What’s an Advent Calendar, and Why Should Your Family Use One?

    What’s an advent calendar, and why should your family use one?
    If you’ve overwhelmed by the busy, chaotic, hectic holidays, then you need an advent calendar! It not only helps you remember the reason for the season, but it allows you to slow down to form family memories and build anticipation toward Christmas day.
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    Dear busy Mama, Christmas is a busy season! I’m sure you find yourself overwhelmed with the shopping, gifts, parties, baking and family. Do you want (need?) to to slow down and focus on the true meaning behind Christmas?

    I have a great recommendation that will allow you to count down the days until Christmas in anticipation while centering your family on the reason for the season.

    An advent calendar.

    What is an advent calendar?

    An advent calendar is a calendar containing small numbered flaps, boxes, or windows. One is opened on each day during Advent. Typically there is a piece of candy, Scripture, or toy inside. The purpose of an advent calendar is to build up anticipation toward Christmas day when Jesus was born.

    The invention of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah and Savior in the Christian beliefs. Advent is the season leading up to Christmas, typically the 24 days prior to December 25.

    Advent is translated to mean the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Christians celebrate Advent as the commemoration of the birth of their Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore an advent calendar is simply a tool to countdown the days during the advent season. As a byproduct, you and your kiddos can also build anticipation toward Christmas day!

    Why should I use an advent calendar?

    You simply follow the calendar beginning on December first through December twenty fourth. Each day you open one window, box, envelope, etc. Some calendars include a small candy in each window. Others have a page inside that gradually tell the story of Jesus. Some people write down one Christmas-y activity per day and stick in inside of their calendar.

    That sounds simple enough, right? But oh, Busy Mama, I understand that task may be more difficult to achieve than it sounds!

    More than anything else, participating in Advent and using an advent calendar is a method to slow down and have intentional time with your little ones during this chaotic season. Take a break after dinner or before bedtime to spend a few minutes engaging in this family pastime.

    Cherish the moments when little fingers pull open a window, or when tiny mouths enjoy a sweet treat, or when blossoming minds ask questions about the Savior named Jesus, or when you get asked the ultimate question, “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”

    How do I use an advent calendar?

      1. Find a calendar. It only takes a basic google search to comprehend the endless options of advent calendars. Some have chocolate while others have toys inside. Some are are tabletop sized while others hang on the wall. Some are for small children while others are a devotional reading for older ones.
        I personally love my Kurt Adler Wooden Nativity Advent Calendar with 24 Magnetic Pieces. It is a beautiful Christmas decoration, yet it explains the birth of Jesu…and it even holds an extra piece of chocolate in each drawer. (because we all need extra candy at Christmas!) 
      2. Plan your time. Select a time that will be easy to commit to, no matter how hectic your day has been.
        For our family, we do our advent calendar right after dinner.
      3. Personalize your advent time. What’s most meaningful to your family? Which traditions are best for your younger kids or older children? Do you want to create special memories during these celebrations?
        Here’s how our family celebrates advent in our own personal style: First we turn off all of the lights except for the Christmas tree. We sit beside the tree and light the candles on our advent wreath. We read from an Advent devotional. Then we open the door on our advent calendar. Next we open our Christmas cards. We end our advent time by seeing a Christmas carol and saying a family prayer. This typically takes 10-15 minutes per evening.

    Don’t let this special season pass you by with parties and food and gifts galore. Although all of those are good things, they are distractions from the ultimate purpose of Christmas: to remember the birth of our Savior.

    Gather up your children and sit around your tree. Build the tradition of Advent and solidify precious memories that will last a lifetime and continue year after year.

    Merry (early) Christmas!