With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about Advent. This is such a wonderful time to steer the focus from "getting presents" and take this sweet opportunity to share the true meaning- the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Itching to get crafty?? Here are some of my favorite advent calendar tutorials for your inspiration!
1. Pottery Barn Inspired Branch Calendar
2. Advent Pockets bunting style
3. Advent Quilt Calendar
4. Simple Embroidered Calender
5. Pottery Barn Burlap Calendar
6. Garnet Hill garland calendar
7. Cone garland Calender
8. Garnet hill bucket calender
9. Rusty bucket calendar
or here for tons of ideas with paper like these:
or go to this flickr pool to see more advent calenders!
Now that you have ideas, wondering what you say or do now??
Here is a list of very simple verses to go through to share the story of Jesus' birth. It is great for younger kiddos. Very concrete and easily understandable for those sweet young minds. Now you can either put a simple trinket for each day to represent the verse, or a piece of candy/sm toy for your kiddos to reveal.
- God made it possible for Mary to be pregnant. Matthew 1:18
- An angel talked to Joseph about the birth. Matthew 1:20
- The angel said that Mary’s special son will save us from our sins.Matthew 1:21
- God had already said that his Son would come in this way. Matthew 1:22–23
- Joseph would care for Mary while she was pregnant. Matthew 1:24–25
- It was time to register for the population census. Luke 2:1–2
- God had promised that Bethlehem would be Jesus’ birthplace. Micah 5:2
- Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem to be registered. Luke 2:3–5
- Mary gave birth to baby Jesus in a stable. Luke 2:6–7
- An angel surprised some shepherds. Luke 2:8–9
- “Good news” was announced about a baby who would be a Savior. Luke 2:10–12
- Lots of angels joined in praising God! Luke 2:13–14
- The shepherds got excited about finding the baby. Luke 2:15
- The shepherds visited the special baby. Luke 2:16–17
- Everyone was amazed at the baby boy! Luke 2:18–20
- The baby was named Jesus. Luke 2:21
- The wise men followed a star, looking for Jesus. Matthew 2:1–2
- King Herod got concerned when he heard about Jesus. Matthew 2:3–4
- The Old Testament had already told about the town of Jesus’ birth.Matthew 2:5–6
- King Herod came up with a plan to find Jesus. Matthew 2:7–8
- The wise men again found the guiding star. Matthew 2:9–10
- The wise men met Mary and Jesus. Matthew 2:11
- God warned the wise men to avoid King Herod. Matthew 2:12
- Jesus came so we can become children of God! Galatians 4:4–5
- Jesus grew up to die on the cross so we can have never-ending life with God! John 3:16–17
Now if you have older children, here are some small passages that you can read and go into more detail about the story as well as activities to do along side the calendar.
November 28: First Sunday of Advent
Bible readings: Isaiah 9:2; John 8:12
One of the most treasured traditions of the Advent season is the Advent wreath. Made of evergreens, the wreath includes five candles. You can make this wreath with your children out of live or plastic evergreen branches by fastening them into a circle with green twisty ties or lightweight wire. Then place four candleholders and taper candles within the greenery. Three of the candles should be purple — although some churches now substitute a blue candle to represent the church for one of the purple candles — and the fourth is rose-colored. In the center of the wreath's circle, place a thick, white candle. Why these colors are important will be explored later in the Advent season.
At dinner, light one of the purple candles. This lighting of the first candle signifies the beginning of the Advent season. Extinguish the flame when dinner is over. Every night this week, light the same candle at dinner. The next purple candle won't be lit until the second Sunday of Advent (a new candle being lit each Sunday), and the final white candle isn't lit until Christmas Day.
Not only will this Advent wreath be a daily reminder of those who historically waited for the fulfillment of God's promises, it may also be a meaningful holiday tradition and a seasonal decoration for your family.
Bible readings: Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalm 89:1-2
Talk to your children about the circle of evergreen branches in your Advent wreath. The circle reminds us of God's love; it never ends. The evergreen branches represent God's faithfulness; they remain green during all seasons. The four taper candles symbolize how God's people have suffered and rejoiced as they waited for the birth of the Christ child. The center candle serves as a reminder that Christ is central to this Christmas season. Let a child light the first purple candle (as you supervise him) during dinner today.
Bible readings: John 18:37; Hebrews 1:1-4
Though red and green are the customary colors of Christmas, the traditional color for the Advent season is purple. In many churches, this is reflected in the clothing of the clergy and the decorations on the altar. During the time of Christ, purple was a royal color, worn mostly by kings and rulers. Have your children search for something they own that is purple. The color reminds us that the birth of Christ was a royal entrance. Discuss how Jesus came into the world as a baby, even though He was the King.
Bible readings: Psalm 51:10-12; Psalm 40:1-3
As the Advent season begins, it is important to remember that this time is one of preparation. Just as a family prepares for a guest to visit, so we prepare our hearts and lives for the celebration of the Christ child.
Have your children help clean your home as though you were expecting a very important guest. As you clean, talk with your children about cleaning their hearts through prayer and repentance. Intentional preparation of our hearts and our homes reflects the anticipation we feel as Christmas draws closer.
Bible readings: Isaiah 7:14; Psalm 92:1-5
Music and worship are important aspects of most Christian celebrations. The carols and hymns surrounding the birth of our Savior are a rich part of the Advent season. You can help your children grow in their appreciation of the special sounds of the Christmas season, even as they learn more about praising God through song. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is a traditional Advent hymn that can be sung in church, at home and around the neighborhood, perhaps as part of Christmas caroling. Sing this song with your children. When you are done singing it together, explain to them that "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" may be a traditional Advent song, but it also reminds us to focus on the arrival of the Christ child.
Bible readings: Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-24
Two central figures in the Christmas story are Mary and Joseph. Discuss the Christmas story with your children (you may even want to read a children's book about the Nativity, such as My First Message: The Christmas Story by Eugene H. Peterson), focusing on these characters. The story of Mary can teach us to trust that God's words are true and His promises will be fulfilled. Joseph provides an example of obedience to God. The humility of Mary and the obedience of Joseph are wonderful examples of people who trusted God.
Have your children draw or create figures of Mary and Joseph out of clay, and display them in a place where your family will be reminded of their amazing stories.
Bible readings: Hebrews 11:1; Psalm 27:14; 130:5
Giving and receiving gifts are an important part of the Christmas season. For Advent, prepare a small gift for each of your children, such as a cookie, a water balloon or a paper doll, and hide the gifts in relatively easy places to find throughout your home. Have your children take turns searching for a gift, but stall for a moment before letting the youngest child go first. Younger children may feel as if they have waited a long time, even if they haven't. While each child is waiting for his or her turn, talk about the excitement of waiting. It can be difficult to wait for something even as small as this little gift, so imagine how exciting it is to wait for and anticipate the gift of Jesus.
When all the gifts are found, remind your children that you gave these gifts out of love — how much more must God love us to give us His Son, Jesus!
Week 2 of this Advent calendar will be available Friday, November 26 here. Weeks 3 and 4 will be posted the two successive Fridays after that.
This season, I don’t want the busyness of the Christmas season to crowd out a quiet anticipation of the wonder of incarnation. I want the glories of God to illuminate and outshine all our Christmas joys.
Which calendar are you going to make??