How do you celebrate advent with your family? We’ve got a list of meaningful resources for advent, including books for advent, advent devotionals, advent calendars, and more!
Growing up I never heard the term advent. If I did, it didn’t stick with me.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in a church service as an adult with a couple of children under my feet that I first heard the word in a way that resonated with me.
Our pastor at the time said this was the first Sunday of the Advent season, and though I was confused by what he meant, I was moved by the reverential reading of the Scriptures and the lighting of the first candle.
I love traditions.
My childhood Christmases were full of traditions.
There was always Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house complete with Russian tea and endless games of Dominos with my cousins, aunts, and uncles.
There was my mom’s homemade candy and the endless mounds of wrapping paper strewn about the house all season long.
There were trips to see Santa and the Nativity Christmas light show.
There were recitals and plays and all the things that made Christmas, well Christmas.
Of course, we were reminded often that Jesus is the reason for the season, and we knew that Santa and presents weren’t the only highlight of the season.
However, I had a hard time reconciling the two, and I often felt guilty that I didn’t think about Jesus more than the presents.
But presents were all we talked about.
As an adult with my own kids, I decided I wanted to think this through a little more – be more intentional about sowing the seeds of celebration of Jesus’ birth into the little hearts left in my care.
I’ve been at this for almost a decade now, and I’m still trying to figure this out.
How can we truly cultivate a heart of worship during the Christmas season when there is so much hustle and bustle?
There in that little carpeted church I felt a nudge in my spirit that said, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
The answer for me was wrapped up in truly understanding that little word: advent.
What is advent?
Advent is the first season of the Christian church year. It’s Christmas and the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.
Advent simply means “coming” in Latin.
As we move into the Christmas season, we use the time to remember Jesus coming to earth as a baby, to live as a man and die for us.
We also remember that after Jesus died and rose again, He told His disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost, they received power to do the work of bringing the message of salvation to all people.
Finally, we also use this time to remember that Jesus is coming again in the future, not as a baby but as King and Judge.
So, advent is a season of remembering that not only did Jesus come as a baby, but we are waiting again with great expectation for His second coming. What a glorious day that will be!
Why does it matter?
Advent matters because we are a forgetful people.
Not only that, but we’re also easily distracted.
Like my childhood, I can still get caught up in the presents and the parties and all the joy of the season (which is just fine by the way), and I can forget to take advantage of the greatest gift of this season – the time set aside to remember!
When does Advent start?
Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This year it begins on December 1st.
What do you do for Advent?
For my family, not only are we looking at all the fun ways to celebrate in the days leading up to Christmas, but we like to make a plan for helping us pursue a heart of worship during the Christmas season…
A plan that will help us take time to remember, give thanks, and focus our hearts on the truth that Jesus is coming back.
Just as we anticipate Christmas morning, we intentionally remind our hearts that we want to anticipate the second coming of Christ just as expectantly.
There are many different ways to usher in the season of Advent, and there really isn’t any one right way to do it.
The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide
If you want some help making an intentional plan for your Christmas season, then checkout The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide.
In The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide, there is a whole section dedicated to: helping you brainstorm Advent, make a list of resources you’ll use, supplies you need, and even space to outline your timeline for the Advent season, so you’ll be sure to keep Christ central all season long.
Click here to learn more and get your Christmas planning guide.
Below you’ll find the best resources we’ve found for ushering in the season of Advent.
This isn’t meant to be a burden, or a list of checkboxes to tick off.
Making a plan for Advent is about giving yourself the intentional focus of anticipation.
What will work best for you? Or if you’re raising a family of your own, what will work best for your family?
Traditions are a way for you to decide what is meaningful for you and your family, and then celebrate it.
And Christmas is definitely a time of celebration!
Here are some Advent ideas to get your mind churning…
Advent Calendars and Countdowns
Our own Intentional By Grace DIY Advent Calendar is a simple craft to make. You could involve the whole family in creating it! And it will be a tradition to use for years to come.
