24+ Family Advent Activities

Today marks the first day of Advent, the Christian season of preparation for Christmas.

Growing up, I remember our family Advent wreath and calendar on a short coffee table in the living room. Each night, we would light the appropriate purple and pink candles, open a door of the Advent calendar to read the day’s Bible verse and fight over the small piece of chocolate inside, then say a prayer and take turns blowing out the candle.

It was a pretty classic tradition and one that has stuck in my memory. Now that Sweet Boy is 4, I wanted to create our own version that he, too, could remember.

The first step was to make an Advent wreath. Space in our current home is at a premium, so I decided against the traditional. Instead, I took a cue from this idea found on Pinterest, repurposing peanut butter jars, dollar store pebbles, twine and candles. I chose red for the Christ candle and white for the others — not necessarily traditional, but easier to find and also, I think, attractive.

For the Advent calendar, I wanted to avoid the chocolate-filled doors. One, because Sweet Boy is pretty susceptible to sugar highs, and nightly chocolate would not make for a peaceful Advent in our home. And two, because I didn’t want him anticipating the nightly candy reward but the deeper magic of the Christmas season. (I think it might be pregnancy and the sentimental desire to give him extra attention this year before he loses his Only Child status, but I really, really have wanted to play up all the magic of the holiday this year.)

I decided the Christmas countdown could come in simple envelopes to open each evening. Inside each one is a piece of the Christmas story, along with a preview of the next day’s special activity. The latter took a lot of planning — I sat down in mid-Thanksgiving to figure out what activities would make sense each day, and I’ve already had to rearrange a couple — but the benefit is that we won’t be rushing to cram things in; we have a plan.

We started a little early, because there are so many great activities taking place over the Thanksgiving weekend (which I would much rather use for Christmas fun than Christmas shopping!). Some are simple, like watching traditional Christmas movies, while others are bigger, like taking a ride on a local Christmas train. Some are simple fun, like making cookies, while others are about finding the true meaning of the season, by going to church or putting together gift boxes for local children in foster care. But every one is about building the anticipation and magic as we recognize the true meaning of the season.

Here’s a peek at our Advent activities, some of which I’ll blog more about this month:

Wednesday, Nov. 27 — ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo

Thursday, Nov. 28 — Thanksgiving with the family

Friday, Nov. 29 — City Christmas Tree Lighting

Saturday, Nov. 30 — Decorate the Christmas tree

Sunday, Dec. 1 — Make presents and cards for teachers

Monday, Dec. 2 — Write a letter to Santa Claus

Tuesday, Dec. 3 — Spray snow on the windows

Wednesday, Dec. 4 — Christmas pancakes for dinner

Thursday, Dec. 5 — Make a paper garland countdown to Christmas travel

Friday, Dec. 6 — Watch “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”

Saturday, Dec. 7 — Visit Santa and the local Christmas light parade

Sunday, Dec. 8 — Sort toys to identify giveaways

Monday, Dec. 9 — Read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Tuesday, Dec. 10 — Make Welcome Boxes for foster children

Wednesday, Dec. 11 — Make Christmas cookies

Thursday, Dec. 12 — Pre-make thank you cards

Friday, Dec. 13 — Watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

Saturday, Dec. 14 — Ride a Christmas train

Sunday, Dec. 15 — Listen to Christmas music during bathtime

Monday, Dec. 16 — Make thumbprint snowmen

Tuesday, Dec. 17 — Watch the Christmas ships

Wednesday, Dec. 18 — Make reindeer bait

Thursday, Dec. 19 — Make paper snowflakes

Friday, Dec. 20 — Watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Saturday, Dec. 21 — Have a living room campout by the Christmas tree

Sunday, Dec. 22 — Go to local church

Monday, Dec. 23 — Read the story of Jesus’ birth

Tuesday, Dec. 24 — Red “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Wednesday, Dec. 25 — Christmas

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