A Quiet Christmas: Ideas for families to celebrate Advent together.

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This guest post was written by: Monica Wilkinson

The season of Christmas is such a special time of celebration. Opportunities abound for activities to fill our calendars and it can be tricky, as families, to find peace in the midst of the craziness. What should be one of the most sacred times of year for us as believers, has become what Charlie Brown even realized as commercialized and missing the point.

Over the years of raising children, I have attempted to pursue the delicate balance and challenge of pressing pause, of finding quiet in the midst and intentionally cultivating a spirit of worship in our home.

Embracing a Quiet Christmas

Advent, from the Latin word adventus – speaks of coming. We celebrate and remember Christ’s physical coming to earth and we look forward with joyful anticipation to His second coming! We are living between the two advents and we want to diligently communicate this to the children He has placed in our care – whether in a place of ministry or in our very own homes. This may mean breaking bad habits or meaningless traditions we have held onto or cultivated but now wonder why. But rather than thinking about what it might cost to give some of these things up – consider instead what might be gained.

Comfy and Cozy

Free Advent Calendar Image

Intentionally choosing not to go out for another Christmas event can result in opportunities for quiet coziness at home. Pile onto the couch with a favorite fuzzy blanket and play the ornament game – a game my sister and I made up as young children. It is basically like 20 Questions, but we are trying to guess which ornament the other has their eye on by asking questions to narrow it down. Serve hot chocolate by candlelight or surprise your children after a warm bedtime bath with a basket of Christmas books.

Beauty for God’s Glory

Choosing to silence some of the crazy of the season does not mean having to give up any of the beauty of the season! Try a picnic by the Christmas tree or a night looking at the stars! Look at the ways God incorporated beauty into the advent of Jesus’ first coming – angels, stars, glorious light, singing, worship! What gifts of beauty-making has God invested in those who live in your home? Use them in worship to Him! Set a beautiful table as an offering to Him which also serves up beauty to your family. Gather around the piano or a favorite song streaming on your phone and raise your voices together! Learn the beauty of creative worship – try a set of nativity rubber stamps or cookie cutters, recreate Bible stories with Play-doh or act them out in bathrobes! Your dog or cat won’t mind being referred to as a sheep for a few minutes perhaps? Pull out watercolors, crayons, or colored pencils and create something to the glory of God!

Calm and Bright

Families Celebrating Advent Together

Light is one of the great gifts of Christmas as it seems the whole world sparkles with them! Embrace this opportunity to talk about the light of the world. Look at Christmas lights and light candles and marvel in letting His light permeate your home and conversations! Look for ways to talk about Him every chance you get – there are endless ways especially this time of year. We are washed whiter than snow by His blood – a great opportunity to speak of our tremendous need for a Savior and the gift He has generously given us! My point is we can still embrace the joy, delight, and brightness of the season all while pursuing calm and quietness of the heart pointing to Him!

Silent Night

Families Celebrating Advent Together Calm

Picture the humble welcome to our earth that God chose for His dearly loved, only Son and feel the pressures and expectations melt away. Our main goal, our true focus is on Christ – on things above! Allow your heart to pause and really evaluate what matters most, what you are continuing just for traditions’ sake and maybe what needs to change. Don’t hear me say that traditions are wrong – in fact, remembering is one of God’s great examples in His Word with feasts in the Old Testament and communion in the New Testament set up as special opportunities for remembrance. Instead, take some time to quietly evaluate what you want the atmosphere of the Advent season to be in your home and what sort of things are worth remembering and honoring.

Go and Tell

One word of caution: we must not allow quieting the Christmas season to become an idol or to prevent us from sharing the greatest news that has ever been! Our world is more open this time of year than any other with God’s good news streaming through speakers from car radios to grocery shoppers and everywhere else. The world around us needs to see something different in us from the rest of our culture pushing bigger and better gifts rather than holding out hope through the message that Christ came, died for our sins, and rose again to life! This is the news we want to shout from mountaintops and street corners or in the waiting room in the doctor’s office or as we order food in a restaurant. The reminder is to quiet our own hearts but then to be ready to boldly share when given an opportunity to do so!

Treasured and Pondered

Families Celebrating Advent Together Silent Night

I cannot imagine we will ever regret being less busy, choosing quieter or focusing intently on what really matters. Quite the opposite in fact. May we be like Mary who gathered up all the events of Jesus’ birth and life – treasuring and pondering them in our hearts until the second advent of Christ. We await that glorious day – but until then may we diligently pursue ways to quietly lead our hearts and homes at Christmas.

