Are you already overwhelmed thinking about all you have to do for the holidays? I know I am!
This week we are so busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, but at the same time, I need to get ready for the Advent season which this year starts on Sunday, December 2nd. There are so many ideas out there on how to celebrate Advent and Christmas – it’s easy to feel lost and want to do everything but I know it’s not possible.
My kids are ages four and one. After reading through A LOT of ideas, I wanted to be more intentional and keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus instead of on Santa Claus, presents and all the commercial aspects of Christmas.
Here is what I am planning to do with the kids this year and how I will be explaining the meaning of Advent to my four year old.
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How to explain Advent to kids
What is Advent?
Advent is a word that means “coming”. A long time ago, Jesus came into the world as a little baby so that he could grow into a man and die for us. We celebrate his birth on Christmas day! During Advent, we are waiting and preparing our hearts for Jesus as we remember that one day Jesus will come again.
How do we celebrate Advent?
We celebrate Advent by counting down the days or weeks to Christmas day. As Catholics, we traditionally celebrate with an Advent wreath that has four candles – three purple and one pink. Each Sunday, we will light the candles one at a time. We light the candles because Jesus is the Light of the World! The world was lost in the darkness of sin but Jesus came as a light to shine on all of us because God loves us so much.
My Pre-Advent Checklist
Decide if you want to make or buy an Advent wreath. I made a post on How to Decorate an Advent Wreath!
- Many people buy and roll their own beeswax candles every year. This can be a fun activity to do with the kids. You will also need the Advent wreath candle holder.
- If you can’t find pink or purple candles, you can easily wrap white candles with colored ribbon. Then set it on a pretty plate or charger and decorate the plate with some tree trimmings or Christmas picks.
- I saw this beautiful gold candle holder from Target and thought it would be perfect to keep as something to reuse every year. Add the tall Advent candles (much cheaper at Hobby Lobby in-store!) and decorate with tree trimmings or Christmas picks.
- Don’t forget to print out an Advent wreath blessing and the weekly prayers to do with the candle lightings.
Consider adding the pieces of the nativity at different times to signify the story of Christmas as it gets closer to Christmas day. We will save baby Jesus for Christmas.
- I’m making the Nativity Peg Dolls from Catholic Icing and will make a post about it. The simple directions say “just paint the heads and decoupage the rest!” so we will see how it goes. This is something I will have to do in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I am looking forward to reusing this every year.
- The nativity peg dolls are fun to play with but I also might purchase the Little People Nativity Playset for my toddler.
- As a fun nativity activity, I will be printing these DIY Nativity Scene coloring pages out from Catholic Icing. You can cut and glue them onto toilet paper rolls for a fun craft for the kids.
- And don’t forget to print out the Blessing of the Creche.
The Jesse Tree is a fun educational tradition to learn about Jesus’ family tree through Bible readings. It’s a daily activity that starts on December 1st and ends with the birth of Jesus. To me, this pretty much serves as an Advent calendar since it counts down to Christmas day.
- You will need a tree of some kind. We will be using a small mini tree to hang the Jesse ornaments.
- You will need Jesse tree ornaments one for each day, which symbolizes the story that leads up to Jesus’ birth. You can either make or buy these ornaments. I purchased the printable 3-D Jesse Tree ornaments. You can print out the black and white version to color or the digitally colored version and just cut and assemble together! It comes with everything you need including the bible readings for each day. This will be a fun activity for my crafty four year old to do.
Display an empty Manger for Jesus. Emphasize that the manger is empty because we are waiting for Jesus’ birthday! Have a stack of straw or yarn on the side. Every time someone does a good deed or a sacrifice, they can add a piece of straw to make a soft bed for Jesus to lay in on his birthday.
Slowly I would like to start building a collection of Christmas books and then keep them in a Christmas book basket so that we can read one (or a few) every night in December. Some families wrap a book for each day in December but I don’t think I will have time to wrap this year…
I usually start at the library for age-appropriate books to see if we like them before purchasing. I tend to look for books that focus more on the story of Christmas than the secular stories.
What are your favorite Christmas books? I would love to know!
Plan for Advent Feast Days
There’s a lot of feast days during the season of Advent. It is very tempting to want to do them all but I need to be realistic! Start thinking about which ones you will have time for. (This is not a comprehensive list).
- December 6 – St. Nicholas – Read St. Nicholas stories. Leave out shoes and fill with treats.
- December 7 – St. Ambrose – Decorate the Christ candle.
- December 8 – Immaculate Conception (Holy Day of Obligation)
- December 9 – St. Juan Diego – Make a paper bag tilma
- December 12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe – Have a Mexican feast
- December 13 – St Lucy – Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
Here’s a recap:
- Decide if you want to make or buy an Advent wreath.
- Print out an Advent Wreath Blessing and the weekly prayers.
- Display a Nativity Scene
- Print out a Blessing of the Creche
- Decide if you want to make or buy Jesse Tree ornaments
- Display an empty manger for Jesus
- Make a Christmas book basket
- Plan for Advent Feast Days
I know there will be other things that I will need to do to prepare for Advent but these are my initial thoughts.
How are you preparing for Advent with your kids? I would love to see your suggestions and ideas in the comments below!
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