TRADITIONS FROM BC FAMILIES
From the simple to the detailed, may these sample traditions fom families at BC inspire you to pray as a family and create your own ways to celebrate Christ and center on His story this Advent.
“For Advent, we do a new memory verse each day of advent and read Ann Voskamp’s advent book nightly with candle lighting and a Christmas hymn.”
“We do a VERY simple advent calendar and try to do something each day during Advent like a prepared mini-devotional and activity.”
“We do the Shepherd’s Treasure activity—like Elf On The shelf, but the shepherd is searching for Jesus.”
“We put a felt ornament on a felt tree daily starting December 1st until December 25th. As we walk through the story of Jesus’ birth, each ornament representing something to do with Jesus’ birth. We read scriptures that go along with each ornament!”
“We have a nativity that the kids play with! We also make sure to mention how Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and really enjoyed the book and paper chain that BC gave the families last year. We hope to go through the book again this year!”
“We put up a nativity scene and we read the Jesus story.”
“We do Advent readings like Jotham’s Journey, Jesse Tree, etc.”
“We go through the advent calendar together every year!”
“Christmas for us is a month in a half of laughing and loving and giving thanks for all that we have been blessed with and the precious time we have with each other! We light the advent wreath candle every Sunday evening and read through the scriptures for each candle. We sing a stupid amount of Christmas carols everywhere we go all month! And our Christmas season doesn’t end until we celebrate epiphany in January.”
“We sing carols every Christmas eve and each year the children take turns ready the Christmas story. We also reach out to others as a family who are in need!”
“We do a weekly advent practice as a family. It varies what we do, but we have advent candles on our mantle that we use each year. And we do a ton of other things, but advent is one of our favorites!”
“We do an Advent wreath, read 1 special book a day (e.g. Christmas letters to kids book). We also celebrate Hanukkah and Three Kings Day and watch The Star and Dolly Parton’s Christmas Movies (1 & 2)!”
“We go to the Owasso Tree Farm to pick out a tree, cut it down, and bring it home. Mom leaves the house during decorating—nothing puts her in a bad mood like Christmas decorating. Dad blares Michael Buble’s Christmas album and other over the top jingle jangle music. Finally, Cocoa is had.”
“We love participating in Operation Shoebox and reading Bible verses leading up to Christmas that tell the story of the coming of Christ. And we have a Little People nativity set that we have out every year so our kids are familiar with each role in the Christmas story.”
“We have an advent wreath and light the traditional purple and pink candles through the 4 weeks of advent. We follow a nightly devotional when we light the candles each night. We share a specific kind of cookie and have spiced tea on nights that we have more time (like weekends).
On an evening close to Christmas Day, we gather our friends and neighbors to go caroling on our street. The kids bring and play bells and other instruments. We definitely make a joyful noise! Haha. We return to our house afterward, and invite our neighbors that we have caroled for. We share cookies, hot cocoa, Christmas music, and even art projects for the kids back at the house.
Finally, on Christmas morning, we are intentional about going slow and focusing on fellowship and worship before gifts. We make a big, delicious and indulgent breakfast. We light our final advent candle (a white candle at the center of our wreath that stands did Jesus), and we read the advent story and pray. Then we open gifts! The kids get three gifts each from us, and we try to mirror them a bit to be like gold (something they really want and will cherish), frankincense (something for their body, like clothes), and myrrh (something for worship, like a musical instrument, art supplies, or Bible).”
5 FUN ADVENT IDEAS!
#1 ADVENT WREATH & CANDLE
Throughout Christian history, followers of Jesus have celebrated the four weeks leading to Christmas with an Advent wreath and candles. Here are some fun DIY ways to display your candles!
#2 ADVENT CHAIN
This Advent Chain is based off of “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional” by Asheritah Ciuciu. You can do the chain all by itself or accompany it with the daily devotional.
STEP 1: CUT OUT SUPPLIES
Cut out each strip along the dotted lines. Cut the chain base (the gold nativity scene).
STEP 2: CUT OUT BASE
Cut along the dotted line on your chain’s base to create a slot for your first link to slide into. Be careful not to cut to the edges.
STEP 3: ARRANGE STRIPS
Arrange each slip of paper into date order based on the dates written on each slip of paper. This will help make it easier when building the chain.
STEP 4: INSERT FIRST SLIP
Insert the first slip of paper (Dec. 24) through your slot on the chain’s base. You can have the text facing inward or outward depending on what you want. We liked having the text inwards for all the narrow slips of paper with Jesus’ names on it and outward for the theme weeks (like hope and joy).
STEP 5: CLOSE THE RING
Connect the two ends of the strip of paper together using tape or a stapler. This will create a closed loop or ring.
STEP 6: ADD RINGS
Staying in order, connect the second loop of the chain (Dec 24), the third loop of the chain (Dec 23), then the fourth loop of the chain (Dec 22 “LOVE”) and so on.
STEP 7: ADD ALL RINGS
Continue connecting all of your rings until you’ve run out of strips of paper. Ta-da, your Advent chain is complete!
STEP 8: HANG YOUR CHAIN
Now find a spot in the house where you’ll see it every day, and hang it up there. Every day you can find a time as a family to remove your link and talk about it. Have fun!
