Warm fires and fuzzy hoodies. A hot drink and a good book. Knitting with soft wool. These are a few of my favorite things (about winter). These and celebrating the Christmas season. It’s true, we don’t put up a tree or exchange gifts in our family, but that doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Christmas. It just means we have more time focus on other things.
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This year has been a crazy one for all of us, so I have been planning ahead. I created this printable Advent Calendar and plan to do as many activities as possible (without adding stress to my life).
The calendar includes 24 numbered envelopes (you just cut and glue), a template for blank envelopes (in case you want to write names or dates on them), 28 Advent activity cards, a sheet of blank cards (so you can personalize, or add in family events), and 24 Acts of Service cards, so you can make this season about giving.
Everything is fully customizable, and best of all, FREE.
I am almost finished creating an Advent Activity book that is filled with recipes, games, and activities to go along with the the calendar. The activity book isn’t necessary since the calendar includes activity cards, but it will remove much of the work by providing recipes an activities for you. I’ll link here as soon as it is available.
I hope you can use the list below as a starting point when choosing activities for your family this holiday season.
1. Read an Advent Book Together
For years our family read Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, Bartholomew’s Passage, or Ishtar’s Odyssey leading up to Christmas. Each of these books is written so you read one chapter each night of Advent, culminating with the last chapter being read on Christamas morning.
I really cannot recommend these enough. It is a sweet way to prepare for Christmas with little ones. The best part? The characters in the books overlap, so if you read a different one each year, you will continue to meet the characters. My personal favorite is Ishtar’s Odyssey. Ishtar is the son of a wiseman and we rarely view the Christmas story from this view point.
Now that the kids are older, we are moving on to books geared for young adults. Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide Through Advent is written by the husband of one of my best friends, so you should definitely buy it.
Another great book is written by fellow homeschool mom and blogger, Heather Schwarzen. Experiencing Advent “is designed to be flexible. Use it with Daddy around the breakfast table before he leaves for work. Set aside time during homeschooling to devote to the study. Make it part of your family Bible study. Use it in a way that best fits your family right now, in this season of life.”
Celebrate Christmas by Cooking and Baking Together
Tastes and smells have the almost magical power to transport us back to our in time. Now is the time the build these sensory memories with your children. We all need to eat so why not make memories along the way? Below are four of our favorite holiday treats.
And here are some fun treats I have rounded up from the web. I can’t wait to try the melted snowman cookies!
- Puff Pastry Christmas Tree
- Melted Snowman Cookies
- Rudolf Rice Cakes
- Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
Celebrate Christmas by reading Christmas Books Together
One of my favorite things to do with my children has always been reading together. Reading books together is a great way to build anticipation for Christmas. It’s easy to do and something the entire family can enjoy it.
When my children were younger, the day after Thanksgiving I would fill a basket with Christmas and Hannukah books to be enjoyed. Trina Holden has a great post on How to Build a Christmas Book Advent Calendar on a Budget. Kids love reading the same books over and over, year to year, and the fun of unwrapping them adds to the anticipation.
Last year I wrote a post detailing our favorite Christmas books (you should really check it out) but here are a few of my favorites.
Silent Night by Lara Hawthorn tells the Biblical story of Christ’s birth. What I love so much about this book and why I bought it in the first place, is Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are all people of color!
Twas the Evening of Christmas tells the story of Christ’s birth with the ear-pleasing rhythm of Twas the Night Before Christmas. This is one of my absolute favorites. There is just something so soothing about cadence of Twas a Night Before Christmas.
Have a Family Make-A-Mix Night
Gather the supplies and spend an afternoon or evening creating gift mixes. These are perfect for giving to friends, family, teachers, and anyone else who would appreciate a handmade gift.
Host a Cookie Decorating Party
Decorating Christmas cookies is one of our favorite family traditions. We’ve been doing it since our kids were toddlers. I make dozens of sugar cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas and freeze them. I thaw the cookies the day before and make plenty of frosting.
Some years we invite friends to join us, some years it is just our family but one thing is for sure. everyone loves decorating cookies! Be sure and read my post How to Host a Stesss-Free Cookie Decorating Party for tons of tips and hacks.
Have a Family Craft Night
A family craft night is a great way to spend time together and celebrate Christmas at the same time. Put on some Christmas music, put out snacks and hot drinks, and go to tow. The crafts can be kept for decorations or given as gifts.
- Mason Jar Snow Globes
- Funky Christmas Tree Ornaments
- Marbled Christmas Tree Ornaments
- Create a Pet Advent Calendar
- Rustic Christmas Tree Decor
Set Up a Nativity Scene Together
As I kid I always eagerly anticipated the night my mom would pull out the Nativity set. ours was a ceramic set that my mom hand-painted. She even used paint with real gold on the wisemen, which for a kid, is about as good as it gets!
When our kids were younger, I had a variety of inexpensive Nativity scenes that I would put out with our Christmas books. It was important to me to have sets they could handle and play with.
Have a Hot Chocolate Bar and Christmas Movie Night
This has become one of our favorite ways to celebrate Christmas.
We make hot chocolate and have ALL THE FIXINGS. We have whipped cream, marshmallows, candy canes, sprinkles and more. This is one night we let the kids go a little crazy.
We make tons of finger foods (this ends up being our dinner) and enjoy a Christmas movie together.
Don’t forget to download your free Advent Calendar!