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I never used to pay much attention to Advent. I didn’t buy an Advent calendar or engage in any other traditions, apart from putting up our Christmas tree at the beginning of December. My daughter changed that for me. Last year, we used a Little People Nativity set to go through the Christmas story each night with our then two year old. I heard of some other Advent activities that interested me. I figured that three years old would be a good age to start setting up some new Advent traditions that intentionally focus on Jesus in the Christmas season. My husband and I had already made the decision not to do Santa with any children we had before I was even pregnant. This does make it easier to keep the focus on Christ, in my opinion.
I have been so excited to start Advent this year. I have been thinking about it for a few months and have put together a plan in the past couple of weeks of what I want to do. I was thrilled when one of my favourite writers, Ann Voskamp, put out a family version of her Advent devotional complete with ornaments that the kids can colour to go along with it. This was quickly added into my plans!
Unwrapping The Greatest Gift-
This will be the largest part of our Advent time. This book is beautifully illustrated and written focusing on Jesus’ lineage and the lead up to the Christmas story. There are printable ornaments that Isabel can colour in while I read. She is younger than the recommended age so I’m not sure if she will engage fully with it but it will be a start. Ann Voskamp has recently released some extra freebies to celebrate Advent with. I am putting each ornament into a little envelope for Isabel to unwrap each day. We will then hang it on a little Christmas tree. I was originally planning to do this each evening after dinner. I am wondering if mornings might be better though as our evening routine is fairly full and it can often be a grumpy time of day!! This devotional will be our daily focus time on Jesus.
Last year I fell in love with the idea of the Kindness Elves on The Imagination Tree blog. The idea is to encourage kids to think of others instead of themselves in this usually selfish season. I had seen pictures of the Elf on a Shelf craze but didn’t like the philosophy behind it so this was a welcome idea. I knew that last year would not have worked with Isabel’s age. I was so determined to start this as a tradition that I even bought an elf doll on clearance at the beginning of the year. I have since changed this to be a Kindness Angel instead of the Elf as it felt random and out of place without the Santa traditions accompanying them. Going against my natural inclination to go completely overboard and putting pressure on myself, I made a plan to only do 2-3 Kindness Angel activities per week. I made a list of ideas that I thought would be suitable and spread them over my Advent planner. I will be posting pictures on Instagram of what we do (follow me here if you are interested) and will attempt to get some blog posts up too.
Truth in the Tinsel–
Another wonderful resource that I was keen to look into was the Truth in the Tinsel e-book that gives you an ornament to make each day with your child in relation to a Bible passage about the Christmas story. It even gives you ideas of how to discuss each concept with small children. The ornaments are so creative. There are also printable ornaments for sale for those days that creating an ornament seems impossible. My natural tendency was urging me to dive right in but I knew that this would create extra stress for me- the opposite of my intention. I have chosen a few key ornaments and parts of the story to do over the season. If I have extra time that needs filling, I know exactly where I’ll be looking for other ideas! You can purchase a copy here.
These are the key elements of my Advent plan. I will admit that I have created a table detailing the activities I plan to do for each day of Advent. This may seem like overkill, but I know myself. I will let too many days of Advent pass by if I am not intentional in making a plan. I know that it is unlikely that we will end up following this to the letter and I will be flexible but I have a framework to start with.
Behind all of these plans is a heart to honour Jesus and who He is. Christmas is so commercialised and chaotic and I refuse to give in to this. I want my daughter to know exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I want to pass on the passion I have in treasured family memories.
For me personally, I will be using the Advent study that I talk about in this post. The countdown is on and I am so excited to see how Isabel engages this year.
What are your Advent plans?