28 Family Advent Activities Your Kids Will Love

28 Family Advent Activities Your Kids Will Love

Lighting the Advent wreath

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Looking for Advent ideas? Here’s an awesome collection of simple family Advent activities. We‘ve rounded up the best wreaths, calendars, crafts and simple rituals to celebrate Advent and the Winter solstice. Easy and simple is perfect for this busy time of year!  Build memories that last a lifetime.

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The beauty of Advent

Advent is one of my favorite seasons. It provides a quiet oasis of peace in the midst of the Christmas craziness.

Advent invites us to stop and take a breath.

Instead of fretting over endless lists we can slow down the season. Savor it and embrace the ritual of preparations. When my boys were still home I usually had elaborate plans for Advent, but these tended to slip past me in the hustle of busy family life.

Still we always found time to enjoy some simple traditions that didn’t take a lot of time and preparation. And that worked really well for us.

I have gathered together a few simple family Advent activities. None of them require a lot of preparation or expense. The first Sunday of Advent is almost upon us, so easy and simple is good!

How Do Families Celebrate Advent?

Have fun. Celebrate. Enjoy the season, but don’t overwhelm your schedule. The idea is to make memories and encourage family connections, not create extra stress! Look through our Advent ideas for families, pick a couple and then enjoy a simple and meaningful Advent.

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1. Lighting Up the Darkness

Light is an important part of our celebrations at this time of year. It probably goes back to ancient winter solstice rituals celebrating the return of the sun.

These practices were adopted by the early church who chose this time of year to mark the coming of Jesus (the Light of the World). During this season we also have the Jewish Hanukkah and Kwanza an African American holiday. Both celebrations involve the lighting of candles.

Candles, lanterns, lights all make great family Advent activities. Here are some great ideas for lighting up the darkness.

family advent activities lighting the wreath
My three boys around the Advent Wreath

Make and Light an Advent Wreath

An Advent wreath is a tradition that comes to us from the church. If you are interested you can learn more here.

  • Yellow Bliss Road has published some lovely photographs of very simple Advent wreath. If you prefer to use the more traditional circular shape simply use a round plate or tray.
  • Michelle at A Mommy’s Adventure has instructions for making a hand print Advent wreath from hand prints. What a lovely way to make a family wreath that is safe for younger children to play with.
  • Sun Hats and Wellie Boots show you how to make a traditional Advent wreath using natural materials.
  • The Kids Craft Room has some instructions for making simple Advent candles
family advent activities: ice lanterns

Make Lanterns

Ice lanterns are the best thing to use outdoors. They are easy to make and look gorgeous. You will find instructions over at Steam Family.  If you would like to add some colour try these

Votive jar lights are great for indoors. Hop over to Buggy and Buddy to fin out how to make a lantern from a mason jar. Try making a tin can lantern or baby food candle jars. If you don’t have time to make one, you can still enjoy a candle. Pop it inside one a purchased lantern.

Using Candles in Advent

Make December special by lighting candles a little more often. Candles help create a magical atmosphere of connection. When we light a candle, we send a message that our time is special, and we want to connect. Light a candle at supper, story times, or for family rituals.

Here’s  a special family candle lighting ritual for the winter solstice.

Lighting a peace candle

Light a candle for peace

Gather around a candle. Light it and explain that all around the world people light candles as a sign of their hopes for peace.

Play or sing Light a Candle For Peace. Preschoolers will love to sing along.

Light a Candle for Peace
Watch this video on YouTube.

Ask older children to look at the candle and imagine what it would be like to live in a world where there was no more fighting or arguing. Afterwards invite the children to say one way they could show kindness in the world. Affirm them with the word, “(Child’s name) you are a peacemaker.”

Safety tips: Obviously children should be carefully supervised around lit candles and keep lighters out of reach. If you are worried about naked flames, use candles inside a lantern with a little door like this one. Use a simple candle snuffer to extinguish the candles. It prevents hot wax splashing on tender skin. Children love using them!

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2. Countdown to Christmas

Advent calendars make for an easy family Advent activities. They are a wonderful way to help children countdown the days until Christmas. You could simply go out and buy one and there is nothing wrong with that. If you want to make something unique choose one of these ideas.

  • Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar free printable.
  • The Waldorf family published some pictures of a lovely home sewn Advent Spiral.To simplify draw a large spiral on blue or purple card stock. Stick 24 self-adhesive stars along the spiral.
  • Head over to Spell Outloud to find instructions for making a simple Advent chain. This link includes a free download for the chain links.
  • I love this fun Advent Activity Tree from  The Imagination Tree.

