Advent and Kids: 10 Inexpensive Ways to Instill the True Meaning

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We are already about 1 week into Advent, and here I am finally trying to find fun and spiritual things to do with my kids to help them grow up knowing that Christmas is truly about the birth of Dear Lord Baby Jesus instead of Elsa the Ice Queen, candy, movies, mischievous elves, or whatever the hay it is they want Santa to bring them. It can’t be an easy task to achieve in our world today, and since my girls are so young (2.5 and 4 months), I figure the earlier, the merrier. Is that a saying? It just felt festive.

SO here ya go:

10 Cheap Ways to Instill Truth During Advent

1. Pray! Now I know I used the words “cheap” and “inexpensive” but this one is a real winner. I mean, come on, prayer is free! Unless you count the expense of time and energy and trying to get your children to actually pay attention… but we won’t count it because Jesus happens to be worth it. Besides, it’s important to at least set the example of daily prayer, even if our kids aren’t fully participating.

  • I like to start every day with a quick prayer before breakfast, whatever is on my heart. It’s a good opportunity to teach your kids not only to start out the day with prayer, but also how to pray.
  • The Angelus at noon is also a great one to do with kids. It’s fast and easy, and it’s the perfect reminder of The Annunciation and the good news that Jesus is coming! (Got this idea from a great article by Jenny Uebbing over at CNA).
  • I also like the  Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 every day.
  • And of course there is the beautiful, comfort of the Rosary(tends to just put my girls to sleep, which is not always a bad thing).
  • I don’t know about your parish, but ours was given complementary Advent prayer and reflection booklets that are AMAZING! Here is a link of several others that you could order if your church isn’t offering them: https://www.avemariapress.com/category/PM60/Advent-Resources/ We’ve been reading the reflections after the daily readings at our dinner table every evening, which leads me to the next activity

2. Dinner by Candlelight Advent wreath candlelight that is. Advent wreaths are a given when it comes to celebrating the season, but do you take the time to sit down for a family meal most nights and actually light the candles? Try it! Kids love to help light the candles, with caution of course, and there is something so special about enjoying time with your family by the candlelight. My husband always says “the dinner table is a sacred place.” Plus, if you don’t already have an Advent wreath, you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy one. Make your own or buy some cheap candles at the store with some cheap candle holders, or even use whatever you have at home.

3. Advent Calendar This is another that you can easily make yourself or find printable online. Hit up Pinterest if you want to get real crafty. It’s another that children get really excited about. I remember my own anticipation to get to move the little marker on the countdown when it was my turn( I have 5 siblings). Some parents get super creative and make calendars with an activity or craft to do for each day. See this idea here.

4. Baby Jesus Ornament This is something we are going to start this year instead of the popular Elf on the Shelf. We are going to use a small baby Jesus ornament to hide on the tree for our 2 year old to find in the morning. We also thought we could make it a tradition that whoever finds the ornament first on Christmas morning gets to open a present first.

5. Dec. 6th: St. Nicholas’ Feast Day Celebrate the day by teaching your kids about this glorious Saint. We do the Santa Clause thing, but this is a perfect time to establish who this Santa Clause figure is and how he set a tremendous example of generosity for us to live by. Veggie Tales has a fun little movie over St. Nick for the kids to watch. You can also start the old tradition of leaving a shoe out the night before and leave a little surprise for the kids in the morning.

6. Christmas Lights Adventure Many cities have outstanding Christmas light shows to go see, and what’s more is they’re free to attend. Our favorites in Oklahoma are in Yukon an Chickasha. Do some research and find one near you. If it’s not possible, just drive around neighborhoods to look at them and come home to enjoy hot cocoa as a family. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights?

7. Go See/Participate in a Live Nativity Another free and enriching activity that many cities and churches host. It really brings to life the story that we tell our children over and over. It’s just another learning platform to utilize to be sure your kids remember the birth of Jesus. Look for one near you!

8. Volunteer at a Charity Event Every year our diocese does a Christmas shopping event where those who cannot afford gifts can come and pick out gifts and wrap them for their loved ones. It even offers free babysitting while you shop! They always need volunteers and donations. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, you could donate canned goods to the local food pantry, you could ring the bell for Salvation Army. Every parish has multiple opportunities for giving during the Advent season. Make the effort to find something for your family to do together each year.

9. Go to Adoration There is no better way to spend your time than to spend it with Christ’s living body, and what an amazing example for your children! It makes God so incredibly happy that you are willing to take time to be with him both spiritually and physically and that you are introducing your kids to Him. Even if it’s just 10 minutes on your way to get groceries. Take the time to do it. It really makes a difference, and your kids will really come to enjoy it. Trust me! Trust Our Lord! We need this.

10. Go to Reconciliation Another big need! And what a perfect time to be absolved of your sins! We like to go at least once a month, and we aren’t afraid to bring our girls either. Why? One, we are sinners. Two, it’s healing. And three, we want our kids to understand that!  This sacrament is such an amazing one that really ought to be used more. The more you go confess your sins, the more aware you are of what you need to do in order to become closer to God, and the more graces our Father bestows us. Also, I’ve never had a priest get onto me for bringing my little ones in with me. When my husband comes with me, then of course I leave them at the pew with him, but if anything, I think it sets a good example and will hopefully alleviate their nerves for Reconciliation when they get older.

 

Well, there they are! Please leave comments if you and your family have some cheap but meaningful Advent traditions. We’d love to hear!

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. Show me your paths and teach me to follow;
guide me by your truth and instruct me.
 (Psalm 25)

Much love and God bless,

Olivia Swyden

 

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