I grew up celebrating Advent, the season of anticipation and longing for the birth of Christ. My family went through multiple versions of Advent calendars until we finally settled on a permanent one--a wooden board filled with hooks on which hung old laminated Christmas cards that my parents wrote one activity on per day. We just wiped off the cards and reused them every year. It was a time of great excitement and fond memories.
Nathan and I purchased a cute Advent calendar at Target a few years ago that has a drawer for each day in December. When G was young, I would print out a Scripture passage, roll it up and put it in the drawer with a piece of chocolate. Truthfully, though, the drawers can't hold more than about one piece of chocolate, and with three kids, it is not as 'helpful'this year. Plus G and B are old enough to have a more 'interactive' Advent calendar this year. So after brainstorming for a little while, searching Pinterest for a time, this is what I developed:
These are sandwich paper bags cut in half. I chose to use the top half and save the bottom half for another project (maybe luminaries?). I glued the bottom closed so they became little envelopes. The kids helped me decorate a few of them, and I did the rest. I attached them to the red twine using clothes pin. Best thing about this project--I found the bags, the twine and the clothes pins at the dollar store. Cost of Advent calendar: $3 (or less if you consider I didn't use all the supplies!).
In each bag are two printable Jesse Tree ornaments. They are the same ornaments, just one for B and one for G to color each day. We will read the Scripture passage, discuss the Bible story on their level, and put the ornaments on the tree. If you look back at the first picture, you can see my 'tree' on the bathroom door--it's green wrapping paper! Also in these little bags I will put an activity that we will do (i.e., today we are going to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas) or something special like a little piece of candy or stickers. I don't want them to have candy every day, and I don't know if we will do a Christmas themed "thing" each day--but we might. I want to have fun activities as well as chances for them to share and give to others. I will be working on the Jesse Tree readings with them during the day, and at night, with Nathan, we will be reading the Christmas story from various Bible versions as well as the kids' different children's Bibles. They are at an age of soaking up knowledge and asking lots of questions and I want to seize these moments while I can.
If you are interested, I have a list of Advent readings and a link to the printable Jesse Tree that I am using on the Prayer of Hannah blog here. For adults, I would highly recommend Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, a book of sermon excerpts for Advent devotional reading. May your Advent season be filled with joy as we look forward to the coming king, Immanuel, God with us!