Christmas is coming. I don’t want to alarm you, but there are only 100 days until the day is upon us. Surely that fact has made your brain twist and turn with all the things that need to be done before Christmas morning. There are presents to buy! There are decorations to dig out! There are work Christmas parties coming up! There’s so much to do. But as the busyness of this Christmas business settles upon us, it’s wise to take some time to think about advent and how to focus our hearts and minds on the Word become flesh in the midst of the madness.
The thing is that we often only think about families with children when it comes to advent, but let’s think a little broader this time around. All of church is one big family so we’ll be thinking through how to do more, together and apart.
Here we go. Six ways to celebrate advent, together and apart, that you can make sure are ready now so you’re not scrambling around later among buying all those presents for relatives you somehow managed to forget.
- Advent Calendar
There are chocolate advent calendars that count down the days until Christmas… but there’s a few around that help you focus all the more on Jesus. I’ve ordered one from Sweet Honeycomb that’s all about the different names of Jesus and it comes with a daily email that unpacks the name a little more.
We’ve got a photo wall that the string and cards will fit right into, and I’m excited to flip a new card over each day and see what it says in the lead up to Christmas. I’m particularly excited about this because it fits in with life. With people coming over and having meals or just chatting we can flip over a card and spend some time thinking and praying together. It’s a perfect way to include anyone who happens to be in the house – kids or adults – in what Christmas is all about. You can pick one up for $20, and as a bonus, it’s locally made and designed! Buy one here.
2. Decoration a Day
This is a similar idea to the advent calendar, but has potential for families particularly.
Have a crafty day of making decorations – a star, an angel, some animals, a crown… the possibilities are endless. Use things from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth and each day put up a decoration, let the kids and parents and the guests take turns, and talk about what it means. It’s a good way to tell a beautiful story and to tell it together. This is one that I think I want to do for children’s ministry in the next term! If you’re time poor, jump onto Etsy or eBay and find some decorations that fit what you’re after. Tell the story of Jesus’ birth, day by day, with your tree. (As an aside, if someone made this as a day by day product, I’d buy it. Any takers? Does it already exist?)
3. Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf is a little creepy, if you ask me, but this is a fun way to get kids involved each and every day as they wake up. There are ways to use the elf to communicate something of the gospel message, though. As they find the Elf each day, put a letter in the hands of the elf that’s a passage of Scripture that’s about the coming Messiah – about who Jesus will be! Each and every day a picture will build of who Jesus is and those prophecies are important as we engage with Christmas each year. People waited a long time for this child to be born… and He was!
4. Family Dinner
You’ve heard before about the table that I love so much, and this December it’ll be the place where more people gather again. My immediate family is The James, but the rest of my family is so broad. I’m excited to have people gathering around to celebrate the Word become flesh. There wont be much formality – just a table and decorations and conversation and friends – but Christmas is a cause for celebration and when we invite people into our homes and celebrate together, as God’s gathered people, it reminds us that when Jesus came into the world He came to redeem us so that we could be His people – together. Invite people over, share a meal and share stories of Christmas’ both good and bad… and remember Jesus together!
5. Write Cards
This is for everyone – write cards! Sit down and spend time, daily or one day a week, and write out cards to remind people of Jesus’ birth. Send them, or deliver them, every week and as you do it you’ll be reminding yourself too. It’s a unique gift to someone to have people sit down and consider them, then follow through and deliver those words. Kids can do it, parents can do it, young adults can, seniors can… anyone can do it. Sit down, write. If you need some cards, you can pick some up from Matthias Media!
6. Make Presence the Greatest Present
Finally, make your presence the greatest present people receive. It’s easy to spend family time and friend time and all the time caught up in the busyness, but try to be as organised as possible so that you can be with people without buzzing around. For me that means from July I buy presents every few weeks and store them away as Christmas comes closer because otherwise they’d consume my priorities (and our budget) all December. Do what you need to do to make sure you can be there with people, and so that your focus can be on what matters – on Christ first, and others second.
There you have it. Six ways to do advent, with your family and friends and church. Are there any that I missed that you love? I want to hear them!
(None of this is sponsored.)