Our 25 Days of Advent: He IS Coming

Our 25 Days of Advent: He IS Coming

Our Advent Calendar

Our family celebrates Christmastime to the max max max. But it’s not that we do more decorating than other people, or that we do it earlier in the year, or that we spend more money on gifts, or that we bake more sweet treats, or play more Christmas music, or that we run around exploding with cheesy cheer. 

Unlike the magical anticipation of a flying jiggly-bellied elf-man (which we do take part in too!) bringing every material gift you can list, the Christmas anticipation we feel is one of the GREATEST JOYS of LIFE.  This isn’t just for kids and it isn’t magic. You don’t outgrow this anticipation. 

We are waiting expectantly for our KING Jesus to return! Like the world waiting for thousands of years for their savior to be born on earth, to save us all from the darkness of hopelessness, we now prepare for Him to one day come back and bring us into eternity with Him. We will then get to celebrate Him forever, where there will be no more death, no more suffering, all our hopes fulfilled. 

Advent (which means “coming”) is that building up of excitement — consciously choosing for 25 days to think about how Great our Jesus is, and how wonderful his return will be. And consciously choosing to share the joy of His love with our family and those around us. 

Reading scriptures at Christmastime is something I always did, but the very purposeful and organized Advent celebration wasn’t something I was ever capable of. My personality is one of BIG ideas, but I have a terrible time following through on my ideas! Thankfully,  I married Jeff, the most excellent organizer, who every year plans a detailed list of December activities for our family to do in eager anticipation of our King. So this whole thing is his work, which I’m just sharing with you because it’s awesome. And if I didn’t have him, I would be looking for something just like it. 

It ALL points to Jesus

These days, Christmas seems like a big competitive marketing machine, but we really want Advent to point to our Savior and His word — through serving and loving others. I want there to be no doubt in my kids’ minds that this household puts Christ before all else. We do include some purchases in our Advent, but what party is without some special splurges? As long as it glorifies Him, we’re in.

The mood of excitement is enhanced with candles (Jesus lights the dark world!), decorations (I try to do something creative and new with my things every year!), special homemade food (see below for a gluten-free biscuits and gravy recipe), and joyful or worshipful music (click the link to see some of what is on our playlist right now).

What we do

Every day starting on December first, our kids get to:

  1. Unwrap a tiny surprise from the Advent calendar

  2. Read/Memorize a scripture

  3. Take part in an activity: either a simple gift, serving others, or a fun tradition


On each gift from the Advent calendar is a tag, with a Bible verse. Each day, we read the short scripture aloud. The first few days are prophetic verses predicting the birth of Jesus. Then we read a verse each day from Luke, which builds the anticipation and adds to the story of Jesus’ birth. Here’s a video of Felicity at age 5 reciting some of the scriptures from the Advent calendar that we memorized together.

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Selfless Acts of Kindness | Luke 2:1-3

The kids secretly put a piece of hay into a manger every time they do something kind or say something encouraging. At the end of the day, we lay baby Jesus (a babydoll) into the very fluffy pile of hay in the manger.

Gingerbread House Making | Micah 5:2

We all make gingerbread houses with relatives or friends.

Third-World Giving | Jeremiah 23:5-6

The kids pick a gift to give children in the Third World, from Compassion International Gift Catalog, usually chickens or a goat or water treatment.

Get Christmas Tree | Isaiah 9:6-7

We go to the local Christmas Tree farm and select/cut a Christmas tree and decorate it with Christmas music and eggnog mustaches.

Christmas Train | Luke 2:1

We all dress up and take a journey on the Polar Express Train Ride or VRE Santa Train.

Gift of Prayer | Luke 2:1-2

Write names or draw pictures (or print photos) of people to pray for throughout Advent. Split them up and keep them in the kids’ rooms so they can be reminded to pray throughout the day.

Donate a Personal Gift | Luke 2:1-4

The kids pick one of their favorite toys to donate to Goodwill.

Historical Trip | Luke 2:1-5

Travel to an historical Christmas location. We typically do Colonial Williamsburg or the Candlelight Tour in Fredericksburg or George Washington’s Mount Vernon Home

Performing Arts Event | Luke 2:1-6

Go to a Performance of the Nutcracker, Chorale/Symphony, Sing-a-Long. Get dressed up and take lots of family photos to remember the beautiful occasion!

Watch Christmas Movie with Friends | Luke 2:1-7

Invite friends over to watch a Christmas movie and eat homemade popcorn!

Christmas Correspondence | Luke 2:1-8

Write a letter of encouragement and draw a picture for a distant friend or relative.

Homemade Christmas Decoration | Luke 2:1-9

The kids make Christmas decorations for their rooms: paper snowflakes, ornaments, stringed cranberry garland.

Christmas Parade | Luke 2:1-10

Attend a small town Christmas Parade. We typically do: Middleburg, Marshall or Manassass wrapped up in blankets with hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Gift of Nourishment | Luke 2:1-11

Deliver homemade food (bone broth or soup) to someone sick or lonely, or a Gift card from a local farm like Whiffletree Farm

Gift of Strengthening Marriage | Luke 2:1-12

Invite friends over so their parents can get a date night.

Gift Journey Scavenger Hunt | Isaiah 7:14

Usually, the first day of Advent begins with a scavenger hunt with clues and Christmas riddles that lead to small gifts (usually books, see suggestions below)

Gift of Hospitality | Luke 2:1-13

Provide tools (like microfiber cloths for dusting) to the kids to clean the house, and a recipe to help make food in anticipation of hosting a family for dinner or Christmas party. They then help the rest of the day!

