Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas on Purpose: Celebrate Advent

Remember making paper chains?  I loved doing that as a child to count down the days until Christmas.  As the number of chains dwindled down I grew more and more excited for the day when there would be only one left, one more to go until Christmas morning.  The activity I loved so much as a young girl is now one the highlights of Christmas activities I do with my children now.  Of course back then the meaning was a bit skewed for me.  But now as I grow older I completely understand the meaning behind the advent calendar.  And it makes me anticipate the coming of Christmas that much more.
Advent simply means arrival or coming in Latin.  It specifically relates the arrival or coming of the Christ.  Advent is celebrated in the weeks and days leading up to December 25th.  The way to mark or count down the can be done by week, four weeks before Christmas, or by day.  At our house we use an Advent calendar that we mark by day, starting December 1st and ending on December 25th.

Why celebrate Advent?

Advent is more than just counting the days until Christmas, it is purposefully marking each day until the coming of the Christ.  Many years ago people were anticipating the arrival of the Messiah, they yearned for his coming but they didn’t know when it would be.  Now that Christ has arrived we celebrate Advent as a way to commemorate his coming.  We are re-enacting the days so long ago when God’s people looked for his arrival on earth.
Advent is really about preparing our hearts for Christ’s arrival, getting ready to accept him into our hearts.  It is about making room for him in our hearts and our lives.  We do this as a family because we want our kids to realize that Christmas is about more than presents and fun movies and cookies, but it’s about receiving the greatest gift of all.  I think we need to have our hearts ready for this, ready to accept his great gift of love and grace and mercy.
Our advent calendar includes a variety of things.  Daily we include a little piece of candy, because we all like candy.  But we usually include a mix of gifts and activities.
Here are some things we have done:
small sticker books
a special hot chocolate mug (usually picked up second hand, or at a huge discount after Christmas the prior year)
a nutcracker (also picked up at a discount)
small thrift store finds, they’re full of little snow globes or ornaments this time of year
a special Christmas book
Christmas pencils, pens, earrings or other small things found at the dollar store
We also include activities for the day: (these are usually a surprise thing for the kids, the parents “elves” set the schedule each night after the kids go to bed)
Christmas tree hunting
A fancy dinner
Christmas movie night
shopping for adopt a family
baking treats and sharing with friends and neighbors
ice skating
shopping day
craft day
visiting an assisted living facility
choosing an angel from the angel tree (buying a gift for someone in need)
This is just a sampling of what we do, it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy or even expensive.  It’s more about our hearts and embracing the tradition.  It’s one of those things we do as a family, and it’s enjoyed by all of us.
Interested in more?  Here a few links to get your going:
Do you do advent activities with your family?


  1. Hi! I found your blog via google as I was looking for Advent ideas. Thanks so much for this post and for your heart-felt writing.

    I'll be back! :)

  2. gosh, being gone for seven days made me miss all this goodness till now. this is my fav christmas post i've seen yet! i'm eating up every word of these "christmas on purpose" posts. and it's so funny i just read this because i just said some similar things in my "grace" post for the morning. we are, as usual, on the same page...or wait, perhaps we just know the same God, and He is reminding us of the same things. thanks for sharing.


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