Longing for Hope: A Simple Guide to Advent

Advent season is upon us and it is my favorite time of year! Maybe you are asking, “What is advent?”

I’m sure you’ve heard the word “advent” quite a bit lately. Perhaps you’ve heard it in your church or floating around on social media. But if you didn’t grow up in church like me, or perhaps your church didn’t participate much in advent, you may be feeling out of the loop or even overwhelmed. Don’t fret! Here is a simple definition of advent:

Advent is a glorious time when Christians celebrate in anticipation as we await the birth of Christ. It also serves as a reminder for the waiting in anticipation for Christ’s final return. 

Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. This year’s start date for advent was November 29th. So as of this week, we have celebrated 2 advent Sundays so far. 

It’s not too late! There’s still a little time to celebrate advent this year or implement some of this information for next year.

Below you will find simple, slow, and Christ enriched information and activities to help you and your family celebrate Advent any year.

The Advent Wreath

When you hear the word wreath, you may automatically think of a green wreath that hangs on a door. While many use a typical evergreen wreath as their Advent wreath, that’s not your only option. In fact our family’s wreath is not an evergreen wreath, but is instead a small ceramic wreath that is beautifully decorated. 

The Advent wreath is a symbol of the season. Evergreen shows life found within the dead of winter. This symbolizes the life we have with Jesus Christ despite the death which lays within our sinfulness. The circle shape of the wreath symbolizes God‘s everlasting love for us and eternal life He offers us. 

There are 4 candles in a traditional advent wreath that are circled around the wreath. Each has its own meaning and each one is lit according to the Sunday it falls on. 

First Sunday: Hope. This candle symbolizes the hope we have in the birth of our savior.  It symbolizes the hope we have been given of life and not death.

Second Sunday: Love. This candle symbolizes the love that Jesus Christ has for us. The everlasting, unfailing, and powerful love of Jesus Christ.

Third Sunday: Joy. This candle symbolizes the joy we have that only Christ can give us. It’s the joy we have in knowing that Jesus Christ came for all of us. 

Fourth Sunday: Peace. This candle symbolizes the peace that Jesus brings to the world.

Some light a 5th candle on Christmas Day that symbolizes Jesus!

The light of the candle flames reminds us who Jesus is. 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”- John 1:4-5 

This is my family’s advent wreath:

You can even make a wreath out of paper and decorate it with your children! This is the paper wreath my boys and I are working on:

Advent Activities

Some choose to do weekly activities for advent and others do daily activities. You can do whatever best suits your family! 

We do daily activities and follow along with Focus on the Family’s free advent activity calendar “Knowing Him by Name: the names of Jesus Christ”.  Focus on the Family has a free advent activity calendar they release online each year. I highly recommend checking out this year’s calendar at the link at the bottom. You can also read one of these Bible verses to your family each day. It’s a good place to begin for a family with very young kiddos or for those who are new to advent. 

Remember, it’s whatever works best for your family. The simplicity of reading the Bible and acknowledging what Christmas is truly about is a beautiful gift to your family!  

Other Advent Activity Ideas:

  • Make and send a Christmas card to someone who can use a smile.  
  • Bake cookies!
  • Drink hot cocoa! 
  • Decorate your child’s bedroom door with wrapping paper and make a Christmas greeting sign such as “Merry Christmas” or “Jesus is the reason for the season!” 
  • Make cinnamon ornaments. Mix 1 cup or ground cinnamons down 1 cup of applesauce. Kneed together and roll out flat. Use cookie cutters to make your shape. Bake at 200° for 2-2.5 hours.
  • Go through toys and clothing and donate any unwanted items.
  • Give your home a good cleaning as a reminder of the clean and pure heart of Jesus. 
  • Watch “The Star” movie.
  • Listen to a few Christmas hymns and let your littles dance!
  • Have a family picnic in front of the Christmas tree
  • Grab some cozy blankets and sit down on the couch to read a Christmas book!
  • Hop in the car and go looking for Christmas lights!
  • Gather any extra or unused towels and blankets and donate them to your local animal shelter.
  • Hide Candy Cane‘s around your home for your children to find. 
  • Bundle up and go outside at night to look at the beautiful stars in the sky. Remind your children that the shepherds were also looking at the night sky when Jesus was born.
  • Grab some popcorn and have a Christmas movie night. 
  • Dress up and put on the play of the Christmas story. Your children can dress up as the Shepherd ‘s, or Mary and Joseph, or the Wiseman. Use a baby doll and pretend that they were there on the wonderful night Jesus was born! 
  • Call or FaceTime a family family member or friend.
  • Play a boardgame! 
  • Use cotton balls, glue, and construction paper to make a sheep as a reminder of the shepherds who were simply tending to their flock that night.
  • Declare that today is red and green day! Ask everyone to dress in red or green. Don’t worry about matching- just have fun!
  • Read the story of Jesus‘s birth from Luke 1:26-2:21. 

I pray that you and your family make a lot of wonderful memories this season. I also pray that you are able to truly focus on what this season is about, despite the chaos of the world all around us. 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 

Kal-le is a wife and mama living in beautiful West Virginia. She has a passion for worshipping Jesus, sharing God’s truth with others, and writing about her own personal sin struggles. Kal-le serves her family full-time at home where she aims to glorify God in the everyday moments of life. You can follow her on Instagram @mama__schrader.