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Family Tradition – Advent

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Christmas 2009

Traditions have always been a big deal to me. I love things that I can look forward to; knowing that they’re going to happen every year. When I was growing up, I always knew that we’d go “Bear Hunting” on Thanksgiving……no, we didn’t have bears. I think my family was just trying to find some way to get all the kids out of the house for a little bit. When you’re little, you’re clueless. Now that I have a child, I want her to have traditions that she looks forward to as well. I wanted to make our own family traditions that we could add to the ones that we already have. For us, this started last year during the Christmas season. We decided to buy an Advent calendar and celebrate yearly by doing something special. Traditionally you get an advent calendar and put a small gift in each pocket. I thought that seemed a little boring……so we decided that we’d do a different family activity together every day instead. We really enjoyed it last year! I’m looking forward to doing the same thing this year. It should be a lot more fun now that Annie can actually participate in some things. So, take a peek into our new family tradition….think about starting one of your own. Your kids will LOVE it! It will be something they’ll always remember – and count on.

This is our Advent calendar. I’ve seen tons of patterns to make your own, but I gotta be honest…..last year at Christmas Annie was still really little. I just wanted sleep, so the last thing on my mind was making a calendar out of felt.  I FELT I needed sleep. We found this really cute one on Amazon for less than $10. There are tons of options available. One year I plan on making one for us…….at this point in life, I’m still excited to clean the toilet so it’ll have to wait a while longer. Notice that there are 24 pockets. Most Advent calendars only have 24 pockets. Advent actually starts 4 Sundays before Christmas. This usually falls on the last Sunday of November. So, technically these calendars are wrong. What’s up with that? Doesn’t anyone read Wikipedia? So, we start celebrating on December 1st, even though that’s wrong……I just follow the pockets.

I type out 24 activities and then cut them into little slips of paper. I kept most of the ones we did last year, but I switched a few. Last year we watched a few movies, so I changed those this year so we can rotate what we watch. Do you know that last year was the first time I had ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life? Yeah, true story. Not too bad of a movie, I might add. Some of the activities take more time – Gingerbread House – while others are just small – drink egg nog. Just so you know, on the box when it says to wait 10 minutes on the icing for the Gingerbread House, it really means wait 10 minutes. It doesn’t mean, get in a hurry and put it all together. And the walls came tumbling down…..this year, we’ll listen to the instructions.

I slide each piece of paper down into the pocket and it’s ready to go! I’m so excited for this year! Doing things together is much more fun than cluttering up our house with little trinkets.  I know this is something that our kids are just going to LOVE. Heck, I love it!  Last year when we were having our hot cocoa, we tried to get Annie’s picture with the box of cocoa. She fell over and cried. See how well I remember things?! We take pictures of each day and our activity so we can document it. You’ll probably see these photos on Facebook if you follow Stacy Makes Cents there.

Here is Annie with our Food Pantry box. That was one of our activities – to donate a big box of food. Advent is a period of preparation. It looks BACK at the coming of Christ. It also looks FORWARD to the return of Christ. So, we try to do a few things during the holidays that focus on things Christ would do – help others, love others, eat chocolate. Okay, come on people. You know Jesus is loving some chocolate.

Last year we chose a family ornament. I’m looking forward to doing so again! I hope Annie will be able to choose it this year…..although we may come home with some type of dog ornament – or Elmo. Hey, he’s red so he matches the décor. Each night during our family devotions we do a special Advent reading. Every day has a specific verse. I’ll probably be posting those on Facebook as well.Think about starting a tradition with your own family. It’s never too late! Even if it’s just something small, like eating marshmallows out of the bag…….I KNOW I’m not the only one who does that. Traditions bring a family together.

I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook as we celebrate Advent this season!

This post is linked at A Christ-Centered Christmas at The Encouraging Home.

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About Stacy

Stacy is the author of Crock On: A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook and Keep Crockin': A Poorganic Slow Cooker Cookbook, and a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom to her three children, Annie (June 2009), Andy (August 2012) and Eli (September 2014). After an “awakening” in March 2011, her family switched to a more natural, whole foods diet. She likes to blog about how to live on less than you make and how to eat good food while doing it. Her passion is teaching others how to save money and she tag teams with her husband in this endeavor. At Stacy Makes Cents you’ll find information on how to save money in the kitchen, how to have fun with your kids, and how to be thrifty in all areas of life. Her passion is teaching others how to live debt free. Make sure to follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and more to keep up with her daily antics.


  1. I am a huge fan of family traditions, too. My mom always did an advent calendar when we were kids and I have been doing one with my kids, but we did the “answer a question, do a chore – get a trinket” thing, I LOVE the activity idea, I am going to do that one this year. I always get a special ornament for each member of the family and I hope that someday the kids will take their ornaments with them when they get married and start their own trees. If not, I guess I’ll sell them on ebay, just kidding – sort of. And whether he knows it or not, Daniel now has 12 “couple” Christmas ornaments (you know, the couple ice skating, the couple on the ski lift, all those ones that say “Our Season Together 2001”, etc.) That’s what I always get him. And if HE ever leaves to get married, I’ll go to his new house and hang them on his new tree MYSELF! Just sayin’…
    Oh, and I finished off my bag of marshmallows yesterday, but no worries, they were on sale at Food Country this past week, so there are two more bags waiting on the shelf.

  2. Stacy, I found your blog from your post on Dave Ramsey’s Facebook fan page. My husband an I are on baby step two, on track to be debt free by our three year anniversary this coming April. I’ve been wanting to celebrate advent also. I really like the idea of activities everyday as opposed to gifts, which seems to fit in the budget better too :) Would you mind listing the activities you used for your calendar. I’d love some ideas to get started.

    • Hi Janise! Welcome. :-) Every year we have different activities – based on our schedule and how old Annie is (this year she’ll be 2 1/2). Here are some ideas that we do:
      -Family Christmas photo (that WE take)
      -Decorate a gingerbread house
      -Play “secret santa”
      -Go on a drive through town and see the Christmas lights (after dark of course)
      -Make hot cocoa (recipe found on my site)
      -Dinner by candlelight
      -Decorate the tree
      -Watch a Christmas movie
      I hope that will get you started! :-)

  3. Ok, I want to do this…which advent calendar is that? Is there a brand or anything? We want to play :)

  4. Thanks so much for linking up this great post to A Christ-Centered Christmas! You have so many wonderful ideas. I have loved your blog and look forward to getting to know you better at HC.


  5. I have been wanting to start this tradition. This is the year for us to start! I love the activities idea. I will have to come up with a list of some things to do.

    I love reading your blog each morning with my coffee. I have a new favorite Stacy quote. :-) “Okay, come on people. You know Jesus is loving some chocolate.” LOVE IT!!! Never thought of Jesus eating chocolate before.

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