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How to Create an Advent Experience for Kids.



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One of my most vivid memories of the holiday season growing up was running downstairs every morning to check the Advent calendar hung on the wall. It’s a tradition my mom started with us early. Each morning, we’d open up a new flap of the cardboard calendar and read the verse or part of the Christmas story for the day. It was a rhythm that began on December 1 and ended on Christmas Day.

As Lane and I started to grow our family, I knew I wanted to incorporate the magic and joy of Advent into our home. That’s one of the coolest parts of raising a family– deciding which traditions will be your traditions and the staples of your home together.

As you can probably tell from my Advent series, I love this season and all that it means.

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.”

During this season, we engage in Advent to plant great expectations in our hearts for the birth of a baby in a manger, the Christ who we believe changed all of history.

This year will be the first year we celebrate Advent with Novalee. She is still under two, so I don’t anticipate she will fully “get it,” but I know she will enjoy the excitement of checking the Advent calendar every morning to see what is waiting for her.

From ages 1-5 is when a child’s brain is the spongiest. She is soaking up everything around her and keeping it stored in her noggin. So I know she will pocket parts of this season and savor them for years to come. It will be a tradition we follow throughout childhood.

I bought this Advent calendar at Crate and Barrel. It was a little more than I would typically spend on an Advent, but the goal is that we will use it for years to come. This calendar allows us to fill the pockets with parts of the Christmas Story and little trinkets all season long.

If you have little ones, there are ways for you to incorporate the beauty of the Christmas Story into a fun Advent tradition!

Start with an Advent calendar or make your own.

There is no lack of options in the stores for Advent calendars. It seems everyone is producing Advent calendars- Disney, Sesame Street, Jo Jo Siwa.

I would ask myself: What is the reason for this season in my heart? What is the one thing I want to make sure the kids know about this season as they grow up?

We want Novalee to know the reason for Christmas. We want her to love Jesus and celebrate his birth. We want her to love others and be giving and charitable. We want her to know that to love Jesus is always to love everyone in your orbit. Whatever your reason, make sure the Advent calendar hanging in your home reflects that.

Fun ways to fill the pockets.

Our Advent calendar has small pockets, so we are filling each pocket with a bit of trinket or fun experience for that day. Some of the charms we are putting in the Advent calendar this year:

  • Bubble bath paint

  • Coloring book

  • Light-up bouncy ball

  • Ornaments

  • Stickers

  • Festive candy

  • Little dolls

I got most of these things from the $1 section at Target. We don’t choose to put anything more significant than a stocking stuffer into the pockets of the Advent. The trinkets are meant to be fun but not the main thing.

Tell the story however you can.

Novalee is going to be 20 months when Advent rolls around. She will not understand the story fully, but there is no reason we can’t still tell her the story, so she begins to take it all in.

We have a wooden nativity I bought years ago that we set up each season. This year, I set up the stable, but there is no one inside yet.

One pocket of the Advent calendar holds the farm animals.

One pocket of the Advent calendar holds Mary + Joseph.

One pocket of the Advent holds the Wisemen + shepherds.

One pocket of the Advent (Christmas Day) holds Baby Jesus.

As she pulls characters from the pocket for that day, we put the characters in the stable and tell her that piece of the Christmas story.

One of her pockets does have a board book of the Christmas Story so that will be another element where she learns our true reason for celebration.

On day 23, I placed cupcake wrappers in the pocket. Novi loves to bake with us, so, together, we’ll bake some cupcakes to celebrate baby Jesus. On day 24, I placed a single birthday candle in the pocket! We will take the cupcakes to our Christmas Eve celebration for everyone to enjoy, but we will make sure we sing happy birthday to Jesus first.

This tradition is another sweet ode to my childhood. I have such vivid memories of us all singing to baby Jesus on Christmas Eve and blowing out the candles before devouring a chocolate cake. I’ve waited a long time to be able to do this with my babe!

Giving to others + one another.

This element is significant for me. My mom raised me to know the Holiday season was a season for giving, not getting. At a young age, I started going to food banks, dancing in charity events, and collecting toys for kids who wouldn’t have as extravagant of a Christmas that year. If I want Novi to know anything, it’s that we are blessed so we can bless others with our time, our finances, and our gifts.

In the Advent calendar, we will have an experience where she will go shopping for other kids. She will pick out toys for them, and we’ll explain to her the importance of giving to others.

I’ve also filled some pockets of the calendar with gifts for others. Novi will get a chance to give a cool, little present to daddy and her dog Tuesday during the Advent experience. Through this gifting, she can start to learn the joy of giving.

Experiences > Everything

Trinkets are fun, but I know the actual memories of this season will be the time we spend together– being present and in the moment.

We intentionally add little “dates,” as we’re calling them to some of the pockets.

They have little invites on them like:

Let’s go see the lights.


Let’s make some cookies together today! (I bought a cookie scooper for this pocket).

So quickly, the season can become about things beneath the tree. We hope to pepper this year with lots of memories and chances to be together.

I hope these tricks and tips will help you create your own unique Advent experience with your kids. As Novi gets older, the Advent will become less about the trinkets and more about the story of Christmas.

The story of newborn King.

The story of a great star.

The story of wanderers coming– from far and wide– to see the hope of the world laying in a manger.

I know so many of us are craving joy and peace this time of year. Amid uncertain circumstances, we can create pockets of that joy and peace to share with others. I’m praying this Advent experience will be one that floods our lives and yours with joy, togetherness, and many memories for years to come.

I’d love to hear from you:

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Brooke says:

    Thank you for sharing how you plan to share advent with your sweet girl! This gave me some great ideas on things to try out with my boys!

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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