Monday, November 9, 2009

Advent Prep: Fun for the Kids

We try to make Advent it's own special season in our family, and not just a month of Christmas-based excitement. For us, the key to this is to combine Christmas-anticipation with some simple traditions that keep our minds and hearts rightly focused.

Here are some simple things we do. (Remember, you do not need to do everything every year... some things make good annual traditions, and some things work for a season or two and then need a break).

  • Prayer Chain Countdown: We've done this one every single year since BigBro was a toddler. We make a simple paper chain (or three, as the case is now), with one link for every day in Advent. Last year, we used purple and pink construction paper to match the chains with the candle colors in our Advent wreath. Each child writes names of people they love on the paper slips before they are curled into the chain. Every night of Advent, we remove one link from each of the chains, and include those people in our family prayers.

  • Advent Calendars: Whether homemade, scripture-based, or chocolate-filled, what child doesn't love the thrill of opening a new box every day? We always end up with multiple variations of Advent calendars every year, and they are always a lot of fun.

  • Advent Wreath: We have a very simple Advent wreath that sits on our dining room table. Every night of Advent, we light the candles before dinner. After dinner, we share a short prayer time (including the intentions from our prayer chains), and then the best part: the kids get to blow out the candles. (Though, this year, I found a cute little candle sniffer on clearance, and am looking forward to the fun of watching them snuff out the candles as opposed to blowing hot wax on their sibs!)

  • Activity Books: We supplement our religion program every December with these fun and inexpensive activity books from Pflaum. They have a simple scripture verse and a fun activity for every day of Advent. You don't have to homeschool to enjoy these books with your kids.

Next week, I'll mention a few more things we've tried (or at least considered trying) with our kids.

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