christmas is coming: celebrating advent with them

we have yet to decorate for Christmas. since i was sick for thanksgiving, it doesn't feel like it actually happened and i'm kind of in a holiday attention deficit. first off, there's only one month left in this year? why and how??

i am torn. as usual. i want things to be black and white. so when i say i want Christmas to be only about Jesus and what He came into this world to do, i think, heck, why make it so commercial and fancy? after all, Jesus could have come here as a King, could have been born in the finest of places, yet He came as a baby and was born in a barn and laid in an animal trough. so imagine my dilemma. i want Christmas to be an everyday, all year thing, a heart thing, not a decorations thing. but at the same time, it is good to celebrate this, of course, because our King came to rescue us and that is Good News, worth celebrating and throwing the prettiest of parties for. i sit in those two places at once, trying to balance the two.

ultimately, i want hearts to be the focus. i don't want to have glorious Christmas lights up outside and then act like my heart in unchanged behind my walls.

each day in december leading up to Christmas, i plan on intentionally directing my heart and my families to the things of Christ and having lots of fun while at it! without spending much money and without taking too much time for preparation. i spent $22 (it's on sale this week!) on the advent tree below from Target (so i can reuse it every year rather than making my own advent thing that would have to be re-made each year) and $10 on some cute Nativity oriented crafts from Hobby Lobby.

each day there will be a message behind the door that the kids will giddily (i hope!) open. a message will be something special we are doing that day (based on our calendar of events)or a craft the kids can make, or something they can bake, watch on tv or read. here's what some will say:

dec 1: today we celebrate the coming of Jesus by joining in The Journey House ChaCha for Change event.
dec 2: we will decorate our Christmas tree together
dec 3: tonight we will celebrate by going to a Christmas concert and your daddy will be singing and playing!
dec 6: making pinecone trees like these
dec 7: we will make Nativity door hangers
dec 10: movie night! veggie tales christmas
dec 12: we will make (egg free!) christmas cookies

etc, etc. you get the idea.

we will also be following the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent reading plan. (the best book ever written for children. ever ever ever.)

now it's your turn... what do you have going on to prepare for Advent??

ps. look at this gorgeous free printable! go get it now.


  1. One thing we did every year when I was growing up was make and decorate little "Happy Birthday Jesus" cakes. It helped remind us that we were not celebrating Santa or presents or the Christmas tree, but the birth of our savior. It was my Grandmother's idea and she was a very talented cake decorator so she had all the fun cake decorating tools and we could make our birthday cake for Jesus how ever fancy we wanted :)

  2. we did something a lot like this last year and i think we'll do it again this year! we also do "the jesse tree" every night. reading a story out of the children's bible or the storybook bible leading up the the nativity story that we read together at christmas eve dinner. :)

  3. Love the Jesus Storybook Bible soooooooooooooooooooo much!Actually read and am going to review. Use it with my Sunday School class for a treat!

  4. Love love love this! I've been thinking of how to heartfully participate in advent this year and this is perfect. I even already have a countdown thing with little doors similar to your tree! I don't know why I did not think to use it. Thanks so so much for sharing this!

    And I seriously need to get the Jesus Storybook Bible...ugh!

  5. loving the puffball trim in that pic. need some. can't wait to start our advent tree. the girls love it!

  6. I totally understand your heart about Christmas- it's hard to see all the commercialism hype that distracts everyone from the REAL meaning of Christmas. So our family will also focus on Advent and the REAL meaning of Christmas. Your heart is precious!! Have a great day!

  7. I feel the same dilemma. I want to do fun, memory making activities with my kids, yet I stress so much about it! I love your approach to it!

  8. I get really excited about all of these plans and sharing Jesus with the kiddos. Except mine is only nine months old and doesn't get it yet... sigh :) Next year, for sure!

  9. I love this idea! It makes learning about why we celebrate really exciting. :)
    The Jesus Storybook Bible...ah, I love that little book.

    God bless you!

  10. This is such a cute idea! I love it! The kids will definitely be so excited about it!!


  11. we got an advent calendar from NaptimeDiaries.com this year and are hanging the cards from yarn with clothes pins... I love it! Each day has a Bible reading with it. I have a small piece of chocolate to give Mareto after the reading. We are doing Christmas SIMPLE this year -- our tree is up and the nativity is on the mantle. Other than that it's just the advent calendar on the wall and Christmas carols from the stereo. Amazingly enough I still feel the Christmas spirit and am actually enjoying it more because of the simplicity! :)

  12. In the same dilemma over here. Doing a paper jesse tree this year, then going to do something more reusable next year. LOVE the jesus storybook bible readings. Thanks for the suggestions!

  13. I love your advent tree! We have a great book that we read through with Bible readings and hymns - then each child takes a turn hanging the corresponding symbol on the advent calendar tree. (With 8 kids, they only get a few turns each! :) )

    Such sweet Christmas memories you're doing with your kids - they'll always remember that!!

  14. You had mentioned the Jesus Storybook in a post a few months back and I ordered both of our Grans one for Christmas. I can't wait to give it to them.

    Carissa, you have got it right and I love that it is important to you to teach Sage and Hunter what the REAL meaning of Christmas is all about. It is a hard balance but I know you will do a great job.

    Love you!

  15. The storybook Bible looks intriguing! I don't think I've heard of it yet . . . . till today. Though I don't have kiddos yet maybe that's why!

    I love the advent tree from Target! Wonder if ours carries it? Adorable! And I Love your ideas. You're so industrious! I have to keep track of myself and my husband for now . . . . . not sure if I can end up that "with it" when we have kids or not. But I might try, some of it at least!

    Hope your last day of November is great since you were sick for Turkey day! Bummer.

  16. Love that sweet tree! And thank you for sharing about the Advent reading plan. We have that Bible too, and have yet to make use of it (I'm so so so embarrassed to write that).
    And what a wonderful print. You are full of fun goodies today! :)

  17. The Jesus Storybook Bible- thanks for sharing! I have been racking my brain trying to find one geared for children and so I just looked this up on amazon and purchased our own copy- hope it gets here sooner than later!


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