
  • Make paper snowflakes
  • Bake cookies
  • Watch Elf
  • Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Go to the parade of light
  • Make a snowman
  • Make snow angels
  • Attend our church’s Christmas Eve service
  • Participate in our church’s Adopt-a-Family drive
  • Drive around looking at lights in our pajamas
  • Color Christmas-themed coloring pages
  • Drink hot cocoa
  • Eat peppermint ice cream
  • Have a Christmas music dance party
  • Listen to The Christmas Miracle of Johnathan Tooney audio book
  • Go sledding
  • Have an indoor snowball fight
  • Skate indoors (wax paper on feet with rubber bands)
  • Make a Christmas-themed craft
  • Attend library’s “Dashing Stories” story time
  • Visit a live nativity scene
  • Snuggle up under the Christmas tree

Readings

We’re doing an Advent reading of The Jesus Story Book Bible (based on this compilation of stories). Each evening at dinner our daughter looks at the second sticky note which has the name of the story, and we read it out loud. It’s so much fun to help her start connecting the dots of the Big Story of the Bible.

Dan and I are following along in this Advent Devotional (you can sign up online and have it emailed to you) put out by the professors at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. We’ve done this for several years, and the brief devotionals are an excellent reminder that this season is all about anticipating the arrival of a tiny baby who is our coming King.

And that’s it. There will be no elaborate crafts or dozens upon dozens of baked goods. Maybe another year. Or maybe not. I do hope that as our kiddos get older we can do a Jesse tree and other such activities that point us to the meaning of Christmas. For now, I will remember that I am a mom to littles and if I need to, we’ll do Christmas-themed coloring pages for more days than one.

How are you celebrating Advent?

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