Do you want to put Christ at the center of your family’s Christmas? Do you want a plan to help point your toddler to Jesus this Advent? Check this out!
*If you’re here, I hope you’ve read my first post on Advent with toddlers. If you haven’t, start there!*
I’m so excited about Advent this year, you guys! My son is a little older (almost 3), and I think he will really love all things Christmas. I just cannot wait to see his eyes light up at the decorations, and I really can’t wait to hear what he says as he begins to understand more and more of the Christmas story.
I’ve been researching toddler activities and ideas for Advent for months, and I can’t wait to share what I’ve read and learned with you guys!
I’m going to first share some ideas of different things you can do with your family, and then I’ll walk you through how I’m planning our Advent, and I’ll even share the actual calendar plan for our month of December. If you want to copy my plan, do that! Or feel free to modify it to fit the needs of your family! I’m here to make your Advent easier.
If Christmas doesn’t mean anything more to you than gifts, lights, and Santa Claus, message me. I would love to share with you about the God of the universe, who sent his one and only Son to seek and save the world. This is what and Who we celebrate at Christmas.
*There are affiliate links in this post. Read my full disclosure to learn more*.
1) Look through your Advent reading plan
It’s helpful to look through your Advent plan prior to the first day of Advent, at least briefly, to make sure you agree with what its teaching (this is the most important part, obviously), get a feel for what the layout is, how much (if any) prep-work it requires, and to think about how to “scale” it up or down, depending on the age and maturity of your kids.
Flip through the devotional you’ve chosen. Go through the checklist below to prepare yourself for the Bible reading/teaching part of Advent:
- Read at least a handful of the daily devotions– check to make sure they align with your beliefs, and that they are appropriate for the age of your children (i.e I will not be as detailed in my description of God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, because my children are 1 and 3)
- Check the devotion-extension ideas that are included, make notes of which ones you might want to attempt and materials you may need to purchase/locate. (i.e. God With Us includes 3 “Branching Out” lesson extensions. Some are appropriate for toddlers and others are not. I want to know which ones I might attempt so I don’t have to read and decide the day of the devotion)
- Make sure your ornaments match your devotion. (There are many different “Jesse Tree ornaments” out there, with different symbols. Make sure the ones you purchased match the reading you’ve chosen.)
- If you were going to make your own ornaments, and it’s past November 25th… BUY THEM! There’s always next year! haha! (Or, print them off super cheaply. There are ways to make it cheap, you guys!). You can also have your kids make them as the craft for each day (but ONLY DO THIS IF THEY”RE OLD ENOUGH AND ENJOY SUCH THINGS. Do not torture yourself with forcing them to do something they don’t enjoy… at least not during Advent family time!)
2) Consider your personal/family December calendar
2020 aside, (AND CAN WE PLEASE, PLEASE JUST SET IT ASIDE AND BE DONE WITH IT ALREADY!? Okay, I’m done, sorry. It’s been a YEAR!) December can be really crazy! There are school parties, church plays, dance performances, family get-togethers… SO.MANY.THINGS to keep track of.
Take a look at your calendar, and check to see what things are already planned that you may want to consider while you’re planning your family’s Advent. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with over-scheduling; Advent should be a time of rest, renewal, and refocusing our families on Christ.
(Again, I can just feel the irony in this step, for this year. But NEXT YEAR WE WILL HAVE A MILLION THINGS TO DO… I PROMISE! We will be WISHING for a slow, deliberate Christmas. I can feel it! Therefore, let’s soak in this Christmas. Let’s be intentional in the way we choose to celebrate.)
3) Compile a list of Christmas activities
Here comes the fun part!
Think back on Christmases past and consider the following (get your spouse and older kids involved, if possible):
- What things have you done every year that have either been purposeful, or turned into a tradition? Do you like those things and do you want to continue them for years to come?
