Although time seems to be passing strangely, we are indeed entering the season of Advent. While we do not yet know exactly what this season may- or may not- have in store for us this year, we do know that it will not be what many of us and our children have come to know and expect.
There is space for hurt and disappointment in this season of waiting for the light.
There is also, perhaps, a unique opportunity to devote time and energy to observing Advent traditions and practices in your home with your family that, in other years, your family might have been too busy with other events to make space for. Some traditions (like Bible verse countdowns and Jesse Trees) are meant to be followed throughout the entire Advent season; others (like crafts and games) can be completed easily in an afternoon. There are many ways to observe this special season, and if you are hoping to create some new Advent memories with your family, here a few suggestions that you might consider: (a pdf version can be downloaded here).
Advent Calendars and Bible Verse Countdowns
Bible Verse Countdown to Christmas: https://happyhomefairy.com/bible-verse-advent-countdown-kids-free-printable/
Something like this (a countdown of Bible verses for each night of Advent) can be combined with a paper chain craft (https://daisiesandpie.co.uk/simple-festive-paper-chain-decorations/): each night, after reading the verse from the printed page, have your child cut it out and then glue it onto a strip of paper. Each night, add the new verse onto your growing paper chain.
Christmas Nativity Calendar (great for families with young children, as the verses are short, and there is a nativity scene to color!): https://craftingthewordofgod.com/2016/12/03/christmas-nativity-calander/amp/
Advent wreaths include one candle for each of the four Sundays in Advent, representing hope, peace, joy, and love. A fifth, larger candle- the Christ candle- is placed in the center, and is lit on Christmas Eve. You may wish to light your candle by following along with the candle lighting liturgy each Sunday in our virtual worship services. You may also wish to create a small ritual with your family for each night of the season of Advent, with singing, prayer, and bible verse readings (see above for suggestions). It can be as simple or as involved as you like, but whatever you choose, Advent wreaths are a special way to prepare with your family for the celebration of the coming of Jesus.
DIY Advent Wreath (for something a little fancier): https://joyfullydomestic.com/make-advent-wreath/
Kids' Advent Wreath crafts (for something a little more homegrown, and less flammable): https://www.looktohimandberadiant.com/2014/11/kids-advent-wreath-free-printables.html?spref=pi
Or, if you'd like to keep it very simple (like our family), you can gather four free-standing candles of the same size (three blue or purple, and one pink, if you'd like to keep the same liturgical colors), and a fifth, larger white candle to serve as the Christ candle. Our family purchased ours from HEMA, but you can find similar styles elsewhere. Gather your candles on a large platter to catch the wax, and voila!
"A Jesse Tree is a special way to observe the advent season, telling the story of God’s great plan of redemption from Creation through the birth of Christ. It usually begins on December 1st, with a Scripture reading or story each day and a corresponding ornament to hang on a special Jesse Tree" -Kathleen Henderson
How to start a Jesse Tree tradition with your family: https://rootsandboots.com/how-to-start-a-jesse-tree-adventtradition/
Printable Jesse Tree ornaments: https://koriathome.com/use-jesse-tree-advent/
Nativity ornaments: https://www.trueaimeducation.com/stained-glass-nativity-ornaments-printable/
Nativity finger puppets: https://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/nativity-finger-puppets-free-christmas-printable
Christmas Tree Bible verse craft: http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2014/12/christmas-bible-verse-tree.html
Popsicle Stick Nativity: https://www.aop.com/blog/craft-your-own-nativity-scene-in-9-simple-steps
Baby Jesus Paper Plate Craft: https://www.daniellesplace.com/html/christmas-crafts-bible-2.html#manger
Baby Jesus Handprint Fingerpaint Craft: https://www.craftymorning.com/baby-jesus-in-manger-fingerprint-craft/
Printable Nativity Banner: https://www.papertraildesign.com/christmas-nativity-banner-free-printable/#_a5y_p=6487298
Nativity Scavenger Hunt: https://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/11/find-fill-nativity-scene-game.html