The catalyst for me looking into celebrating Advent last year was my desire to instil the real meaning of Christmas in my daughter's heart and try to drown out some of the commercialism and focus on Santa. I have come to love it for my own heart preparation and focus on Jesus in a busy season too.
Last year I tried to pack so many ideas into how we celebrated Advent that it did become overwhelming and another to do at times (you can read about these plans in this post). This year, I am streamlining my plans. I wrestled a little with wanting to create traditions in our family but still being responsive to where our family is at. I have come to accept that Advent celebrations will evolve over time as my daughter gets older and as the demands on our time fluctuates over the years. I have tried to pick a few things that we would like to be set traditions each year, with the rest being changed up each year to match family development and interests at the time.
I spent some time this week filling in my Advent planner (you can find a free printable of the planner here) and trying to get organised with supplies to take the pressure off December.
Christmas decorations and Advent Sundays
Our Advent celebrations will begin with setting up our tree and putting up Christmas decorations on Saturday November 28. This will allow us to have everything up and ready for the first Sunday of Advent. This will be the first year of following the tradition of celebrating Advent for the four Sundays before Christmas. The devotional I am using for myself (a post for another day) has a family page for each Sunday with verses to read and words that you can use with your family as you light the candle for that week. I am really looking forward to this new tradition. I have even made our own Advent wreath to allow us to do this without blowing out the budget. (Pictures will follow when I have all the decorations up!) We will be lighting the candle in the mornings as evenings in December are filled with carols events and other get togethers.
Truth in the Tinsel
Last year I only selected a few activities from this amazing kids Advent devotional. My daughter loved them. This year, I am attempting every day! I am making this achievable for us by pre-packing the supplies for each day's craft in a zip lock bag so they are ready to go. I have seen some people do swaps where each person makes enough supply bags for one of the days for the whole group then swap. A great idea that I may attempt next year. I am also keeping it achievable by planning in advance to use the printable ornaments on those days that I know we will be too busy to do a craft. I will have these printed out in advance too.
Truth in the Tinsel is so flexible and adaptable to age groups and even has suggestions for when you only want to do a few days of it.
Click on the image below if you want to buy a copy (comes as an ebook for you to download and print as you need)
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You can get the printable ornaments here:
Christmas so quickly becomes a time of "what can I get?" that I wanted a way to be intentional with focusing on how we can help others in a way that my daughter can participate in and has meaning to her. I was inspired by The Imagination Tree's Kindness Elves idea. I already had an angel doll so adapted the idea to what I had. There is no way I could fit it in every day in December so I have written in one or two activities each week that the Kindness Angel will ask my daughter to do. They mostly involve helping or making gifts for people that she knows and contributing to food hampers that our church gives out. There are so many ideas out there for this.
Those three areas are what we will focus on as a family. Last year I included Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. I quickly realised that my daughter is just too young. I have put our copy away for when she is older. If you have older children (maybe 7 years old plus) I would highly recommend this book. I am looking forward to using it in future years.
What Advent plans do you have for this year? I am so excited and can't wait for next weekend to dive in.