Are you looking for a fun way to integrate family time, scripture, the Christmas story, and the gospel message into a family tradition? Family advent calendars are a wonderful way to do this during the holiday season. Yet, that is a lot to pack into one tradition! Is it even possible? Let’s review some of the best advent calendars for families and I think you will see that it’s not only possible but can be easy and simple. You may even find your new favorite advent calendars!
There are amazing creators across the world that has embarked on bringing family advent calendars that are not only fun but teach truths that can make an eternal impact.
Why Have a Family Advent Calendar Tradition?
The top reason I like to cite as a reason to have an advent calendar tradition is that it is a great way to add consistency to your holiday schedule. We all know it; the Christmas season is busy. Teaching your children, the true meaning of Christmas should always take priority during the commercialized holiday season, yet it’s easy to let it slide down the line of ‘to-dos’.
An intentional family advent calendar allows you to have a consistent teaching tool that will walk your family through bible verse advent cards, the story of Christmas, and the true message of Jesus.
Ideas for Family Advent Calendar Activities
Growing up, my favorite part of our advent calendar was when we got to do something! The calendar was red and green with pockets for each day leading up to December 25th. It looked something like this one.
Reading a Bible verse or getting a small trinket was fun, but my mother made sure most of the calendar was filled with activities. Depending on what type of advent calendar you use, you can make your own activities and traditions up as you go. That is certainly what my mother did, and the advent calendar, to this day, still remains one of my favorite Christmas memories.
Here are a few ideas if you customize your own advent calendar!
- Bake cookies as a family.
- Take cookies to a neighbor or friend.
- Create homemade Christmas cards and deliver them to a nursing home.
- Ring Christmas bells with the Salvation Army as a family.
- Shop for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and then pack them at a distribution center.
- Go caroling with friends and family.
- Create gift bags for your teachers at your local school.
The Top 3 Family Advent Calendars
There are three family advent calendars that stick out in my mind as the best of the best. They do not stick to the traditional advent calendar where you just lift a lid or read a Bible verse. These are specifically created to form tradition and teaching in your home.
These are not going to be your typical hot chocolate, candy cane, or wine advent calendars. These are going to have intentional activities to do throughout the December month that will point your family to Jesus. These are reusable advent calendars that only have to be purchased once!
We have enjoyed each of these as our own advent calendars so I can personally attest to the effectiveness and enjoyment of each of them!
The Shepherds Treasures – A Elf on the Shelf Alternative
The Shepherds Treasure is the family advent calendar tradition that we have used over the last couple of years. It is an Elf on the Shelf alternative with an advent calendar element. Similar to Elf on the Shelf, children will find their shepherd every morning from December 1st-25th. The big day happens on Christmas day when the shepherd finds baby Jesus, and so do your children! The best part for my kids is that they still get to find a stuffed animal friend each morning.
The unique thing about this tradition is the book that accompanies the shepherd. It goes into great detail about the birth of Christ, how to receive Christ as your Savior, and an intriguing story that will have your kids coming back for more!
It also comes with a pack of advent cards. These advent cards are meant to add the ‘action step’ element to this tradition.
Sometimes they use advent cards to mark a Christmas story scripture verse. Others focus on giving, doing an act of service as a family, or doing something fun like making Christmas cookies.
Replacement cards are available, or you can download my own printable advent cards to use from year to year! This is a digital download for personal use only. Enjoy! If you are looking to do a DIY advent calendar, check out my printable one here.
The Advent Blocks
Advent Blocks have slowly become our top way of incorporating the true meaning of Christmas into our daily routine at Christmas time. These also make the perfect gift! The purchase from with a full family advent calendar kit with the advent book, blocks, and an explanation of how to use it.
Each day of December there are blocks for children to turn over that tell another element of the Christmas story. We have placed these blocks in a variety of places including under our Christmas tree. They are very pretty blocks and can be incorporated into holiday decor if you wish. They continue all the way to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Along with the blocks they have a devotional book for families that walk through the story of Christmas from the Old Testament to the New Testament. This year there is a new book that is specifically catered to small children in the home. It is a huge board book and truly fantastic! This new Christmas book is probably my favorite addition to our Christmas this year! All family members can be involved with this tradition with both these books!
One of the things that I love about this family advent calendar is that it is a reusable advent calendar so you will not need to buy a new one each year! This is a great resource for the Advent season. Find my complete review of Advent Blocks here.
Unwrapping the Greatest Gift – The Story of Christmas
This tends to be the most complicated family advent calendar tradition of the three. However, I think it has some of the best rewards. The family companion book is what has the advent calendar and traditions. It has daily family devotions, scriptures, activities, and beautiful illustrations.
Original Book – Unwrapping the Greatest Gift
There is also a pop-up tree calendar that you can get to hang the ornaments on from your daily advent/devotional lesson.
Other Family Advent Calendar Ideas
- If you are looking for something simple, try a wood nativity advent calendar. These are beautiful and can be customized however you wish! This one is very reasonably priced and is from Kurt Alder. This is a fun advent calendar to do small gifts or a special treat in it!
- A twist on the wood feature is this adorable Christmas truck with boxes in the back! What a fun advent calendar!
- Still, another simple family advent calendar is the toy one! I do love these for the joy that they bring children. 25 days of toys leading up to one of the greatest gift occasion days of the year. A child will love it! There are all sorts of different options like this truck one or a Lego Christmas calendar.
- This nativity calendar is another fun way to do advent as a family.
- As I know this is a popular option, I am including it here. Here are some of the 2023 Harry Potter advent calendars.
Using Family Advent Calendars
Finding the perfect family advent calendar is the first step. The Advent season is a great way to do something special as a family and these three advent calendars are our favorite! The real trick comes with committing and remembering to use them throughout the holiday season.
Advent calendars can be an intentional way to teach the gospel to your children throughout the holiday season. Find your perfect calendar and start a tradition!
More Christmas Resources from Healing Home
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