An Invitation:

Do something each day to celebrate the approach of Christmas.

What this looks like for me:

I love traditions. Growing up, my sister and I were sticklers for them—if my parents did something once on or around a holiday, it was a tradition and we had to do it every year after. We ate the same kind of fudge, listened to the same CD while we decorated the tree. We played the same card game in bed while my parents got ready on Christmas morning. All those tiny traditions built up into some wonderful childhood memories, and I want to help my boys (now 2 and 6) build memories of their own.

Inspired by a friend, after my oldest was born I created a calendar with one activity to do each day throughout Advent. (Our advent calendar is made out of paper envelopes, but you can use anything!) Some activities require advanced planning, others are very simple. Some are thought-provoking, many are just fun. What I love about this is it forces me to slow down on work and other things for a month and spend a lot of time with my kids.

This year I collected input from friends and family and put together the list below. I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!

Advent is also a time for listening with hope and longing as the darkness deepens. Last year I wrote a bit about what my time with God looks like in this season, and you can read about that here.

Advent Ideas


Cut a ring from paper chain

Read a winter/Christmas book (library!)

Read from All Creation Waits (or another devotional) and talk about what we can learn, draw a picture and write a word (Or use coloring template!)

Hide (and find) a star and get a piece of the nativity when kids find it

Specific Dates:

Make a paper chain countdown (first day of Advent)

SUNDAYS: Read Scripture and light Advent candles (4)

St. Nicholas’ Day--open stockings and talk about St. Nick (origin story of Santa Claus)

Church Christmas Event(s)

Cut a Christmas tree

City tree lighting

Solstice sunset hike

Make Stuff:

Make Christmas cookies

Make awards for best Christmas lights

Wrap Christmas presents

Make ornaments as gifts

Make a gingerbread house

Make Christmas cards for family

Christmas Lego set (same set each year)

Try a Christmas recipe from another country, learn about and pray for them

Decorate outdoors

Decorate Christmas tree/inside

Holiday Jello

Make gifts for friends: holiday playdoh, coloring books

Plant seeds as an act of waiting

Make Christmas pancakes for breakfast (green and red)

Make a nativity (popsicle sticks? clay?)

Other Christmas art projects?

Be Generous:

Bake cookies for neighbors and deliver

Deliver a surprise gift to a neighbor

Deliver mini candy canes to neighbors

Take coffee to someone who needs it (teacher, friends)

Give toys/books away (3 wise men story)

Give cards/cookies/truffles to neighborhood folks: mail carrier, restaurants, coffee shops, UPS store, dry cleaners, nail salon, the crossing guards, garbage collector, street sweeper

Box of water and treats on the front step for package delivery folks

Operation Christmas Child/Angel Tree/Shoebox shopping

Pick out food for a food bank

Go places:

Drive to look at Christmas Lights with jammies and hot chocolate (and give awards)

Go for a hike

Ice skating

Box sledding or ice blocking

Go see a live nativity

Visit a model railway (Larkey Park)

Tilden Park sunset, Redwood Railway and Carousel

Zoo lights

Visit a giant Christmas tree


Read the Jesus Storybook Bible Christmas story

Watch a Christmas movie (Elf, Polar Express, The Snowman, Peanuts’ Christmas, Home Alone)

Tea or hot chocolate and Christmas books

Lunch or dinner picnic by the Christmas tree

Evening game(s) by the Christmas tree

Make paper snowflakes

Christmas Madlib

Christmas coloring books/free printable coloring pages

Holiday puzzle

Pajama Christmas Music Dance party

Listen to Christmas music

Set up the nativity

Read Luke 1:26-38 (Jesus’ Birth Foretold)

Read Luke 1:48-58 (Mary’s Song)

Read Luke 2:1-21 (Jesus’ Birth)

Go on a night walk and look at Christmas lights

Sing Christmas Carols

Christmas activity books/joke books