Every year as my children grow, Gabe and I are trying really hard to be more intentional about the traditions we start with them. There were so many for me growing up that I really loved and carried with me, and now I get to pass those along to my little ones as well as start a few new ones.
Since today is the first day of Advent (which means ” coming”…cool right?), we decided to start a new tradition of giving the kids an advent box the night before. Since Advent gives us four whole weeks to prepare for Christmas, I wrote down a bunch of ideas to encourage them to have giving hearts this season and focus on the significance of the Christmas Story. It’s also an awesome opportunity to teach them about patience….waiting for something great. And while my four year old can barely wait a whole 60 seconds for me to give her snack when she requests it, a whole 4 weeks is not in her realm of understanding. I keep having to remind her that no, Christmas is not tomorrow morning. I totally get her in that regard. I don’t want to really wait either and I’d rather party and celebrate now and all four weeks rather than wait for the 12 days of Christmas, but I know I need this time. I really need this time to learn from the journey part. The part of the story where there is a lot of waiting and hoping and praying for the newborn king.
Here is what we put in the advent box:
Ornaments to decorate their little tree
Lights to string across the mantle
The Giving Manger
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (One of the best ways to unfold the story of Christmas. We read this and light an advent candle each night. And here is the book I am reading.)
The Giving Manger comes with the wooden creche, baby Jesus, hay pieces, and a book. For every giving good deed that they do during advent, they get to put a piece of hay in the manger to keep baby Jesus warm. This is a tradition my own mother started when I was young so it holds a lot of nostalgia for me and I was so happy to find the set.
I wasn’t sure how they would respond since there was no sweets or toys involved, but to my surprise they were a few notches above amused and just one or two notches below ecstatic. I’d call it a win.
Here are the items I wrote down for them to choose to do each day:
- Write someone a Christmas card and put it in the mail.
- Make your brother or sister’s bed for them in the morning.
- Donate some coats to the homeless coat drive.
- Make baked goods to bring to our neighbors.
- Say Merry Christmas to someone you don’t know.
- Make some friends at the local nursing home.
- Hold the door open for a stranger when we are out and about.
- Bring somebody special a Christmas tree.
- Make something for the mailman to say thank you.
- Buy and wrap some toys to donate or give some of their own.
- Gather supplies for a Christmas meal to give to the food bank.
- Make a thoughtful gift for their teachers.
- Let someone go in line before them.
Any ideas to add to the list? We are all ears. Also, if you are of a different faith, what are your holiday traditions? I really enjoy hearing about them.
Happy Advent to those who celebrate and cheers the start of the most wonderful time of the year!