Note: there are affiliate links in this post. This list has been updated for 2013.
Today I’m talking about Advent and some simple ways to count the days before Christmas.
It doesn’t take too many days of using an Advent calendar for even young kids to start to understand the idea of a count-down. The simple, repeated act – be it opening a drawer on an heirloom calendar to reveal a surprise or tearing the next link on a paper chain every day – is a fun way for kids to mark the passage of time.
Are you looking for some ideas for observing Advent this year? I’ve rounded up more than 20 of my favorite ideas for you to choose from.
One reminder: keep it simple! Pick the single idea that speaks to you this year. This is a time to let go of the excess and keep things sincere and focused, not overwhelming. So this is me formally giving you permission not to do it all.
20+ Ideas for Advent (for kids and for parents)
- The Martin & Sylvia Audio Advent Calendar ::: Sparkle Stories (new for 2013)
- Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar printable ::: Christmas Your Way
- Christmas Street: Printable Christmas Advent Calendar ::: Mr. Printables
- Charlie & Noel: An Advent Calendar Story by Franziska Macur ::: kindle ebook
- Free Printable Personalized Christmas Advent Calendar ::: Living Locurto
- The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp ::: I’ll be reading this in 2013 and am really looking forward to it after hearing Ann speak at Allume this past fall.
- Christmas Countdown for Slackers ::: Filth Wizardry
- Seeking the Light and the Warmth with Advent (and instructions for a neat Advent calendar) ::: Our Big Earth
- Adverbs of Advent: Daily Devotions for Children and Their Families ::: Kindle edition by David Mead I’m using this with Jillian, my sixth grader, in 2013.
- Wall Pocket Advent Calendar Tutorial ::: The Crafty Crow
- Printable Christmas Activity Chain ::: Life As Mom
- Santa’s Beard Christmas Count Down printable ::: Inviting Printables
- Books (and more books!) for Advent and Christmas ::: In the Heart of My Home
- Envelope Advent Calendar ::: Martha Stewart
- The Truth is in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands ::: use coupon code SIMPLEKIDS20 for 20% off ebook.
- An Easy No Frills Advent Calendar ::: Simple Mom
- A Child in Winter: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany with Caryll Houselander
::: devotional book I’ve used over the years
- Ali Edwards’ December Daily Project
- Advent: Lighting a Path to Christmas ebook ::: Seasons of Joy
- 24 Christmas Books and Activities to Go With Them ::: The Crafty Crow
- Advent Spiral ::: In these Hills
- An Artful Advent Calendar ::: The Artful Parent
- 25 Christmas Books for Kids ::: Here Come the Girls
- An Advent Reading Plan with The Jesus Storybook Bible ::: Adriel Booker This is what we’ll be following with the youngest kids in 2013.
And if you’re looking for some more ideas for sharing this season with your children, but the idea of a daily activity is a bit daunting, I have a few suggestions for that as well …
Simple yet sweet seasonal ideas that don’t have to be done daily:
- Celebrations of Light, a Wintertime Family eguide from A Natural Nester and friends is new this year (2013) and I’m honored to be a contributor.
- My kids and I have printed out this Nativity Set from Christmas Your Way to color.
- I really love this Christmas Eve Surprise Box from The Imagination Tree. What a neat holiday tradition!
- Speaking of simple holiday traditions, why not begin to write your child a letter every year at Christmas time? Life as Mom has a printable you can use.
If the thought of coming up with 24 different ideas or activities is overwhelming just pick one thing, like reading a book together or eating dinner by candlelight, and do that one thing for 24 days.
Again, friends, I strongly encourage you to keep it simple. Being mindful of your time with your child, being grateful for the season isn’t something that needs bells and whistles. It just calls for mindfulness and your presence. Let the rest just be the icing on the Christmas cake.
Every year how our family observes Advent seems to vary depending upon what season of life we’re in. Have a new baby in the house and zero free time on my hands? Those years usually find our family with a purchased Advent calendar or maybe even no daily Advent calendar at all. Have a little extra time and energy on my hands this seasons? Then we have a pretty crafty Advent. (Hello, Pinterest!)
Last year (2012) I created a simple paper bag Advent calendar for the children. I used brown paper lunch sacks and doodled the days with a green felt tipped marker. Inside of each bag was either a small treat (x4) or a piece of paper with a little note suggesting an activity.
My list had things on it like:
- make paper snowflakes
- drink cocoa from our Christmas mugs
- read The Tomten and the Fox
- bake cookies
- participate in our local charity toy drive
- call Grandma and Grandpa and sing Jingle Bells
- go for a drive to look at holiday lights
- take a picture in our Santa hats (the sillier, the better!)
- make real eggnog
- feed the birds
- color a picture using only red and green crayons
- watch A Charlie Brown Christmas
Does your family have any Advent traditions? If you observe Advent, what will these days look like for you and your kids?