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In this post: Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas. Learn about Advent Readings, the Advent Wreath, and other ways to celebrate Advent.
The holiday season can be really crazy and overwhelming, but Advent offers a way to appreciate the true meaning of the season. It is a time for reflection and a way to focus on what is really important and true outside of all the shopping, tinsel, and lights. Advent allows an escape from all the hustle and bustle that go along with this time of the year.
One of the best ways to celebrate the Advent season with your family is to start your own simple traditions. The key is finding a few Advent activities that feel right for you and your family. Simplicity in creating your Advent traditions allows you to slow down and genuinely appreciate Advent.
Here are a few simple and meaningful ways to celebrate the Advent season with your family.
What is Advent and Why Do We Celebrate It?
The Advent Season represents the start of a new church calendar (also called a liturgical calendar) and marks the four weeks of celebration and preparation leading up to Christmas and the birth of baby Jesus.
The word ‘advent’ means coming in Latin.
When does Advent Occur?
Advent traditionally begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, making it last for about a month. Although some simply begin on the first day of December and use December 1st to the 24th (Christmas Eve) or 25th (Christmas day) to celebrate – especially when using an Advent Calendar to celebrate – just to simplify and know exactly when to begin.
Here are the next few years’ traditional (based on the four Sundays before Christmas) Advent dates for you:
- In 2022, it begins on Sunday, November 27th, and runs until Saturday, December 24th.
- In 2023, Advent begins on Sunday, December 3rd, and runs until Sunday, December 14th.
- In 2024, it begins on Sunday, December 1st, and runs until Tuesday, December 24th.
- In 2025, Advent begins on Sunday, November 20th, and runs until Wednesday, December 24th.
How Do People Celebrate Advent Season?
Advent is celebrated around the world by Christians everywhere and there are many traditions and ways of celebrating, including some of the following.
01. The Advent Wreath
The Advent Wreath is made of various greens and as a never-ending circle symbolizes the eternity of God and everlasting life because of Christ.
02. Advent Candles
The four Advent candles, each lit on one of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, represent different things each week.
- The first week’s candle, traditionally a purple candle, represents hope.
- The second week, also a purple candle, symbolizes faith.
- The third week’s candle, a pink one usually, represents joy.
- And the fourth week’s candle, a final purple candle, symbolizes peace.
Sometimes the Advent Wreath and Candles are combined on one beautiful display of faith, hope, love, and joy. And sometimes there is a fifth, a white, candle.
03. An Advent Calendar
An Advent Calendar is a way to count down the days until Christmas and build excitement.
There are all sorts of Advent calendars ranging from disposable cardboard calendars filled with small chocolates to more elaborate DIY advent calendars that involve activities instead of treats. We’ll look at several ideas and options in this article.
Typically, Advent Calendars begin on December 1st and go until the 24th or 25th.
04. Other ways to celebrate Advent include:
- putting up a Christmas tree
- listening to music like Handel’s Messiah
- Sunday dinners
14 Practical Ways to Celebrate Advent This Year With Your Family and/or Friends
One of the main things Advent encourages you to focus on is your faith. This can be extremely difficult with everything that goes along with the holiday season. When you should be getting closer to God, the chaos may make you feel like you are farther away. You can remedy this by putting a few simple practices in place to encourage spiritual and inner peace this season.
Make time for daily devotions
We get so busy sometimes that it’s easy to say that we do not have time for anything else. One of the things that we don’t want to be too busy for is daily devotions. Why? Because daily devotions help calm and center us. If you commit just 15 or 20 minutes daily to devotions, you will find that you are better able to deal with the chaos around you – especially during this season of busyness.
One of the best times for daily devotions is early morning before everything becomes so rushed and hurried. Or if you may find that you enjoy winding down before bed with devotionals. Devotions give you time to reflect, focus on, and reconnect with God. When you do so, it’s easier to find peace.
Disconnect from social media
Social media is a wonderful thing. It allows you to reconnect with those you have lost touch with and to reach out to people you ordinarily may have never met. It is a great way to expand your village of caring. However, if you are not careful, it will steal your peace. That’s why it is a good idea to periodically disconnect from social media.
Advent is a great time to distance yourself from social media. Whenever you feel the urge for social media, try something a little different. Read the Bible or a devotional, go for a walk in nature, or call a friend. Take time to REALLY notice what is going on around you and reclaim some peace in your life.
Don’t be afraid to say “no”
If you are someone who cares deeply about others, saying “no” is difficult, even when you know that you are drained and need time for yourself. Advent brings even more obligations, activities, and parties. Get out of the habit of over-committing yourself. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and take time to nourish your spirit and health. Choose to only attend the events that are most important to you.
Cultivate some peace in your life. Remember that you are not obligated to have a packed calendar to enjoy a fulfilling life. Take time to tap into your faith and tune into God.
Focus on the moment
During the busy and sometimes chaotic holiday season, you are more inclined to become lost in the revelry and forget what truly matters. Slow down. Focus on being present in the moments. Gifts, celebrations, and parties are an excellent addition, but Advent invites us to slow down and appreciate the real meaning of the season.