Introducing Advent to Littles

Here are a few gentle ideas to introduce the idea of Advent to younger children – you know your family best, so sift through these and allow your own ideas to emerge and bloom as well!

Introducing Advent To Young Children
  • Read The Night Before Advent poem by Ann Voskamp consider having a tasty treat and making it a celebration! Serve by candlelight or with a basket of favorite Christmas books.
  • Listen to Sovereign Grace music Prepare Him Room album.
  • Download the Free Advent Activity Calendar (below) to dedicate some quality time each day to do something together as a family during Advent. Each day, during your activity, engage with our little one(s) about the true meaning of Christmas.
  • See if you can find a used copy of the What God Wants for Christmas box kit from Family Life.
  • Make an advent wreath out of things you collect on a nature walk and include four candles – enjoy lighting one additional candle each week leading up to Christmas!
  • Make a Jesse Tree – this can be as simple as drawing little pictures to making ornaments that go with many Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah. A great way to draw children through the Bible to see God’s perfect answer in providing Jesus!
  • Use the following devotion and Scripture references to explain what Advent is!
    • Start by introducing the word advent to your children. Explain where it comes from {Latin: adventus} and what it means: coming.
    • We see Him coming through the entire Old Testament, we see the need for Him to come.
    • When someone is coming – how do we prepare? {We talked about a baby arriving or company coming.} What sorts of things do we do to prepare? Clean, think of foods that our guests would enjoy, clear our calendar, etc.
    • How will we prepare for the celebration of His coming this advent?
    • What are your favorite Christmas traditions?
    • How can we focus on Christ together as a family this month?
    • Think about complete darkness and then light; the light of the Advent wreath gets brighter the closer we get to Christmas – why do you think this is?
    • Look up the following passages:
      • Isaiah 9:2-7. {The people living in darkness have seen a great light.}
      • Matthew 11:28-39 {Hear the word come!}
      • Genesis 1:3 {Let there be light!}
      • John 1:1-9 {The true light that gives light is coming into the world.}
      • Revelation 22:7, 12, 17 and 20-21: have your children count the number of times they hear the words come/coming!
    • Pray together thanking God for His first coming and looking forward expectantly to His second advent!

No matter what activity is right for your family, now is the time to make it a tradition to this and future Advent and Christmas seasons slowing down and bringing Jesus’ birth to the center of our family’s minds.

Free Printable: Advent Activity Calendar

Click on the link below the download the Free Advent Activity Calendar. This illustrated calendar features 25 different activity ideas, one for each day of Advent, that you can do together as a family or with friends.

Free Advent Calendar for Families

Free Advent Activity Calendar PDF

These advent activities on the Free Advent Activity calendar include different ways of celebrating Jesus’ birth, including different craft ideas, various service ideas, reading together, delivering Christmas cards, singing Christmas carols, attending a Christmas Eve service at church or from home, and snuggling up together Christmas morning to read the about Christ’s birth together.

The advent activity calendar features 25 days of activities you can do together as a family. This full-color, free advent calendar prints on a single piece of paper and features fun and colorful artwork. Each advent activity keeps busy families’ lives in mind, with hopes of helping families carve out time together to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. 

These great ideas for celebration from this advent activity calendar for families are perfect for young children and teens alike, so it can become a great family tradition to repeat year after year.

Download this Advent Activity Calendar to share with your members to inspire time together as we count down to Christmas or download it for your family to use. Each day, a new activity idea (some service-oriented, others just for fun) encourages families to slow down and cherish the season. 

Churches and ministries can also use this free advent activity calendar and share it with the members within your church. These make great additions to Advent boxes or Christmas care packages you may be putting together for families.  

May God’s Word guide you as you embark on your Advent adventure this year.

Wishing everyone a joyful and Merry Christmas.

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This guest post was written by: Monica Wilkinson

Monica Wilkinson is a wife, mama of three teenagers and lover of slowing down. She loves to intentionally pursue making memories as a family, seeking beauty and cultivating cozy. She works part-time at her local church, does freelance for Communication Resources, Inc. and has written two books: Slow Lane and Beauty Maker. Her writing has also been featured in Bella Grace magazine and on the Joyful Life blog.