An activity Advent calendar
You and the families you work with might already have Advent calendars all sorted. But how about trying an activity Advent calendar? This list of ideas helps families find things to do together and also encounter the Christmas story for themselves as the get ready for the big day. Copy this list and give it out the families in your church and groups. Use it as a way to catch up with families who might not come to church regularly.
1 December: Make pompoms to hang on your Christmas tree. As you work, chat about what you like about Christmas. If you have time, make a pompom for a friend or neighbour.
2 December: Go searching through your house for cans of food that you can donate to a foodbank or old, good-quality clothes you could donate to a shelter or charity shop.
3 December: Go outside and find things that you can decorate your house with: greenery, pine cones, holly with berries etc. Talk about what Christmas is about and why you celebrate the festival.
4 December: In a Bible or children’s Bible story book, read the story of Mary and the angel (Luke 1:26–38). Talk about the special message the angel gives Mary – what do you think it means?
5 December: Say hello to people as you go about your family life: perhaps the person at the supermarket checkout, the bus driver or the people on the next table at a café. Wish them a happy Christmas!
6 December: Find out if there’s a local children’s charity collecting presents for those who don’t have any. Chat about whether you can donate anything. Why might you do so?
7 December: Read Mary’s happy song from the Bible (Luke 1:46–55). Then sing your favourite Christmas song together.
8 December: Write a Christmas card to a person who has helped you this year – a teacher, someone at church, a relative or friend. If you were writing a card to God what would you say?
9 December: Light a candle and look at it for a time. As you do so, ask the children what is on their minds. If you are a praying family, ask God to help you with those things now.
10 December: Make some Christmas biscuits, using festive cutters. As you bake and decorate them, decide who you might give some biscuits to as a present.
11 December: In a Bible or children’s Bible story book, read the story of Joseph and the angel (Matthew 1:18–24). Talk about the special message the angel gives Joseph – what do you think it means?
12 December: Play your favourite party games. Think about the things you enjoy about Christmas. Thank God for them (and for the games too!).
13 December: Go to see a local Christmas display – this could be at a church, shopping centre or somewhere in your town. Enjoy the sights and sounds, and chat about what you see.
14 December: Make a nativity set and talk about all the different characters as you make them.
15 December: Only ten days until Christmas! Read the story of the birth of Jesus from a children’s Bible story book or from Luke 2:1–7 in a Bible.
16 December: Visit an elderly relative, friend or neighbour. Spend some time talking with them, including asking them what they like about Christmas!
17 December: Make a birthday cake for Jesus! As you work wonder together about why Jesus was born. Try to remember what the angels said about him to Mary and Joseph.
18 December: In a Bible or children’s Bible story book, read the story of the shepherds (Luke 2:8–21). If you were one of the shepherds, what would you have thought?!
19 December: Make some paper chain decorations for your home. On each link of the chain, write the name of someone you care for. Whenever you walk under/past the chain, thank God for one of the people written on a link.
20 December: Read the stories of Simeon and Anna from a children’s Bible storybook or from Luke 2:22–38 in the Bible. They waited a long time to meet Jesus!
21 December: Make a den out of blankets and cushions, get some snacks and watch a Christmas film all together.
22 December: In a Bible or children’s Bible story book, read the story of the wise men (Matthew 2:1–12). Why do you think the wise men travelled so far to see Jesus?
23 December: Organise a Christmas tea party and invite family, friends and neighbours. Enjoy welcoming people into our home. You don’t need lots of fancy food, just enjoy being together!
24 December: Read the whole Christmas story from a Bible storybook. Attend a Christmas Eve service. Think about all the things you have done this Advent to get ready for Jesus’ coming.
Alex Taylor is Children’s Ministry Trainer for the Diocese of London and a huge fan of Christmas.