Create (or buy) your own advent wreath with candles
This is really simple – you just need a wreath, three purple candles, and one pink one. Then each week light them in the order listed above.
Devotions are a part of Advent. However, devotions need not be long, drawn-out affairs.
Make your devotions count. Choose devotions that fit your personality and style.
If you know you do not enjoy writing or do not have the time, journals are not likely a good fit. If reading, reflection time, and prayer work better, choose that.
- Buy an Advent devotional (like this one)
- Read Advent devotions as a family
- Sign up for a free devotional message or video
Devotions should enhance your joy, not stress you out.
Set up a nativity scene or visit a living nativity
By having the nativity front and center in your holiday decor, you will be reminded daily of the reason for celebrating the season!
We love this nativity and have added to it over time.
Create your own Advent calendar
Gather your supplies and spend a few hours with your kids letting them create their personalized version of a Christ-centered Christmas countdown. It does not need to be fancy or elaborate. It can be as simple as using post-it notes on paper.
Make sure to discuss with them how Advent is a way to develop a more personal relationship with God. Remind them that everyone’s journey is different so there are no specific rules about how their Advent calendar should look. Let them be as creative as they wish.
Make an Advent prayer journal
This one does not have to be anything fancy. It could be as simple as giving your kids a sheet of lined or plain paper to write their daily Advent prayers down each day. Spend some time praying with your kids, and then have them write their prayers down in their “journal”. Encourage them to decorate their pages as well. When the Advent season is over, collect or bind the pages to create a keepsake that they will treasure for years to come.
Have an attitude of gratitude
You may typically think of Thanksgiving as the time for reflecting on gratitude and for being thankful for the blessings in our lives. But the Advent season is the perfect season for having an attitude of gratitude. Remember that this is the time we have dedicated to celebrating Christ’s birth and to hoping for His return. Christ’s birth was the ultimate gift to us and an event more than worthy of our gratitude.
When we practice gratitude, we make a conscious effort to acknowledge the things we are thankful for in our lives. Gratitude is a way to boost our spirits, thereby cultivating hope. Something as simple as taking time to reflect upon or write down what you are thankful for a few times a week is all it takes.
Get in touch with nature
Notice how walking by pretty flowers or taking a moment to admire the glory of the fall foliage provides an instant pick-me-up? The sunrise, the sunset, birds singing, the sound of the river running, the sound of the ocean – these tenets of nature all have a calming effect that allows us to reset and center ourselves. They remind us that God is ever-present. And God is hope.
Each new day provides a fresh start and new possibilities for hope. By choosing and cultivating hope during the Advent season, we are able to ward off despair and relax as we anticipate Christ’s return. Developing hope ignites the embers of our faith and encourages our reliance upon God, who provides us with new mercies and grace each day.
Get involved with a service activity
If you want your kids to grow up to be “giving”, then starting young is the key. Kids learn by modeling the behavior of the adults they spend the most time with. So make sure you are modeling “giving” as well. Here are a few simple activities that help inspire your kids to be more giving:
- Have them make cards for elderly adults who do not have a family to visit or help out
- Fill a small box with special items and give it to someone who needs cheering up
- Leave Christmas surprises for the neighbors
- Write and mail letters to grandparents or special aunts and uncles
- Volunteer together at a church or soup kitchen or other local organization
- Collect food donations for the local food bank.
You get the idea. If it is helping someone, then it is helping to instill a sense of caring for the community and neighbors.
Perform random acts of kindness
When we help others hoping for nothing in return, it passes on hope to others. It also boosts your own sense of hope. Being kind to others reinforces our hope and increases our faith in the goodness of others. It lessens the focus from the not-so-great things happening every day. During the Advent season, try starting your day with a random act of kindness at least a few times each week.
Make advent memories
The Advent season can be busy, but making memories with your family is simple. Make a point of doing something special with your family each day to celebrate the Advent season. If it helps, you may create an activity calendar beforehand so that you do not need to think of something new each day. Here are a few ideas:
- Ride around looking at the Christmas lights. Add some hot cocoa with marshmallows and snacks to make it even more memorable.
- Stage a Christmas campout. Place sleeping bags near the Christmas tree and spend time telling stories and playing games.
- Make Christmas “stockings”. Just use some plain white socks and allow your kids to decorate them with markers, stickers, and other craft items.
- Have an Advent-themed Christmas scavenger hunt.
- Have a Christmas-themed dance party where you only place Christmas music.
The idea is to spend time with your family making the season memorable. Literally, anything that helps you spend a little quality time with your family each day is acceptable. Every day does not need to be a production.
All the demands we inherit from secular culture can rob us of peace and cause us to forget what we should focus on. Advent is a time to find peace and comfort in being a child of God. Slow down and enjoy being with your family.
The biggest takeaway from these simple Advent ideas is to focus on the meaning of the season and to enjoy your family. These are just a few ideas to help get you started planning the Advent season. The key to a successful Advent is doing what resonates and aligns with the values you wish to instill in your family.