Growing up my family had “traditional” Advent practices. We would have an advent wreath and we would light candles, read scripture and pray together. Thinking back on that it was a wonderful faith formation opportunity for my family. Since having my own family we have prayed together, we have had an advent wreath and a number of other faith practices with our children.
One of the things we have done every year is an “Advent basket” or as I have called it a “countdown to Christmas basket.” It had 24 presents in it and they were numbered for the days in December and we would start with twenty-four and work our way to one. Most of the presents were dollar store toys and the kids enjoyed opening presents everyday.
This year we decided to do something different. Instead of focusing Advent on presents and counting down we decided to focus on our family and other people. This year we found a wooden tree (pictured above) with 24 drawers. Each drawer there is a “task” that we have to do as a family. Some of the tasks are family oriented (watch a Christmas movie, plan – buy – and make dinner together, craft night etc) and some are reaching out to others (buy a meal for another family, make cookies for neighbors, etc). We hope by doing Advent in this way we will teach the kids (even more than we do now) that Christmas is not only about getting, it is also about giving.