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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2018, but has been updated and modified in November 2019
I am so excited to share with you all how our family has created some truly amazing memories during Advent by sharing together in devotions, fellowship and ministry.
This post focuses on fellowship during the Advent season. You can read about the devotion aspect (and why we do it) here and the ministry aspect of Advent here.
Also, don't forget to grab your FREE Advent Planning Pages at the end of this post!
As an Advent gift to all of you, I've also created a FREE printable Advent Charades game! (Click on images at end of post to print.)
Now back to the post...........
You've all heard of The 12 Days of Christmas, right? Well, how would your kiddos like it if you celebrated The 24 Days of Advent?
Six years ago I decided to incorporate a different activity, ministry, gift or other surprise for each of the 24 Days of Advent and our family LOVES it! It has truly become the highlight of the holiday season. Here's how we do it.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we use a Jesse Tree and Jesse Tree devotional to study God's word together and prepare our hearts during Advent. (If you want to read more about the Jesse Tree, you can HERE.) We begin with a bare tree and, as we read a devotion each night, our children take turns hanging an ornament on the tree that corresponds with the devotion.
Remember my John the Baptist? Isn't he cute?
Next to the Jesse Tree is a pile of wrapped "gifts" numbered 1-24, one for each night of Advent.
Like all of you, we are a very busy family. Our Advent gifts - favorite storybooks, games and ministry - are a way to encourage us to slow down, enjoy our relationships and love others.
If you're wondering why there is an Eiffel Tower on our Jesse Tree.....sometimes I like to get a little creative with the ornaments. This one happens to represent Habakkuk 2:1 "I will stand like a guard to watch and place myself at the tower....."
The child who hangs the ornament on the tree then gets to open the corresponding "gift."
Gifts may be as simple as a favorite Christmas story book that we snuggle on the couch and read that night. Other times it will be an envelope with a letter encouraging us to "remember those in chains." We then spend a few minutes praying for the persecuted church.
This idea of making Advent a treasured family tradition can be as simple or elaborate as you want. It shouldn't stress Mom out. The point is to bring your family together during Advent for the purpose of discipleship, fellowship and ministry.
There are many ways to accomplish this and it will look different in every home. Here are many of the ideas that we have used over the years.
Our Holiday Memory Menu packs are free for a limited time this Holiday season!
Family Game Night
This one has become a family favorite and we include this tradition in some form or another every year. I have two children whose birthdays happen to fall during Advent. One year we had family game night on each of their birthdays and that child got to pick out the game.
Other times I have wrapped up an old family favorite game and placed it under the Jesse Tree to be opened on the designated day.
There is just something exciting about unwrapping a "gift", even if it is a game that has been on our shelf for several years. It's the exciting feeling of, "What does mom have planned for us tonight?"
Some years, depending on our budget, I will surprise them with a brand new game. Here are some of our all-time favorites!
Another twist on game night is to invite friends over. Last year we had some dear friends over for homemade cinnamon rolls, coffee and games. It was a super fun time!
Speaking of super fun family game nights.....don't leave without printing your FREE Advent Charades game included in our Advent Planning Pages at the bottom of this post!
Classic Christmas Movie Night
Another Advent tradition is to wrap each of our growing collection of Christmas movies and books and place them under the Jesse Tree.
Do you know that feeling you get when you bring out the Christmas decorations and look through all the ornaments with delight, as if they were long-lost friends?
That's the feeling the kids get when they unwrap a family favorite Christmas movie or an old Christmas storybook. The younger children will exclaim, "Oh, I remember that one!"
Every year on the night before Christmas eve, without exception, we watch The Nativity Story. As soon as our devotion is over and someone grabs the gift under the tree, the kids all shout, "We know what that one is!"
These things may seem trite or silly, but to me they are precious traditions that bind our family together.
Here's a funny story: Last year, one of our Advent gifts was an envelope with a letter that said, "Get into your jammies and pop some popcorn because tonight we're going to watch The Man Who Invented Christmas!" We all scrambled around for the next hour getting showers and snacks. Finally we sat down with our popcorn and turned on Amazon to stream the movie. Guess what? It hadn't been released to DVD yet and wasn't available. Way to go Mom!!
Well, we won't have that problem this year because it's on Amazon and available for FREE to Prime members! (I double-checked this time:-)
Family Read Aloud
Another very simple idea for making fun memories together during Advent is reading aloud great Christmas story books. Just like our favorite Christmas movies, I wrap up favorite storybooks (and sometimes purchase new) to be read aloud on different nights during Advent season.
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey is our absolute, favorite Christmas read-aloud of all time! This is a book I will be reading to my grandchildren, Lord willing, someday. This year, I decided to surprise the kids with the movie after finding this version on Amazon for only $5.99.
Sadly, my older boys don't enjoy snuggling on the couch reading storybooks anymore. (sigh....why do they have to grow up?) But I think they may want to listen in this year because I found a great new book called The Christmas Truce. It's the story of the truce that was called between the German and English soliders in WWI. (Hope it entices them to listen in!)
More Family Fellowship Ideas
Advent fellowship can be as easy or elaborate as you want it to be. Just be intentional about spending time together as a family. These memories will last a lifetime!
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As our Advent gift to all of you, we have created this FREE Advent Charades Game. Click on the image below to download.
Click on the image below to download our Advent Planning pages.
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