Family Advent Resource Round-Up

Between constructing gingerbread houses, baking cookies and writing letters to Santa, parents know that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are usually jam-packed with holiday fun. But if you believe Jesus is the reason for the season, you gotta include some meaningful Advent activities as well.

I love planning Christmas events to do with my kids every day in December. These range from drinking cocoa and reading a favorite book to going ice skating or walking through the Living Nativity. I’m big on tradition, but sometimes military life means we find ourselves in unfamiliar places and the holidays don’t always feel like they should.

That’s why I’m grateful for books and movies that we can take anywhere and enjoy year after year. Our oldest child will be in high school next year, so we’ve spent 13 years scouring the market for family Advent materials and this list is the best of the best. And lest you think our kids will sit quietly, patiently listening to the read-a-loud selection of the evening, we actually have two incredibly wiggly and rambunctious boys who don’t love to sit and listen to books, so I’m sharing the ones that even highly energetic kids beg for.

Besides the actual Bible, these are resources we use to help our kids connect to the Christmas Story:

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: The Family Celebration of Christmas is a gorgeous Advent book by Ann Voskamp that offers a reading each day leading up to Christmas and a corresponding ornament to hang on a Jesse Tree. We usually have a few decorative branches sitting in a vase that becomes our Jesse Tree every December. The book includes a link to download paper ornaments that your kids can color and cut out.

Alternatively, I love these beautifully hand-painted Jesse Tree ornaments, pictured below and also available for download.

Jesse Tree hand-painted ornaments

Buck Denver Asks…Why Do We Call it Christmas? is an entertaining and informative DVD for the whole family. Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales and the Buck Denver DVD series, explains the history of Christmas in a way you’ve never heard before. The characters embark on a hilarious adventure, and ultimately come to understand the origins of the holiday and the role Hanukkah and Santa Claus play in our celebration of Christmas. This has quickly become one of our family’s favorites. Buck Denver movies are the epitome of serious fun. Also available as a hard-cover book.

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent can be described as historical fiction and follows the adventures of a ten-year-old boy in Israel in the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. While this is a riveting and action-packed story of a boy searching for his family, there is some violence that warrants discretion for children under 8 years old. This is a treasured story in our family, and one that we all look forward to reading every year. Many chapters end in cliffhangers and kids will be eagerly waiting for the following day’s reading.

Have you read The Tale of Three Trees? We love to make hot chocolate and snuggle up for this read-aloud. This is a children’s book with a message of God’s love that people of all ages will adore. Maybe not traditionally a Christmas book, this is one that can be left on the shelf long after the holiday season.

I’m always on the lookout for Advent resources for my family during the Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and the hope that brings to us. What books or movies would you add to this list? I’d love to hear!