Advent activities 2017

Most years at Christmastime, I enjoy putting together an Advent calendar for my family.

The calendar varies from year to year – sometimes I focus on quiet reflection and sometimes on lively activity; sometimes I hang the activities in a long paper chain, or make a poster with flaps that open. I try to create a mix of inward-focused and outward focused ideas (bringing our family joy and bringing joy to others), and I customize it to include the holiday activities already in our plans – like a whole heap of music, as you will see.

Sometimes I try too hard and it stresses me out. But the kiddos and I love having something special to do each day, to build our joy in the coming of Christmas.

Here’s our family’s Advent list for 2017:

  1. Go ice skating as a family.
  2. Cut paper snowflakes.
  3. Attend a candlelit hymn sing.
  4. Prepare a baked item to give to a pastor or teacher.
  5. Create a Nativity scene from an unusual material (marshmallows, snow, metal, paper mache).
  6. Invite guests into our home to sing carols and share a snack.
  7. Make a handprint wreath.*
  8. Make music on stage.
  9. Spend the day with people we love.
  10. Listen to live Christmas music.
  11. Prepare a hot cocoa bar (chocolate spoons, various toppings and dippers).
  12. Make Christmas cards for people who will never give back to us.
  13. Write letters to Jesus.
  14. Play Handel’s Messiah on CD, in its entirety.
  15. Celebrate the birth of a human child.
  16. Drive to look at Christmas lights, with snacks, in our PJ’s.**
  17. Go Christmas caroling.
  18. Spend time praying for needs around the world.
  19. Invite one guest to dinner.
  20. Plan a family cozy night: popcorn, spiced cider, books.
  21. Eat a snowman / gingerbread man lunch.
  22. Watch a Christmas movie.
  23. Read holiday books from the library aloud.
  24. Draw names and give a “certificate of service” to one member of our family.
  25. Give what we have: Gather a basket of household items to share with a neighbor or friend.***

Additional ideas that might still fit into Christmas vacation after the 25th:

  • Care for someone else’s baby.
  • Send mail to cousins and friends.
  • Sing in the streets.
  • Draw names; give each family member $1.06 and take a jaunt to the dollar store for an impromptu mini-gift exchange. (This is my mom’s idea and I think it’s wonderful.)

Do you use an Advent calendar for your family? What simple activities bring you joy in December?


* Trace a handprint from each person in our family, cut out multiples on pretty paper, glue into a wreath with the fingertips facing out.

** The Christmas lights will not be eating our snacks, and our snacks will not be inside our PJ’s. I hope a few well-placed commas made that clear. Also I hope we are not in an accident that night.

*** We plan to gather items we’d like to give away: new soaps, some tea or hot drink mixes, homemade goodies, any household items that come to hand, maybe the piano – I don’t know – and show up at someone’s door with it all in a basket. This will be nicer than it sounds, I promise. If any of you mock me I may show up with it at YOUR door, so there.

32 thoughts on “Advent activities 2017

  1. I like the idea of a calender,but I’ll sleep on some of the ideas. I have an organ I’ll give you to drop off at someone’s house. Or better yet trade it for a basket of goodies!☺

  2. Lovely!! I just used some of your Advent ideas previously written about for a ladies’ chapel tomorrow morning. AND….I’m not doing any mocking!! 🙂 You are more than welcome to show up at MY door! 🙂

  3. I never thought about the Christmas lights eating snacks or anything until you mentioned it and then I had to go back and reread and be humored by the idea. I am doing my first Advent calendar this year and keeping it pretty low key and home-centered. I would like to make this a tradition and add in more other-centered activities as the kids get older. I love some of your ideas.

  4. I want the piano in a basket! 😃
    No seriously, these are all such great ideas. I find myself feeling jaded about all the hype these days, but your thoughtful creativity and enthusiasm are infectious. Thank you!

