Our Advent Traditions.

December 3, 2017

I love how many of you who visit each day are from different countries and different faiths! I appreciate that from time to time you graciously allow me to share tidbits of mine. This season of Advent before Christmas is one I look forward to all year because it is filled with traditions, preparation, hope, and the chance to start anew. I wanted to share a few of these advent traditions with you in case you were also hoping to find renewal in this season on your own or with your family.



Christmas Book Advent Calendar – We put away all the Christmas books each year so that they are like new come December. Jolly old St. Nicholas always brings a few new ones to add to the mix. A few years ago I started wrapping them up and adding numbers to them to unwrap one for story time each night. I saw this idea a while ago from a swedish blog (wish I could remember where!). It gave them something fun to look forward to, without blowing through all the books in one day. Although I legitimately feel too lazy to wrap 25 books this year, so unless an elf shows up at my door, we may just leave them in a basket by the fireplace. So here’s an old pic of our first one. I’ve linked some favorite books here as well for all ages.
Books for a christmas book advent calendar:




Advent wreath and readings – Each night we try to gather as a family right after dinner to read a short scripture verse around our lighted advent wreath and nativity scene (purple is a symbol of royalty and pink is a symbol of hope) . We use this calligraphic card pack that has a verse on the back of each illustrated number. We displayed as a tree last year, and this year I just stacked them by the wreath. Gabriel and Veronica take turns reading each night. It’s only a few minutes, but it always sparks questions about the Christmas story. (Our simple advent wreath is just faux eucalyptus garland around a gold wreath candle holder + advent candles.)


The Giving Manger –  I wasn’t sure how my little ones would respond to this a few years ago when we started this tradition. I was blown away by how eager they were to do acts of kindness and service to fill the manger with hay. This comes with a book that explains the meaning behind doing small things as gifts to Jesus. It keeps our thoughts focused on the fact that it is His birthday, and every thing we do for others makes more room in our hearts for more love.


Advent Chains – This is one I have done since I was a little girl. There are several ways to make and do them! My mom would have a bunch of ideas in a jar we could pull out and try to do that day before taking an advent chain ring off. I have also done it just as a countdown chain till Christmas. This year, Veronica’s teacher made a printable that we could print on paper and cut into strips. Each strip had an act of service or kind deed to challenge the students to do that day. Of course Max and Gabriel wanted in on it too so we made a few;)



Sunday craft – I always pin an abundance of ideas of what I would love to do with my kids through December, and I always feel deflated at the end of the month for the lack of craftiness that was accomplished. So to be perfectly honest with myself this year my goal was simplified to one Christmas craft a week….on Sundays our dedicated day of rest. This is also comical because who actually feels like crafts with kids are restful? No one. I wanted them to be homemade gifts we can send to their cousins and grandparents.

I was so exuberant that we finished the first one….cinnamon scented no bake ornaments. We had them out to dry after they painted them, and that afternoon I found them all broken into one hundred pieces. Some busy little hands found the opportunity to irresistible to pass up. (ahem Rocco)

These are just a few ideas, but if you haven’t done a darn thing for advent or Christmas yet, I’ve been there many times. Sometimes life has seasons of being so full, that adding anything extra seems overwhelming. Make your own traditions in your own capacity and your family will love them because they came from you! I am motivated by my children who remind me many times to pull out the books and the manger and such, because they get so excited about familiar traditions. Little things are such a big deal to them. I would love to hear about the ones you all do in your own homes across the globe!

Happy Advent!

*Most of our decorations are from last year, but here are some similar village houses for the mantel!


Leave a Comment

  • Oh my—that is too bad about your ornaments but also a little funny! I just made some with friends yesterday, and my two year tried to eat them! They look suspiciously like cookies. I love your advent traditions!

  • Your Christmas decor is on point! ❤
    These photos give me such a warm feeling! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • I feel warm reading about your family tradition 🙂

    p.s : I love your decoration!

  • You are a talented decorator!