Gift to Someone Else | Luke 2:1-14

Give each kid $10 and take them to a store. They get to pick a recipient and gift, wrap it, and deliver it.

Gift to Sick | Luke 2:1-15

Go to hospital or nursing home with gifts/food and pray with families and patients and deliver hand-written cards.

Gift of Song/Caroling | Luke 2:1-16

Give bells/tambourine and sheet music and go caroling! This is the most fun when we organize a big crowd to go together!

Christmas Cookie Delivery | Luke 2:1-17

Give a Christmas cookie cutter to make and decorate organic Christmas cookies to deliver to neighbors.

Gift of Art | Luke 2:1-18

Provide art supplies for kids to create Christmas art to give to someone they choose. New Prismacolor pencils or paint and canvas paper make for a great start.

Christmas Movie Making | Luke 2:1-19

Provide kids a camera/phone and have them make a Christmas movie and watch it at home, and post it for all to see!

Christmas Lights | Luke 2:1-20

Hop in the car with some hot chocolate and drive through neighborhood to look at Christmas lights or go to a Festival of Lights or Garden’s Walk of Lights or Zoo Lights while listening to Christmas music.

Christ’s Birthday Party | John 3:16

Give kids a candle to put on Stuffed French Toast and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

Extra Ideas!

Visit Grandparents/Great Grandparents | Matthew 1:22

Give kids a map to their grandparents and dress up and travel to (great)grandparents

Live Nativity | Matthew 2:11

Perform or go to a Live Nativity.

Christmas Game | Isaiah 42:6-7

Invite friends over to play a Christmas Game (Christmas Pictionary, Memory, Charades)

Ice Skating | Luke 1:35

Go outdoor ice skating or sledding/tubing

Here are photos of some past Advent activities!

First letter of a Christmas verse anagram

First letter of a Christmas verse anagram

One day of Advent is always a book. This pop-up book is still one of our favorites.

One day of Advent is always a book. This pop-up book is still one of our favorites.

We gave the kids a camera and invite them to create a story to share Christmas with the world.

Young Family trip to Colonial Williamsburg at Christmastime, in 2015

Young Family trip to Colonial Williamsburg at Christmastime, in 2015

Colonial Santa Claus

Muffin toppers made breakfast fun on Nutcracker Ballet day!

The girls love getting dressed up to match the characters in the ballet.

Girls’ date to the Nutcracker Ballet, in 2017.

Home Alone 2 is a favorite fun Christmastime movie to watch with friends!

Home Alone 2 is a favorite fun Christmastime movie to watch with friends!

This is the small town Marshall Christmas parade in 2017.

The Santa Train in Manassas! Heidi was shocked seeing Mrs. Claus.

We visited the kids’ Great Grandma M in Lynchburg, VA.

And we visited their Great Granny S in Richmond, VA.

Lochlan and Daddy got to do a boys-only skating trip. This year, the girls will be old enough to join!

All the kids love decorating their rooms for Christmas! They put their ornaments on their trees themselves.

Lochlan inherited my old tree I’ve had since I was a young teenager!

Last year’s Christmasy Kitchen!

Last year’s Christmasy Kitchen!

All the kids preparing for a Christmas art project last year

And our kitchen table set for scripture reading

And our kitchen table set for scripture reading

Felicity’s favorite day of Advent is picking a gift for a child in a third-world country.

The oldest three in 2016, writing letters to grandparents

Christmas Cookies with their Grammy, the ultimate gluten-free baker

We make homemade organic marshmallows every year to top hot cocoa!

Sample Calendar

SAMPLE CALENDAR Spreadsheet: Here

How to import calendar

Part of our Advent celebration is special foods, especially at breakfast-time when we’re opening the day’s Advent calendar, like gluten-free muffins decorated with Nutcracker Ballet Toppers, gluten free biscuits and gravy, and from-scratch organic cinnamon rolls. Here’s my recipe for biscuits and gravy!


Gluten-Free Biscuits and Chunky Sausage Gravy

For the biscuits:

2 cups Pamela’s Baking Mix

1 tsp baking powder

1 T sugar

1 stick cold organic butter

1/3 cup organic whole milk + 2-3 Tablespoons

For the gravy:

1 lb. sage-pepper-seasoned loose pastured pork sausage (we buy local from Whiffletree Farm)

1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix

2 cups organic whole milk

Make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425. In a large glass mixing bowl, whisk together the baking mix, baking powder, and sugar. Next, drop the cold butter on top and cut it into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter. When the butter is fully cut into small crumbles, stir. Pour in 1/3 cup of milk, and stir until the mixture starts coming together. Add the 2 or 3 tablespoons more of milk just until the mixture forms a sticky mound. You don’t want it very wet! Next lay out two sheets of parchment paper. On one of the sheets, place the mound of dough. Place the other sheet on top of the dough (it prevents the dough from sticking to the rolling pin) and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is around 1/2” thick. Using a round biscuit cutter (2 3/4”), cut into circles and place on an ungreased stainless steel cookie sheet. When you’ve used all the dough, it should make about 8 biscuits. Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven, and bake for 10-11 minutes, or until the slightest brown has appeared around the edges.

Make the gravy. In a large iron skillet, fully cook the pork sausage, making sure to crumble it as you go. Once there’s no more pink in the meat, add 1/4 cup Pamela’s and stir to coat all the meat. Slowly pour in the 2 cups milk and stir over medium heat until the gravy begins to thicken. Then turn down to low until ready to serve!

Pour the gravy over the biscuits and ENJOY


Watch my Instagram account for photos of us going through our Advent calendar this year! It’s going to be powerful.

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