  5. You might show up at my door? Ha! Loud obvious Mocking taking place. The day you bring it to my door is the day President Trump resigns for backtalking a reporter. Not going to happen. Who needs your soap anyway? Merry Christmas without a knock on the door.

    As a side note I started listening to A Christmas Carol this morning. It is putting me in proper humbug that I am enjoying.

    • I see what you did there. Nice try. Actually I’m so flattered that you want me to come.

      I think what Wendy and I each really want for Christmas is a visit from the other. {HINT} I missed having a Zooks & Zooks gathering this year.

  6. You can show up at our door and we can all sit down for tea and scones! However you would have to drive to AZ to do so. We love to go look at Christmas lights. Some houses can be over the top with lights but we enjoy looking at them anyway. My youngest daughter will be participating in our church Christmas presentation in a couple of weeks. She likes to sing so we are looking forward to hearing her and the teen choir sing. Enjoy your advent activities.

    • No, I’m still looking. When I was a teenager my family loved watching A Christmas Carol each year, and I still love it, but it’s too intense for most of our children. I need to do some looking and researching. What are your favorites?

      • We like The Nativity Story but some scenes might be a bit much for kids under 8 or so. We also usually end up watching The Best Christmas Pageant Ever sometime during the Christmas season. It’s only about 45 min long and I think it’s on youtube

      • Have you ever seen “The Fourth Wiseman”? It has been a long time since I’ve seen it but I remember it as being beautiful and inspiring.

    • I love the old versions of A Christmas Carol. My girls are young adults now and I miss doing the stuff you mentioned. I realized I wrote my question underneath Travis’ reply by mistake instead of starting a new conversation. Sorry about that.
      Wordpress is different from Blogger.

  7. I like your list. I’m trying the advent poster this year for the first time. Our kids have been having a tough time being kind to each other recently. We are doing a service themed one and I’m hoping it helps out those relationships. 🤓 Some days are special events but most are simpler things such as make someone else’s bed, write down three nice things about each sibling, and take candy canes to your classmates. 🙂 They are excited about it.

  8. I forgot to mention, when we lived in Santa Barbara, we used to have fun being secret Christmas friends to a family in need. It was usually a young widow with children or a mom, whose husband abandoned the family.
    I think I figured out the comment thing and changed my settings so if someone clicked my name they won’t get a privacy error.

  9. Great ideas! But what happens in January when all the fun is over and the kids act like popped balloons? (Please excuse the pessimism.)

    • Well, when they scheduled the original Christmas date they did not consult me; if they had I would have recommended the end of JANUARY instead of the end of December. Think about it – we’d have two months to prepare and celebrate instead of one (without overtaking Thanksgiving), and winter would seem far more festive and exciting. Wouldn’t it? Sigh.

      But next year I should try a Backwards Advent calendar – fun things to do for a month *after Christmas. Wouldn’t that be great?

  10. Ok, I get it. I can’t allow bleak January to keep me from celebrating Jesus’ birth in December. BTW, reading this post WAS timely for two reasons: 1). It made me realize that I can either survive Christmas this year or I can celebrate it. 2) It gave me some good ideas for things to do this weekend with the kiddos while hubby is gone. Going to see Christmas lights in pj’s last night was a big hit!

    • Oh good – and I hope you did not feel teased! Though I was laughing, I was also very serious. January to March are the worst months of the year in this household, and we are in constant search of strategies to make wintertime bearable. I can get in survival mode too, and it’s good for me to think outside of the box.

  11. When I read about creating a nativity scene from an unusual material, I remembered that when I was young my family would always carve the nativity scene out of Ivory soap bars. Mom would make us caramel popcorn while Dad and we children carved soap. And we would discuss the Christmas story. 🙂

  12. Thanks for the great ideas! This post inspired me to celebrate the first day of December by having a family evening of baking Christmas cookies and listening to Christmas music. We ended up listening to Libera on YouTube. Beautiful!

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