    So many great ideas here to make a home look festive and stylish for the holidays. I especially love your nativity scene!!!

    Thanks for sharing ways to make Christmas a sweet and memorable time for everyone.

  • Anna, you are a mom after my own heart! I did many of these same traditions with our children as they grew and loved it all! In fact, I still add to our Christmas book collection just because I love children’s books and perhaps I will have little people once again to snuggle and read with. One year, we read the daily advent book “Jotham’s Journey” which led to us reading one of it’s sequels, “Bartholomew’s Passage”. They follow a child on an adventure-filled journey that ends at the manger. Another of our favorites was “A Christmas Miracle for Jonathan Toovey”. Blessings to you and your family during this holy season of anticipation and celebration of our Savior’s birth!

    • I appreciate those recommendations so much! I look forward to checking them out:) I look forward to adding a book to our stack every year. Have a wonderful Christmas season!

  • Thank you for the inspiration! I love the idea of the Giving Manger and the Christmas Advent cards. As I get older, I yearn for Christmases more focused on Jesus, giving, and sharing. Your blog just helped me get that start! Thank you for sharing.

  • These are such neat ideas!!! I think I’m totally going to use your idea of making special crafts on Sundays-what a cool way to get those crafts done and practice Sunday leisure! I love Advent & Christmas, and I like to say that our biggest tradition around this time is flexibility, because in our 4 1/2 years of marriage, we’ve spent this season in different states, different homes, and with different schedules from one year to the next. So the specifics of what we do when always changes, and some years we try new things (there was one year when we participated in 1 night of the Las Posadas celebration with a local order of Hispanic religious sisters). A pretty big constant for us though is that each year at the beginning of Advent, we set up our shepherds and empty manger in one place, and then set up Joseph and Mary with a donkey further away. Throughout Advent, we slowly move the Holy Family closer and closer to the manger, and on Christmas Eve they arrive at the manger and we put Jesus out. It’s a pretty fun way to see and think about the journey of Advent, and it’s something I grew up doing so it’s fun to continue this small tradition on my own family now 🙂

  • These are beautiful pictures and memories shared! These are the exact traditions we have done with the exception of a Jesse tree a few years (which the littles thought was fun! I agree that some years things don’t happen everyday or exactly right on the first day of Advent. Our Christmases’ aren’t perfect or ideal each year much like the first Christmas. And that’s OK. A few things. I read through
    some comments and yes, you must check out
    Jotham’s Journey and that series. We are on the throes book this year and our children love them. My oldest was 7 when we started and we just read them with the older two and this year have added in our third born who is 5. The readings from the story can be intense so just keep in mind. Also last year I bought the Christmas miracle of Jonathan Toomey for their new picture book and loved it. You can actually find the audio of it for free online so your kids could listen to it now 🙂 I did my son’s class party last year at school and they listened while they waited for the bus at the end of the party and they loved it. The movie is great too ❤️ I came across this idea this year and we are going to try…a shepherd’s dinner under the tree inn Christmas Eve. A simple meal of finger foods and maybe soup and then you can read or have everyone memorize verses of Luke 2 and say it at the supper. I told the kids my idea and challenged them to memorie the 20 verses splitting it up among the 5 of us who can talk 🙂 I just came across this idea a few days ago so I said I knew it didn’t slow much time. Our 8 year old knocked my socks off and started reciting verses 8-20 nearly perfectly like he was a shepherd there that night! I couldn’t believe it! They had memorized it as a surprise. You see this is one of those “Christmas” for me where things are more hit or miss because of first trimester sickness with baby 5. God is so gracious to meet us in our weakness as Mamas and to use our feable efforts to point our children to the great news which is for all people!

    • Wow this is so profound! Children have this beautiful ability to make Christmas real for us who have gotten weary or may need some renewal. I love that verse tradition so much and it is motivating me to try it. Thank you Ashley!

  • Anna, I love the idea of the Advent cards with the verse on the back, It’s a beautiful reminder of the Christmas season. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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