Advent has been a small celebration in my house in past years, but this year we are joyfully anticipating Christmas season way earlier than normal. I think 2020 and an election have a lot to do with it. I’ve already told my kids we’re going to make a Christmas bucket list soon, and it’s gotten me thinking about making advent a really special tradition for us this year.
I want to put an intentional focus on waiting, expecting, and longing for Jesus’s birth, and there’s no reason to wait until after Thanksgiving this year. Let’s celebrate Jesus now. We need it.
So here are some great advent resources and advent gifts that can help you make this time at your house special too.
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Start your morning with tea & a mug that puts you in the Christmas spirit
Counting down the days till Christmas morning with these festive advent calendars from Pukka (my favorite tea brand) sounds perfect to me. Of course, you could pick a coffee advent calendar or hot chocolate advent calendar too.
Play Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God Christmas album all month long
In my family’s opinion, this is the greatest Christmas album of all time and should be listened to on repeat from Thanksgiving on. If you haven’t heard this epic retelling of the story of God, from Genesis to Christmas, stop what you’re doing and download it now.
Find an excellent advent book to guide you
I have three advent books on my to-read list this year. First, is Scott Erickson’s Honest Advent: Awakening to the Wonder of God-with-Us, Then, Here, and Now. The foreword is by Morgan Harper Nichols, possibly my favorite follow on Instagram for her beautiful and inspiring words and art. It’s separated into 25 daily readings for advent.
Shadow and Light: A Journey Into Advent by Ash Oxenreider calls us to slow down and really focus on the season. If you’re tempted to busy yourself with plenty of good things during this time of year, this will remind you of what really matters. Each day’s reading includes Scripture and a reflection, and a simple action (like, lighting a candle) to center you each day.
Next is Russ Ramsey’s Behold the Lamb of God book, which is deeply grounded in Scripture and traces the story of our redemption—from the garden to the manger to the glory of eternity. It’s arranged in daily readings and is appropriate for you to read aloud with your kids, too.
Form the rhythms of advent with an advent candle wreath
Find an advent wreath or candle holder that fits your taste, and light it as a family while you read the Scripture each night. It may become one of your favorite traditions.
We struggled to find a great one on Amazon (although this Byzantine cross candle holder isn’t bad, and they have plenty of advent candles.) But there are lots of creative advent wreaths on Etsy that are affordable, like this simple Danish style wooden candle holder made in Germany or this minimalist candelabra from Spain (shown).
Create fun memories for your kids
One year during advent I wrapped all our children’s Christmas books in festive wrapping paper, and each night of advent they’d open a different one to read at bedtime. It was such a fun experience! We also make sure to read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever aloud at night each year, load up in our PJs with hot chocolate to see the lights, and bake cookies, of course.
You can create a bucket list must-do activities before the holiday is over, or you could buy a copy of Christmas is Coming!, which has fun but very simple activities—think, make hot chocolate or sing a song—to do each day.
Follow a daily Scripture-reading calendar
To keep your family on track with your advent readings each day, this lovely handmade Advent Scripture calendar at Ruminate by Rachel makes a sweet gift for your children. Trust me, they’ll beg you to be the ones to read the verse each day, and this nice wooden easel makes it easy to set up on your mantle or a bookshelf.
Help the kids keep advent with a Jesse Tree
When my kids were in preschool, I started my own DIY Jesse Tree so we could read our advent verses each day and put the ornaments on the tree. But, about halfway through I got overwhelmed with my Christmas to-do list and quit. This handmade Jesse Tree at Rosewood Sign is very affordable, yet could still be an heirloom for your kids one day. (That said: If you’d prefer, there are plenty of DIY Jesse Tree kits on Etsy too.)