Our family kicked off the Christmas season with some Christmas music last night after our Thanksgiving dinner. I’m a big stickler about waiting to celebrate until after Thanksgiving, but once we’ve left Grandma’s house, Thanksgiving is over, right? 🙂
Excited about advent!
When we celebrate advent, we are celebrating the coming of the Messiah. And as believers, we know that one day Jesus is coming again! As I have mentioned in another post, I don’t like to communicate to kids that they need to “choose” between being excited about presents or being excited about Jesus as the real meaning of the season. Of course they are going to be excited about presents! But we can use the anticipating about presents to point them to our anticipation that Jesus is coming again. We can teach our kids that we are excited about giving gifts to each other on Christmas morning, but that material gifts will never truly satisfy us. Our greatest need is not a need for toys under the tree, but a need for forgiveness of our sins and a right relationship with God, which He provides for us through Christ’s death in our place. And yet, the fun of giving and receiving gifts is part of God’s goodness to us as well. Isn’t God good to provide for our greatest need (salvation) and yet to also give us so many fun things to enjoy?
For the past several years, we have enjoyed doing an Advent Tree (also called a Jesse Tree) as a way to be intentional about celebrating the birth of Christ. If you’re not familiar with the concept, an Advent Tree involves doing a daily Bible reading during the month of December as a way to trace the story of creation, the fall of man, the promise of a Savior who would one day crush the serpent’s head, the prophecy of the coming Savior, and the birth of the Savior. It’s very meaningful to study the big picture of the entire Bible during one month! Each day’s reading has a symbol to go with it, which helps the children remember the stories. The “tree” part involves putting each day’s symbol on an ornament to decorate a small Christmas tree.
There are several places to find Advent/Jesse Tree devotions. Two years I decided to write my own, which are available to download and print here: Advent Tree Devotions. Each day includes a short Bible reading, an explanation of the main ideas, and a suggestion for the symbol for the day. You can see a sample in the post.
Advent Tree Ornament Ideas
Keep in mind that the symbols for the ornaments will vary slightly depending on which devotions you are using.
We have done something different every year! I’m not sure why, but I do think it’s fun to involve the kids in creating the symbols each year. The younger ones forget from year to year (and sometimes the big kids too!), and I think that drawing the pictures helps them remember better.
Poster Board Advent Tree – This is one of my favorites. I drew a large Christmas tree on foam board, and covered it with circles numbered 1-25. Then I cut out paper circles. Each day, one of the boys drew the symbol and glued it to the board. This worked well because it served as a count down to Christmas as well! Check out the post for more details.
Salt Dough Advent Tree Ornaments – I love these simple ornaments from In Lieu of Preschool. So sweet and very do-able. Salt dough is very durable and you will be able to use these for several years.
Felt Advent Tree Ornaments – Search Pinterest for “felt Jesse tree ornaments.” There are so many beautiful ideas! If you enjoy crafting, it would be fun to make a set to use each year. Also check Etsy for felt ornaments to purchase if you don’t want to make your own.
Advent Chalkboard Sign – This year, we’re going to try something different! I purchased this small chalkboard from Michael’s for $6.99 and used hot glue to attach a metal clip. We’re going to draw each day’s symbol on an index card and hang it with the clip. Then, we can write a key verse (chosen from that day’s reading) on the chalk board. Owen helped me set up an example:
The symbol is Simeon holding the baby Jesus in the temple, from Luke chapter 2.
Music for the Advent Season
I put together a collection of our favorite Christ centered Christmas songs, which you can find here: Advent Playlist
Don’t forget to check out our Advent Tree Devotions.
What is your favorite way to celebrate a Christ centered Advent with kids?