Celebrating Advent with Kids

The first Sunday of Advent is almost here.  Some of us have dusted off our Advent wreaths, bought new candles and prepared to begin the celebration.  Many of us however are new to this celebration and arn’t sure what to do.  Especially if you are celebrating with children you may be a little uncertain what to do to make this a fun and instructive time without entering into the consumer frenzy which is the secular celebration.  I must confess that the advertisement last night celebrating the countdown to 25 days of Christmas (the 25 days before Christmas not the 12 days of Christmas of the liturgical calendar) really infuriated me which is probably what stimulated my recognition of the need to help kids refocus on the real meaning of Christmas.

There are loads of resources out there but here are some ideas from around the world that I would suggest will really help to make this a celebration of Christ who comes to all the people in our world.  And maybe it will enable you to establish new family traditions that will become memorable parts of your children’s celebrations for years to come.


On the first Sunday of Advent, each child in the family receives an empty manger. An oatmeal box covered with bright paper will do as well. At bedtime, the children draw straws for each kind deed performed in honor of Baby Jesus as his birthday surprise. The straw are placed in the child’s manger or box daily. It is amazing how much love a child can put into Advent when s/he is preparing for his redeemer’s coming in grace.

On Christmas, each child finds an infant in his manger, placed on a small table or a chair beside his or her bed. Usually it is a tiny doll, beautifully dressed. This custom fills the child with a longing in Advent, and provides an image of the redeemer as the first happy glance in the morning and the last impression at night during the entire Christmas season.


Explore Christmas traditions from around the world with your kids and discuss the possibility of adapting some of these as part of your own celebration during the Advent and Christmas season.  Christmas Around the World has a wonderful description of traditions from a variety of countries that you might like to discuss.  The Worldwide Gourmet has a wonderful array of recipes associated with the Advent and Christmas season in many different parts of the world.  Just reading through some of these had my mouth watering.

CAFOD: Just One world has some great Advent liturgies available as well as a downloadable Advent calendar for kids.

Countdown Christmas Traditions has a fun kid friendly Advent calendar.  As you click on each day of Advent you read about traditions in different countries of the world,

If you are looking for some more traditional Advent devotions to go through with your children you might like to consider these downloadable files from Christ the King Presbyterian Church in Raleigh NC. You can even download the MP3s of most of the songs.

More resources for celebrating as a family here.

Another possibility is to work with your kids on alternative gifts that will go to those who are struggling in different parts of the world.  Lots of organizations now have alternative catalogues available.  Here are a few that I am aware of.

Heifer Project

World Concern

World Vision

This is not always easy to explain to your relatives however as the chair of our Board found out a few years ago when he tried to give 1/2 a goat to his parents for Christmas.  What am I going to do with half a goat his mother wondered?

If you have other ideas that you would like to share please add your comments to this post and have a blessed first Sunday of Advent




14 Responses

  1. […] one of the best sources of online Advent materials is Christine Sine, who recently posted about Celebrating Advent with Kids, Daily Bible Readings For Advent, and has now posted her annual Advent video, The Coming Of the […]

  2. We’re doing a Jesse Tree (with our four-year-old). http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545
    It’s a Catholic/Orthodox tradition that is completely new to me this year and goes through the history of Israel showing how God loves and keeps his promises even when we disappoint and fall short. Culminating in his fulfilled promise of Jesus.

  3. Mika,
    I was introduced to the Jesse tree a few years ago too. It is a great way to celebrate Advent with kids

  4. […] 8. Participate in the daily Advent readings. It doesn’t take long. You can do it personally or get the entire family involved. Read them before leaving for work in the morning. Or read them together as a family before dinner or before bedtime. Here’s a great post from Christine Sine about the daily readings. Also check out her post on celebrating Advent with kids. […]

  5. […] God Space blog also offers some fun ideas of things to do with your kids during the Advent […]

  6. […] post on Celebrating Advent with Kids and if you know of other resources that should be added to this list I would love to hear from […]

  7. I simply couldnt depart your web-site before suggesting that I seriously loved the standard data a person provide for your online visitors? Is going to be back often in order to check out brand-new articles.

  8. […] excitement and expectation in children? One of my most popular posts during Advent is this one on Celebrating Advent With Kids. People are looking for resources – and I think not just to celebrate with their kids but […]

  9. […] of Christmas. As I mentioned before, one of my most popular posts during Advent is this one on Celebrating Advent With Kids. People are looking for resources – and I think not just to celebrate with their kids but because […]

  10. […] opportunities for the giving of livestock – from chickens to cattle but as I mentioned in a previous post on Advent resources for Kids, this can sometimes be a little confusing as the chair of our Board […]

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