The four weeks of Advent are the beginning of the Christian year. Bringing mindfulness and intention to those four weeks helps you create a different holiday season from Christmas … one that prepares you for the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. Advent is quiet, not festive. Simple, not overstuffed. Focused on the spiritual, not the material.
The season is best known for Advent wreathes and Advent calendars. (You can get a Christ-centered calendar in addition to one with toys or chocolates.) Other ideas include:
- Use a creche that you can fill gradually to tell the Christmas story. Week 1: Put up the empty creche. Week 2: Add the animals. Week 3: Add the shepherds and their sheep. Week 4: Add the angel. Christmas Eve: Add Mary and Joseph. Christmas Day: Add baby Jesus. Epiphany: Add the wide men and their camels.
- Wrap 20ish books in Christmas paper, and put them in a basket. You pick out one book per night to read to your children.
- Put out a basket to collect money for a cause during Advent. Keep a list in the basket of all the good deeds that the kids (and you) have done. Discuss the good deeds at Christmas Eve dinner.
- Find Advent playlists on Spotify to find out the difference between Advent music and Christmas music.
- Make or buy consumable gifts, such as food, to reduce clutter and waste.
Once you are in the Advent frame of mind, you can create your own traditions. When my kids were little, we had a small manger and a baby Jesus. When the kids did something nice, they got to put hay in baby Jesus’ manger to make him more comfortable. One year this did result in a hay-throwing situation, but overall it was successful.
Advent is a joyous time of year that prepares you for the Christmas season. Do enjoy it!