Advent Roundup: Practices, Books, Activities and Gifts to Create Meaning at Home

Advent snuck up on me this year! I can’t believe it. It means my baby daughter is almost one year old! Wow! I’m glad to be able to get you this Advent roundup just in the nick of time.

This list is, in no way, exhaustive, but it’s a list of my favorite ideas for taking Advent out of the realm of buying and traditional gifting and into a place of deeper meaning and focus on that which is important. I hope you’ll find it to be both inspiration and full of permission. That is, when the stores and commercials and peer pressure make you think that the way to be a good parent is to give shiny things, you might be able to think “Yes, but there’s also another way…”

In an attempt to keep this list manageable, I’ll give three ideas for each. Yay for the perfect number of three!

Practices

If you’ve been hanging around this site for any length of time at all, you know that practices are my favorite. By practice I mean something that is repeated at regular intervals (usually daily or weekly) to deepen spiritual growth and focus. Taking up a spiritual practice during a season like Advent is a perfect way to “try one on” with a clear start and end date. Here are some I recommend:

  1. Fasting A couple of years ago I wrote about using the spiritual practice of fasting during Advent. Though we often associate fasting with Lent, I think Advent lends itself to fasting for different reasons. I especially recommend fasting during Advent for those who are finding this Advent to be challenging for one reason or another.
  2. Gratitude is a practice to take up anytime of the year, particularly Advent. Make a paper chain this advent where each link is something you’re grateful for. Watch it grow and decorate your house.
  3. Compassion and Service during advent as a practice can be life changing. I have an Advent calendar that focuses on this, but you can just as easily make a list of the ways you’d like to serve others this Advent and begin going through them one at a time.

Books

  1. The Song of the Stars – Poetic and beautiful and beloved by many. This one does not disappoint. Its perspective is that of creation waiting for the arrival of the baby Jesus. Lovely!
  2. Christmas Love Letters from God – I’ve talked about Glenys Nellist’s books many times before, and with good reason. I just love them. One of my favorite features of this book is that each page is a sort of “stand alone” story which makes it great to read through over time.
  3. Room for a Little One – A lovely story that focuses on the nativity through a variety of animal perspectives.

Faith Activities

Spending time together during Advent doing activities that teach some of the basic principles of faith is a wonderful way to make memories during the season, pass on faith, and spend time together. Here are three of my favorites!

  1.  Make an Advent Wreath and light the candles every day at dinner, or on Sunday evenings at home. Week one starts with the first candle, HOPE. Week two, is PEACE. Week three is JOY and week four is LOVE. Pinterest and Google are your friend for more examples than you ever wanted, but some of my favorites are: THIS crafty one from Jerusalem Greer, THIS simple design with votive candles (could be painted or unpainted.)  and  THIS no fuss budget version from Build Faith. The Build Faith version has words you can say around the table if you like. I also like the idea of using tea lights, as the photo above shows.
  2. Make a Jesse Tree – There are so many different ornaments, patterns, and guides for this online. THIS one from the RCA is a great place to start, but I recommend using whichever guide or style suits your family most.
  3. Do a Faith Practices Advent Calendar  – I’ll give a shout out for the one I created, of course! But you could make your own.

Gifts

Many churches have alternative gift markets or ways to highlight giving that go beyond a tangible product that can be broken or collect dust. Instead of saying no to all gifts, think about ways to give alternative gifts

  1. Give a gift for someone in need. I love these little boxes for kids that teach about a charity while offering them the opportunity to make something.  You could easily make one yourself by looking at this list, or asking around at local charities in your area.
  2. Give the gift of time and connection. Wrap up a certificate promising a nature walk together, quality time together to color or do art, or bake together. Your imagination is the limit!
  3. Give a gift to the earth. Pick up trash, make a bird feeder, or plant trees. Wrap up seeds, or the materials needed to make the feeder, or other earth-based gifts.

What are you doing to celebrate Advent with your family in a way that creates meaning and joy?

One more link. I have loved the graphics, videos and ideas Advent Conspiracy has put out for the last few years and highly recommend this site!

 

 

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