An Advent Full of Jesus

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I am a creature of habit.

For the life of me, I can’t seem to stop dumping all my laundry in together – even though I keep telling myself I need to be a grown-up and start sorting it into somewhat organized piles.

I always put too much nutritional yeast on my popcorn even though I know I’m going to end up with a cup of it in the bottom of the bowl after the popcorn is gone.

And I automatically think of Christmas trees and Santa when someone mentions Christmas. As a child that’s what Christmas was about. Now as an adult converted to Christianity, I want Christmas to be about more than presents under the tree – for my children and me.

What if the Christmas season was actually about Jesus? What if I was intentional in my activities and interactions with my children?

I’ve wanted to do an Advent Calendar since Pinterest was invented. So many beautiful ideas of how to display the countdown to Christmas. So many crafts, elf placement ideas, and ways to decorate cookies for Santa. So much Christmas.

But almost all of it seems to be the Christmas of my childhood. I want a new Christmas. I want a Christmas focused of giving instead of receiving. I want a Christmas focused on showing love and helping others and making memories my children will want to share with their children.

I want a Christmas focused on Jesus.

For all the ideas on Pinterest, bless its little Pentium soul, there just isn’t enough Jesus.

This was what prompted me to come up with my own Advent Activity Calendar. It’s not pretty. It’s not glittery. There are no fancy pouches or doors. I made it out of construction paper and glue and ugly green rope. It doesn’t look anything like the ones I pinned. Somewhere along the line I started caring more about what’s in it than how it’s displayed.

And I’m okay with that.

It’s the start of the Advent season. I’d like to challenge you to put a little more Jesus in there. Below is a list of ideas I’ve come up with. Some are awesome. Some are for days when coloring pictures is all you have energy for. And that’s okay.

Your Advent Calendar doesn’t have to be beautiful or on display. You have my permission to use construction paper and glue. Or simply write ideas on a calendar. In fact, if you like the idea of an Advent Activity Calendar but are intimidated by the commitment, I’m even giving you permission to do just five things a week. Or three. Or one. Quality over quantity, friends. Not much of a scheduler? Print out the ideas that appeal to you and cut them into strips in a jar. Pull one out each day and enjoy the surprise.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it! Include the kids. Get messy. And may this season be full of the most blessed memories of your children’s childhood. May it be full of Jesus.

Advent Activity Calendar Ideas:

Start a list of how Jesus has blessed you. Add to it often.

Make a gingerbread Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (aka gingerbread men in robes)

Make gingerbread house or manger

Make paper snowflakes – read how each real snowflake is made unique

Donate one of your toys to an orphanage/needy family – make sure it’s a good one!

Make Christmas cards

Have a hot chocolate party. Invite friends.

Make Christmas ornaments Make Christmas cookies

Give away Christmas cookies and ornaments

Set up nativity

Visit a nursing home

Get Christmas tree. Talk about how the shape is like the trinity.

Christmas caroling around the neighborhood or the house

Take a meal to someone struggling, or better yet, have them over for a meal.

Help older neighbors with Christmas lights or decorations

Make a Christmas wreath

Make a paper chain – each with a name of Jesus

Send care packages to missionaries

Learn about the real St. Nicholas

Make wrapping paper

Wrap presents

Listen to Christmas music

Write and send anonymous thank-you notes (pastor, Sabbath School teacher, neighbor, etc.)

Read the beginner’s bible Christmas story

Make Christmas play dough – enough to give some to a friend

Shop for a present for a friend or needy family

Open a present early – then write a thank you note

Write a letter to a solider

Make a luminary

Make the “Made by Joel” nativity scene
Or this lovely nativity

Eat snowman pancakes as a family

Do a random act of kindness

Make presents for family

Color Christmas pictures

Read the candy cane story and eat a candy cane

Watch a Christmas movie (The Nativity Story is my favorite!)

Write cards/letters to missionaries

String popcorn and sing Christmas carols

Make a Jesse Tree

Be a secret Santa – don’t let anyone see!

Make and give “blessing bags” for the homeless

Read as many Christmas books as you can find

Hunt for more Christmas books at the library

Share a package of M&Ms. For each M&M say a name of Jesus.

Have a birthday party for Jesus. Don’t forget the cake!

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