6 Advent Calendar Ideas to Help You Keep Christ in Christmas This Year
I like using an advent calendar at Christmas to count down the days to Dec 25th. Plus, we always make sure that our advent calendars have a purpose.
But it’s Dec 3rd already! Have you thought about what you’ll do to keep Christ in your Christmas this year?
Here are six different ideas that you could choose from this advent to prepare your children (and family) for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. All of these will enable you to teach Christian theology to your kids over Christmas.
What Difference Did Jesus Make?
So much of our focus at Christmas is anticipating the arrival of Jesus. It struck me that our kids know that Jesus is important, but they may not realize what a striking difference He made to the way in which we have a relationship with God. We decided to try to illustrate this to our kids through a mini (9 day) calendar. It’s perfect for the busy family that can’t always fit in time for a full-sized advent calendar! You can find the instructions here.
Jesus Fulfilled Old Testament Prophecy
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies through his birth, life and death. Jesus – and later his disciples – often used the proof of fulfilled prophecy to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. This is an advent activity designed to introduce children to Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled through Jesus’ birth. Each day, you will learn a new Old Testament prophecy that Jesus fulfilled. Plus, you will learn just how difficult it is to fulfil prophecy on your own.
This calendar is simple to make and do. I had our kids help to make the cards. The specific instructions are here. By Christmas day your children will know that Jesus’ birth was no mere accident or simple undertaking. It involved God in every step.
The Names of God
God uses numerous different names to describe Himself throughout the Bible. It is sometimes easy to forget that the seemingly helpless babe in the manger is also the Almighty God of the Bible. As you anticipate Christ’s birth – ‘God with us’ – learn some of the names God uses to describe who He is.
This website provides a very comprehensive list of the names and titles for God used in the Bible. Choose a few that particularly relate to Christmas or that you would like to focus on this season. Write out these names on fancy paper and affix them to your tree (or a separate tree as illustrated in the picture to the right and described in this post). You could add one new name each day of advent. You could alternatively hang them from your mantle with ribbon as a banner.
The Old Testament Anticipates Jesus’ Birth – The Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree was created as a way to illustrate how the Old Testament anticipates and builds towards Jesus’ birth. The name comes from Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 11:1: “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”
Each day you’ll add a different decoration to your Jesse Tree that represents part of the meta story of God’s plan of salvation through the ancestors of Jesus. The readings each day will illustrate God’s faithfulness to His promises over 4,000 years of history, starting with creation, continuing through the Old Testament, and culminating with Jesus.
Patterns and suggestions for making the Jesse Tree ornaments are here. You can add your decorations to your Christmas tree, or make or buy a separate tree like the beautiful version illustrated above that comes from this blog site.
The instructions for the readings are here. Instead of using their Talk About suggestions, we talked about the link between the story and Jesus (ie: God’s salvation plan). We found that this link was not necessarily explicit in the text provided.
Use December to Build Your Nativity Scene
This one is so simple anyone can do it. Wrap up all the pieces of your nativity set. Hide one each day (or one every few days) somewhere in the house for your children to find. If your nativity set does not have many figurines, you can use some of your Christmas ornaments as well. Hide the figurines so that your kids find and build your nativity scene in the order of the Christmas account (star first, Mary second, then Joseph, next shepherds, etc. – you get it).
Once your children have found the hidden piece of the set on a given day, have him or her explain who/what each figurine represents and how it fits into the Christmas account. Have the final figurine – the one of Jesus in the manger – wrapped under your Christmas tree to be opened as your first present on Christmas morning. Emphasize that Jesus is God’s gift to us at Christmas, and the most important present that anyone will ever receive.
Tales of Christmas Past
Focus on the Family has an interesting looking advent calendar for free download this year. It’s called “Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season”. You can download a poster at ThrivingFamily.com/Advent and follow along through December with Scripture passages and stories each day.
What ever you choose to do, make sure you help your family to keep Christ at the center of your Christmas this year!
Do you have any other ideas to share with us? I’d love to hear about them!