Friday, November 28, 2014

A Holiday Season with Meaning: The Advent Box

*After sharing our family gift giving tradition, I was happily surprised by how much it resonated with so many of you! In hopes of this being a blessing, I thought I'd share another tradition our family has grown into over the years........our Advent Box.

As a little girl, we had two advent calendars. One was fabric and had a little mouse that was moved from pocket to pocket {after much arguing over whose turn it was} every day leading up to Christmas, and one was a cardboard calendar with windows that were opened every day, and a Scripture that told part of the Christmas story.
That was what I knew of advent.

As I got older, I remember seeing the giant Advent wreath with its pink and purple candles outside the nearby Lutheran church every Christmas.
I had a friend who had a felt strip with a piece of candy tied on for each day leading up to Christmas as her advent calendar.
When I became an adult, I started seeing all kinds of ideas for advent calendars: some were wooden boxes with doors hiding treats inside, some were rows of stockings, some were garlands of tiny gifts, some were Lego, and some were stickers.
Many of them were cute, but I didn't quite understand the point of getting a gift every day until Christmas......when you'd get a bunch more gifts.

Then in the mail one year, my mom sent us our old cardboard Advent calendar.
We had decided that we really wanted the focus of our Christmas to be about Jesus, so we started there.
The more I looked, the more I found ways to prepare our hearts and minds for the celebration of the coming {which is what advent means!} of the Christ-Child......

Cardboard Calendars {open a window every day}
The Advent Book {a family heirloom with giant doors to open}
A Wooden Wreath {light a candle a day as Mary winds her way to Bethlehem}
The Jesse Tree {the Christmas story from Creation to Christ ~ lots of variations, including several from Ann Voskamp, and the Names of Jesus ornaments}

I also found lots of ideas about fun things to do as a family during the days leading up to Christmas.
Some people included Christmas activities, some included acts of service.
Some read Christmas books.
{If you are looking for ideas, just go to Pinterest!}
As is often the case with me, I tend to go overboard when trying something new.....
we had one year when I had five different printables for the girls to
{including a toilet paper roll nativity....yeah.}

But we've finally settled into what works for our family:  the Advent Box.

In our simply decorated box I include the Jesse Tree ornament to be hung and a card telling what activity we are going to do that day {if we are doing one},  fun surprises {if there are any}, and how many books are to be opened and read together.

The box is simple, but it does exactly what we are hoping for.
It turns our eyes to the Saviour we are celebrating, encourages family memory-making, and sets the tone we desire for the Christmas season.

So I'm curious......
Do you have any advent calendar memories from your childhood?
And do you have a way of counting down to Christmas with your own family?
I'd love to hear!


  1. My kiddos have the LEGO Advent calendars, but we also have a "What God Wants For Christmas" advent that is only about a week long. We talk about the Reason for the season all December, and we talk about why certain ornaments were given (most have a great spiritual meaning), why certain decorations are chosen, and even why we have a Christmas tree (which has a spiritual meaning/picture behind it). I love what you all do. So very cool! :) I think there's always room for new things or for tweaking ideas, too - as long as you don't lose the purpose behind the presentation and repetition, and I know you know what I mean by that because that's what you all strive for, too (not to lose the meaning behind it all). :) Anyway, we miss you all and love you lots!