Ever since my first Sunday with an Advent candle lighting and accompanying Scripture reading, this has been my countdown of choice for our family. You just need a pack of Advent candles and a candle holder.
I like to decorate mine with greenery and put a white pillar candle in the middle for lighting on Christmas Day.
Truth in the Tinsel– A great advent countdown for families with small children to go through the story of the Coming King.
Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Resource- Free from Faithgateway– a wonderful printable companion to go with the Jesus Storybook Bible as you read through the Bible as a family through the whole month of December.
The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent– A great option to countdown until Christmas Day! A beautiful book celebrating the Jesse Tree, with 25 ornaments to hang on the tree as you walk through the Bible throughout December.
Picture Books About the Nativity
The Nativity by Julia Vivas – With illustrations that are enchanting and unexpected, Julie Vivas reveals the human side to Mary’s story: beautifully imagining the Angel Gabriel delivering the news to her, the exhausting journey with Joseph to Bethlehem, and at last the deliverance of the baby Jesus.
Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell – A beautiful tale of preparing room for a little one that parallels wonderfully with the need to prepare our hearts for Jesus. This is one of our yearly favorites!
Check out our 25 Christmas Books to Read with Children list for more ideas!
A fun idea I’ve done in the past that my kids enjoyed: Wrap 25 Christmas books and each night open a book and read it together as you countdown the days to Christmas.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu – This devotional can be used by readers in their own personal worship times or as a tool to engage in family worship during the busy holiday season. Either way, participants will gain a greater sense of awe and wonder at who Jesus is.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie – An anthology of Advent readings collected from the writings and sermons of 22 classic and contemporary theologians and Bible teachers.
The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp – Beginning with Jesse, the father of David, The Greatest Gift retraces the epic pageantry of mankind, from Adam to the Messiah, with each day’s profound reading pointing to the coming promise of Christ, so that come Christmas morning you find that the season hasn’t blurred past you but your heart’s fully unwrapped the greatest gift you’ve always yearned for.
Other Great Options for Advent Devotionals:
Family Read-Alouds for Advent
Arnold Ytreeide has written several wonderful books that walk you through the story of Advent. These books are wonderful family read-alouds for Christmas.
Music to Welcome Advent
Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson – This Advent Album is a BEAUTIFUL musical journey that walks you through the birth of Jesus. Inspired by scripture.
Unto Us by JJ Heller – A sweet album to help your family welcome the Christmas season.
The Thrill of Hope (Renewed) – An advent album filled with original songs and Christmas classics to prepare your heart – for “The King is Coming.”
Other Christmas Albums for Families based on Scripture:
Homeschool and Family Advent Curriculum
Morning Time Plans for Advent from A Gentle Feast – 7 Lessons for families with Bible readings, crafts, picture studies, prayers, recipes and more!
The Peaceful Preschool Christmas Guide – Geared toward your 3-5 year old, this is a unit with 4 weeks of multi-sensory activities to introduce Christmas and Advent. It includes poems, books, crafts, and recipes to savor the season.
Unearthing Wonder – a 25 day Christmas devotional guide to accompany the book All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss. The guide includes verses, activities, recipes, and songs that are geared towards helping your family develop meaningful traditions.
Christmas Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers – Our fun round up of simple crafts, recipes and things to do with your 3-5 year olds during the Advent season.
Want to see all of these resources in one easy shopping spot?
Don’t miss The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide!
Make this your best Christmas season yet!
The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide is perfect for anyone who wants to intentionally prepare for Christmas so they can focus on what matters most this season – Christ and His birth.
Whatever season of life you’re in – just getting started in your Christian journey, or been on the path a long time, one child or many, stay-at-home-moms or work-outside-the-home-moms, entrepreneurs, married or not.
The Intentional Christmas Planning Guide is designed with you in mind.
You just need to be ready to stop living in the Christmas chaos, and start making choices according to God’s priorities for you.
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