- What feels like Christmas to you? (i.e. special foods or drinks? specific places or restaurants? a craft you always make? a group of friends you always gather with? special movies or music? Think specifically about your senses. How does Christmas look/taste/smell/sound?)
- Think about your ideal family Christmas. What things are there that your family doesn’t currently do? What things would you like to try to incorporate this year that you’ve never tried before? (If you need ideas of things you may want to add to your Advent this year, check out my list below!)
Once you’ve compiled a list, move on to the next step! You can have as many or a few things as you would like on your list! This is for you and your family (and you can always revisit this step later!)
4) Fill in your family’s Advent calendar
YAY! You made it! You’re ready to fill in your Advent calendar!
(Nope! Not the traditional open-a-drawer-get-a-candy Advent calendar… a LITERAL calendar that details your family’s daily plans for celebrating the Advent season!)
You should have with you your Advent reading plan/devotional, your personal calendar, and a list of agreed-upon Christmas activities for this year! Now you’re ready to get the party started!
(If planning isn’t a “party for you, like it is for me… stick around! I have something for you, too! You don’t HAVE to make a calendar!)
Use my blank 2020 Advent Calendar and start to fill in your squares!
Add your devotion topic first because it is a daily occurrence. Next, add your familial obligations, and lastly, add in your chosen Christmas activities!
Do NOT feel the need to fill each square with a Christmas activity! (Or do, and just know you won’t get to them all!)
If you’d like to see this fleshed out, here’s our family’s Advent calendar for this year! Keep in mind my kiddos are almost 3 years and 15 months old; you may need to tailor it to suite your needs!
If you’re detail-oriented, and would like to see all of this in one document, check out my 11-page Advent Guide! It includes a blank Advent Plan for you to fill out, the Advent Activity list for you to choose my personal Advent Plan for this year, a detailed daily list of what to do each day during Advent, as well as what you need for each activity!
If you’re a non-planner or more of a “bucket list” kind of mama, print off my Advent Activity list, put it on your fridge, and refer to it as needed for an idea of a fun family activity to do!
5) Add in supplemental lesson extensions (OPTIONAL!)
My son has just recently started enjoying simple crafts, so I wanted to have some on hand during Advent, just in case he was interested long enough to complete one after the day’s devotion!
Here’s a list of easy, toddler-friendly crafts that correspond to each week of our God With Us Advent study. I’m sharing with you guys because I know some of you are in the same boat- either you love to craft or your kiddos do! (Even if you’re not using God With Us, your Advent study probably has many of the same stories in it; check out the list below to see if you can use any of the crafts!)
Some of these are literally just coloring pages; I promise they are not intimidating!
|Date and God With Us title||Optional Lesson Extension|
|Sunday, November 29th: No God With Us reading for today|
Read: The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross (or another book that tells the whole story of the Bible)
|Nativity Coloring page|
|Monday, November 30th: No God With Us reading for today|
Read: The Christmas Promise (or another book that tells the story of Jesus’ birth)
Nativity Coloring page (pick another)
|Tuesday, December 1st: God With Us reading beginsTitle: “The Jesse Tree”||Play “Hide and Seek” with the nativity|
|Wednesday, December 2nd:“Creation”||Torn paper Earth:Print (or draw- it doesn’t have to be perfect) Earth. Have your toddler tear pieces of green and blue paper to glue for the land and water. (If tearing is too hard, cut the pieces up and have them glue them)|
Tip: Use a glue stick, or put liquid glue in a small bowl and have them “paint” the glue on each piece.
|Thursday, December 3rd: “Adam and Eve”||Apple stamping (idea from book) Cut an apple in half and make prints with it! |
Tip: Use a corn cob holder to hold the apple! A fork could work also!