#3 Star from afar
The Christmas Star From Afar set is a fun and interactive family tradition where you and your kids FOLLOW the STAR leading up to Christmas! Set up the nativity and hide the Star every night. Once your kids find the Star, have them move all Three Wise Men to where the Star has been hidden. Repeat until Christmas Eve. The night before Christmas, place your Star on the top of your nativity stable. On Christmas morning your Three Wise Men reach the nativity scene and find their king, baby Jesus!
#4 ADVENT GUIDES
As a family, you can simply work through an Advent Guide with verses and activities. Two that we love at BC Kids are the Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide and the Minno Advent Family Devotional. Download both here for free. You can easily use it digitally and print out activities as you wish.
#5 Nativity Christmas Countdown
Created by blooger Thirty Handmade Days, this is a fun and easy one! The 12 days leading to Christmas, take a few minutes to focus on the real meaning of Christmas with this activity. Use whatever type of nativity you like. Cut out these 12 tags. Attach them to 12 paper or ziplock bags. In each bag, include the matching nativity piece. Every day, open a bag, discuss, and add to your Nativity scene!
BONUS: FAMILY ADVENT ACTIVITIES
The activities listed below are from the Advent Devoptional, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu. They range from fun-filled family activities to service-oriented projects that you can do with your children or by yourself.
Week One Activities: hope in action
Bake cookies for your mail carrier, garbage collector, or others who regularly care for your needs with little thanks. Write a personal card celebrating the birth of the King of Kings who was born for the high and the lowly.
As you hang ornaments, reflect and talk about how the evergreen trees symbolizes life in the middle of winter even as Jesus is the resurrection and the life. When you glance at the twinkling lights, remember that Jesus is the Light of the World and He calls us to be shining lights in the darkness. Consider making ornaments to remind you of Jesus’ names.
Week Two Activities: Preparation in action
Make snowflakes by cutting out patterns on simple white paper. On one side, write out prayer requests from your family, your community, or around the world. On the other side, write out a Bible verse that speaks to each request. Then hang them around your living room, pausing to pray as you tape each one up, and continuing to pray whenever you walk through your winter wonderland.
Either as a play, a musical, a puppet show, or with a scavenger hunt. If you have little ones, you could practice it several times over the course of Advent, and then stage an event for the grandparents and extended family. Even if you don’t have children at home, consider acting out the story anyway—little details come alive when we place ourselves in the scene.
Memorize a Christmas verse or a verse that features a name of Jesus that has stood out to you this week. Write it out on a piece of paper and carry it with you, or find made-for-you memory cards at www.onethingalone.com/advent.
Gift handmade nativity ornaments. You could draw a little nativity scene, a star, or write out a name of Jesus. Or, if you’re more artistic, draw a lion, a lamb, a shepherd, or a vine. You could make an entire set of coordinating ornaments based on the names of Jesus.
Write a letter to Jesus, responding to what you’ve learned about Him this week. Thank Him for who He is, confess any sins that have accumulated in your life, and ask Him to give you a deeper love and understanding of Him. Then surrender any area of your life that is hurting this Christmas season, and ask Him to fill you with His joy.
Week three Activities: Joy in action
What Christmas was like when they were kids. Share family memories together, and consider how the joy of Jesus’ birth—the Alpha and Omega—has been a continuous cause for celebration year after year, even though customs and traditions may change.
Go caroling in your neighborhood to bring the joy of Jesus’ birth to your surrounding community. You can also visit nursing homes, police and fire stations, hospitals, and homeless shelters. This doesn’t have to be long or complicated—just a few gospel-centered songs on joy-filled lips can make a world of a difference in someone’s life.
Watch a movie about the nativity of Jesus and ponder which of His Names are represented in the film. Then discuss together what stood out to you this year that you may not have noticed before.
Listen to international Christmas music and dance joyfully in worship to King. Celebrate the diversity of tribes and languages who all join together to proclaim the joy of Jesus’ birth.
Cheer when you drive by nativity displays in town, helping you remember the true reason for this Christmas season. You may even write out a note to thank them and place it in their mailbox.
Week four Activities: love in action
Write a letter to each of your children recounting a special Christmas memory. Describe the scene in vivid detail, sharing what they were wearing, what smells were in the air, who else was there, and how you felt. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, allow love to lace your words together.
Bake a birthday cake for Jesus, the Son of Man, who left the splendor of heaven to take on human flesh. Encourage your children to think of ways they might say “Happy Birthday” to Jesus by showing love to someone around them.
Have a hot (chocolate) date with your spouse, to reconnect and rekindle the romance in the midst of this busy season. Celebrate what’s going well, and look for opportunities to affirm them and speak words of love over their life.
Tape $1 in quarters on washers in a laundromat to serve those who may be going through hardship. As you do, pray that Jesus, the Man of Sorrows would make His presence known to them through your simple act of kindness, and that they would feel part of their own burden lifted.
Set up a hot cocoa stand for the homeless in your car or van and drive around the city handing out cups of warmth and words of love. Wish them a Merry Christmas, and remind them that Jesus, our Good Shepherd sees them and loves them.
Shovel a neighbor’s driveway or do some unexpected yard work, praying for them with every move. If they join you outside, ask them to share their own favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Consider sharing what you’ve learned through your readings in this advent devotional, and look for opportunities to speak the truth of Jesus’ love into their lives.