I love Christmas! But it can also be SO busy and stressful, especially for moms. There are expectations of what Christmas is “supposed to be” from friends, family, and even ourselves.
Often moms are the ones to “make it all happen.” Even if you have a very supportive spouse and family, you probably play a big role in pulling off this holiday, and it can feel anything but simple to try to create a meaningful Christmas season for your family.
In our case, my husband helps as much as he can, but he is also very busy with work. I have often felt like I have to carry the rest (and live up to some amazing Christmas standard)!
The thing is, there is not some magical, perfect standard that everyone HAS to live up to on Christmas. Simple is okay.
Often, simple is better.
Simple leaves room for time spent together, enjoying the little things and each other. Simple reduces the distractions, the consumerism, materialism, entitlement, stress, and unrealistic expectations of Christmas.
Simple focuses on what the season is really about and leaves space to hear that still, small voice.
Creating an Advent Tradition
One of the meaningful traditions I REALLY wanted to start with our family a few years ago was a simple Advent Calendar. So, of course, I hopped on Pinterest!
The problem was that most of what I saw was anything but simple.
It seemed like every advent calendar idea I came across included tons of toys and junk that I knew my kids would leave all over the house, lots of junk food and candy, or SO many complicated activities that I felt stressed out just thinking about trying to do one every day.
Around that time, we were also looking into the Waldorf philosophy of education, and I saw some BEAUTIFUL photos of the Waldorf tradition, celebrating Advent by creating a nativity scene and moving Mary and Joseph along the path toward the scene, symbolizing their journey to Nazareth.
The advent calendar I’m going to share with you was one I created to make things easier, by incorporating simple activities our family was already planning to do around Christmas time, along with pieces of the Nativity Story to keep the focus on the coming of Jesus throughout the time leading up to Christmas!
Three Simple Advent Calendar Ideas
This advent calendar plan also includes three options, and you can totally customize it with the activities and ideas that work for YOUR family! Make sure to get the free advent calendar plans at the end of this post!
I decided to incorporate reading the story of the birth of Jesus from scripture throughout our advent season. On the days we read the story, the kids get new pieces of the nativity scene to set up and reenact the scriptures.
You can do this activity with any nativity set. There is a 25-day plan and a 22-day plan to correlate with Advent (both include a list of suggested activities along with the scriptures and which nativity pieces to use). There is also an 8-day option that is just for setting up your nativity (you don’t need an advent calendar for this one).
Here are some scenes my kids set up while doing this activity last year.
Below: an angel appears to the shepherds to tell them the good news.
My kids really look forward to getting new pieces, and they love being able to set it up however they want. It’s special for me too, because they are using the nativity set my mom let my sister and I use when we were children.
Above: All of the pieces in our set, with the advent calendar on the top shelf. There are ideas to do this with any advent calendar.
Below: Our simple set-up.
Keep it Simple
Use the worksheets below to create your own tradition this Christmas season!
What you need:
- For the 25- and 22-day option: Any Advent calendar and any nativity set + a Bible (or look up Scriptures online).
In case your nativity pieces don’t fit in the drawer or slot of your advent calendar, you can wrap the pieces for each day in a small numbered box. Then, place a slip of paper in your advent calendar that reads: “Open box #___.”
- For the 8-day option: just a nativity set + a Bible (or look up Scriptures online).
If you don’t already have one, here are some nice Advent calendars similar to what we use:
Here are some options for Nativity Sets:
Or you could even use a calendar like these, which come with nativity pieces:
Free Printable Advent Calendar Plans
You will receive all three of these customizable Advent Calendar plans for free:
- A 25-day Advent Calendar to use from Dec. 1-25
- A 22-day Advent Calendar to use during Advent (Dec. 3-24)
- An 8-day plan to set up your nativity and tell the story of the birth of Jesus (without the other activities). You can do this eight days in a row, or spread out throughout the month however you like.
Pick the option that works best for your family!
I hope you enjoy creating your own family tradition and that your children’s hearts will be centered on the true meaning of Christmas this year!