|Friday, December 4th: “Noah”||Do-A-Dot RainbowYou don’t need to print a rainbow. Just draw one with a marker of the color you want your kiddo to use, and have them stamp with the corresponding Do-A-Dot marker on top of the line. You could also use dot stickers.|
|Saturday, December 5th:“Abraham”||Q-Tip star paintingCut out a star from construction paper and have your toddler use Q-tips to paint dots on the star|
Star-stamping: Dip star cookie cutters in yellow paint and stamp onto blue or black construction paper
|Sunday, December 6th: “Isaac”||Cotton ball Ram:Print (or draw- it doesn’t have to be perfect!) a ram. Have your toddler pull apart cotton balls and glue them onto the body of the ram|
Tip: Put glue in a small bowl and have your toddler paint the glue on the body of the ram before putting the cotton balls on!
|Monday, December 7th:“Jacob”||Make your own “pillar”Find some stones to stack, put it somewhere you will see it at least for the next few days and every time you see it say :”God keeps his promises”|
|Tuesday, December 8th:“Joseph”||Coat of many colors: Have your toddler use paint, glue tissue paper/construction paper, or use Do-A-Dot markers to make fill in this colorful coat!|
|Wednesday, December 9th: “Moses”||Burning Bush with Tissue paper|
|Thursday, December 10th:“The Passover Lamb”||Popsicle stick Doorpost: Create a door out of popsicles sticks; paint the doorpost red (idea in book)|
|Friday, December 11th:“The Ten Commandments”||Appearing Commandments:Using a white crayon on white paper, draw two tablets on write the 10 commandments on them. Have your toddler use watercolors to color the tablets and watch the commandments appear (the paint won’t stick where the crayon markings are!)|
|Saturday, December 12th: “Joshua”||Act out the story with your family (idea in book)|
|Sunday, December 13th: “Jonah”||Snack of Whales/Goldfish|
|Monday, December 14th: “Gideon”||Act out the story“Take a flashlight, bucket, and horn or pretend trumpet (a kazoo will also work) and practice being in Gideon’s army. Use your bucket to hide your “torch” until it is time to surprise the MIdianites.” (from book)|
|Tuesday, December 15th:“Ruth”||Wheat Coloring page Tip: have your toddler “paint” glue onto the wheat and sprinkle oats on the glue for a textured painting|
|Wednesday, December 16th:“Samuel”||Prayer for leaders: as a family, pray for your leaders: the President, Governor, Pastor, teachers, etc.|
|Thursday, December 17th:“David”||Fingerprint Sheep Craft|
|Friday, December 18th:“Elijah”||–Color/Paint/Do-A-Dot/glue paper on a heart|
|Saturday, December 19th:“Jeremiah”||“For I know the plans I have for you” Coloring Page|
|Sunday, December 20th:“Habakkuk”||-Color a Feelings Chart.Talk about the different feelings that are on there (and the ones that aren’t).|
“Let’s share our feelings with God and ask Him to help us think and feel like Him.”
|Monday, December 21st:“John the Baptist”||Jesus Paper Sandals Craft|
|Tuesday, December 22nd:“Mary”||Easy Paper Angel Craft|
|Wednesday, December 23rd:“Joseph”||Hammer tees into a box activity (be like Joseph!)|
Click HERE to download my complete 11-page Advent Guide! It includes a blank Advent Plan for you to fill out, the Advent Activity list for you to choose my personal Advent Plan for this year, a detailed daily list of what to do each day during Advent, as well as what you need for each activity!
6) Hold your plans loosely
It’s all good and dandy to have a plan. In fact, I find I get WAY more accomplished with lists and plans… HOWEVER.
MY PERSONAL ATTITUDE.
All of these things happen, guys! Life is messy and never, ever goes perfectly according to our plans (can I get an “amen”!?).
Hold your plan loosely.
Allow margin and space (and patience) for meltdowns, changing of plans, and just plain old forgetting.
Give yourself grace and move on.
And I promise, your kiddos won’t remember that you missed 10 Advent readings in 2020. They’ll only remember that you spent time trying to make Christmas about Jesus. And THAT is worth it, my friends.
I really hope this article was helpful. I pray it helps you plan your family’s Advent season!
Lots of love,