Premier Celebration of Advent

Since having children I have searched, mostly in vain, to find Christmas traditions that will last in our family. These things have included how we do presents and actually celebrate Christmas. My goal has always been to stay within the bounds of what we believe, which is that this is a time of year to rejoice in the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that being with our family and giving to those who have true need is the best way to do this.

In years past I have tried to set some guidelines in place in an effort to ward off the Mammon-palooza that is the secular Christmas. We have given only three gifts to each child as a reflection of the three gifts that were brought to Jesus by the Magi. However, last year even that small number felt excessive. I changed up the guidelines this year and each of my boys is getting one gift. Yes, that is right, just one. We have a some books and activities in our nights of Advent and that counts as two. For the third we “get” to give. This year we gave to an organization called Samaritan’s Purse. They have a catalog full of ways to give in the most practical ways while also sharing the love of Christ. Our boys loved some of the unique ways we could give by buying livestock, or blankets, or a bible. (For more information go to

This year I also decided to do an Advent Calendar. The word advent comes from the Latin adventus and means “coming”. During Advent we celebrate the anticipation of the coming of Christ. This year my calendar was pretty basic. I had a snowball garland in my box of seasonal items so I took white envelopes, filled them with scripture, a treat and an event for each day. It was pretty primitive but it worked and as we took down envelopes I hung up the Christmas cards we had received in the mail. Next year I would like to make something more permanent and aesthetically pleasing that I can pull out annually.


The most amazing part of doing Advent is seeing the excitement in my children as we gather together as a family in the evenings to open up a new envelope. Most of the things we do are very simple and cost little or no money:

  • Reading a book together (I bought about 10 books just as gifts for our library and some nights the boys were able to pick one to read.)
  • Pairing a Christmas book with a movie or just a movie (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express, Velveteen Rabbit, Elf). We sometimes added treats that went with the book, too.
  • Make and decorate Christmas cookies
  • Attend a community (read free) Christmas concert
  • For Christmas Eve we are reading the events of Christ’s birth as told in Luke
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Drive around in our pajamas and look at Christmas lights
  • Sing Christmas carols (my husband plays along on the guitar)

It doesn’t really matter what it is we are doing, the point is that we are doing it together and that is something I want our children to hold onto and remember and, ideally, pass down to our grandchildren. I feel like this year we have found a good place between getting and giving but I anticipate that in the future as we grow in Christ we will have the desire to give of ourselves more and more. At least that is what my hope is.


3 responses to this post.

  1. I love this idea. Kuddos to you for sticking with it!


  2. This sounds beautiful! My children are good at receiving but I fear they are not good at giving. Thank you for the example you are setting for me as a mother. You inspire me to be better.


  3. Cool idea with the envelopes, I like that you guys did something together! And I would love to knock down the amount of gifts, and actually we don’t always buy our children gifts at Christmas because they get SO MUCH from our families when we got back. And since we spend Christmas with our families, it’s not like they’ve noticed. But it can be insane how many toys we have to try and pack into the van for our trip back. It’s nice that our families are so giving though. Any suggestions for extended family? I definitely don’t want to offend anyone, but I have thought about suggesting we try a “no-gifts” Christmas before…. not sure that would go over well… it’s just sad because we both come from Christian families, and there is no reading of the story in the Bible over the holidays. I love the food, but I would also love to have a spiritual element in there too. And on the gifts thing, it would be hard on me too because I love buying gifts for everyone. But that can also be an added stress because I’m buying for everyone at one time. Anyways, my comments are getting really long on here! Sorry for all the rambling.


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