3. Practice Kindness

Advent is the perfect time of year to do some acts of kindness as a family. It helps shifts the focus to giving than receiving.

Advent giving Jar

Brush thin white glue (mix with a little water) onto a clean glass jar and cover with tissue paper squares.

Repeat until the entire jar is covered. Brush on another layer of glue and leave to dry. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar. Use the jar to collect money. At the end of Advent roll and count the money. Perhaps you could use it to give the gift of a Kiva Loan.

Preparing the manger

Display a small manger somewhere in your home. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. A small cardboard box will suffice and shredded paper makes an easy substitute for hay. Children may enjoy painting the box to make it special for baby Jesus. Place the hay in a large bag.

Once the manger is in place, invite children to help prepare it for the baby Jesus. Have them add a big handful of straw to Baby Jesus’s manger every time they do something kind or helpful. On Christmas Eve, children can place a small figure of Baby Jesus (doll) in the soft bed of hay.

Kindness elves

Kindness Elves

Start a new family tradition this holiday season with the magic of the Kindness Elves.  This wonderful alternative to the elf on the shelf will put the emphasis back on giving. Kindness Elves come into your home at the start of Advent and each day they encourage your children to do small acts of kindness. Get more details here.

Related: Looking for other ways to reach out and help others? Take a look at our Christmas Acts of Kindness.

Try Some Different Family Advent Activities

Decorate a Yule Tree

In the times of the druids, evergreen trees were decorated with ornaments and offerings. People decorated the tree with things that represented their hopes of the new year. Love charms, fruits, nuts, and coins were popular – representing love, successful harvest, fertility and wealth.

Revisit  this ancient tradition by decorating a tree in your yard. Wilder Child suggests we make it an act of kindness by creating edible ornaments for the animals to enjoy.

Decorating oranges an old family Advent activity

Decorate With Oranges

An orange can symbolize the return of the sun. Try making orange pomanders on the winter solstice. They smell divine and make lovely gifts. Here is a simple tutorial. Alternatively dry some orange slices to make to natural decorations.

For More Fun: Make Some Christmas treats. We gathered some fabulous recipes that children can make for themselves.

4. Enjoy Some Fun Daily Activities

Simple things that are done every day make wonderful family Advent activities. The following ideas do not require much preparation, but will make this time special.

Mary and Joseph Travel to Bethlehem

If you have a nativity scene, set up the stable in a central location. Tell the story of the journey Mary and Joseph had to make to Bethlehem. Start Mary and Joseph on their long journey by placing them some distance from the stable. Every day move them closer to the stable, until they arrive on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Storytime

Gather your Christmas books and maybe borrow a few new ones from the library. Place them in a small basket or storage container by your Christmas tree. Each night sit by the tree and read 2-3 books.  You don’t need a lot of books, because children love to hear the same stories over and over.

Related: Read a beautiful Christmas picture book and make a simple ornament.

Want to make it really easy? Snuggle on the sofa and listen to an audio book with your kids. Try The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for younger children or The Christmas Carol for older ones.

family advent activities

A few more resources

Advent Conspiracy and Simplify the Holidays both promote a Christmas celebration  focused on people rather than stuff. They have some great suggestions.

My book Advent A-Z

A few years back I was privileged to co-author an Advent Devotional book for families.

Each day explores an Advent-related word that begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. There is a short reading and suggestions for all kinds of simple activities .

It is available in as an e-book, so you can download it and start using it immediately.

Your Turn

Do you celebrate Advent as a family? What special traditions do you have? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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14 thoughts on “28 Family Advent Activities Your Kids Will Love”

  1. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    A friend has just wrapped up 24 books to read each night and I’m going to borrow that idea – kids will get a kick out of it I reckon!

  2. Sarah from Creating Contentment

    We do an activity based advent calendar to count down the days to Christmas that fosters togetherness and the giving that should be intrinsic to the season.

    1. I love those activity based Advent calendars. They are a wonderful way to bring families together.

  3. I run a home daycare, so we’re doing an activities-based 24 day count-down (even on the weekends when they aren’t here) and then also doing 24 books and a 12 day “Waldorf advent spiral” with my daughter.
    Yesterday, we read a lovely Alfie book, painted our own aprons, and made shortbread!

    1. I’d love to know more about the Waldorf Advent spiral. That sounds very intriguing. Your daycare sounds like a fun place! It also sounds as if you are doing some wonderful activities with your daughter 🙂

  4. I love the idea of a random acts of kindness advent calendar. My kids just have a chocolate advent calendar – might re-think this for next year :). Thanks for linking up with Mummy Mondays. #TeamMM

  5. Great ideas there. We are using our elf to do an act of kindness each day, which so far has been lovely.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

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