Simply Convivial

classical home education for life

Advent Term Plans 2013

Advent begins December 1st this year, and I want to be ready. Last year, I was still recovering from an unexpected C-section, and so my notes consist of two-year-old jottings and last year’s half-baked and undone ideas.

During the month of December, I plan to ease off our normal schedule, do more fun things, do more free reading and free playing, bundle up against the cold and the gray, and drink more hot chocolate.

Of course, my goal is to keep the season simple and manageable. I am not so much a crafty mom or a field trip mom; I tend to focus more on foods and routines and traditions (because I like to find something that works and just do the same thing every year rather than reinvent the wheel).

Advent School Plan

After five years of homeschooling and trying everything from completely taking December off school to trying to keep full school days up until Christmas week, I now plan for a middle ground.

School, during the entire month of December, will be only a math review page (after all, no time is wasted which is spent in review), Circle Time, and free reading (for everyone! Myself, included!). We’ll still do 3 Elementary Lessons days, which is known around here as “Fun School.” All month we only have one writing class and one speech class, so our days will be more freed up for projects and reading.

Here’s my plan for our Advent Circle Time

  • Recite Luke 2, twice daily. This is a tradition I am carrying on. My mom had my brother and I memorize Luke 2 simply by practicing it a few times daily every December. Within a couple years, we had it memorized, and we reviewed every December. I have been following that same pattern for a few years now, and my oldest two are very close to having it memorized.
  • Do a Jesse Tree devotional. We’ve done several different Jesse Tree devotional plans over the years. This year, I finally committed to an ornament I liked and ordered the pattern from NavyMango. I have barely begun the stitching, but even if they aren’t all done this year, we still have over 10 years of family Jesse Tree devotionals ahead of us, Lord willing!
  • Sing two Christmas carols. Probably we’ll do one before and one after the Jesse Tree devotional. I’ll let the kids take turns picking favorites.
  • Read aloud Dicken’s Christmas Carol. I’ll use my Audible version, and we’ll listen to The Christmas Carol while coloring or drawing, at least a couple times a week until we finish the book.
  • Listen to The Messiah. In the mornings, we’ll listen to The Messiah as we do our chores or later, while we play and work on projects.

Advent Traditions

  • On the first Sunday in advent, we pull out the Christmas decorations, set up and decorate our [real] Christmas tree, invite friends over for cider and popcorn, and exchange all non-Christmas music and picture books for exclusively Christmas music and picture books. One new Christmas picture book will be wrapped and waiting on the breakfast table.
  • Every year my friend and I make an advent calendar garland, with a little paper packet filled with a peppermint for each child, one packet for each day in advent, to be opened and consumed after dinner.
  • This year the kids will be in our church’s Sunday School Christmas play, which will simply be a pageant acted out to children reciting sections of the Christmas story from the gospels and singing the appropriate carol. I’m helping with Sunday School this year, so I’ll also be helping with kid management and logistics during practices.
  • We’ll do an advent-specific family devotional after dinner, but we still haven’t picked what that will be. Last year we used Cindy’s 25 Days of the Messiah – that was great! We’ll light the advent wreath while we do them and blow them out after the advent calendar candy is consumed.
  • At some point in the month, the kids will do extra chores to receive some extra spending money (plus a Christmas bonus) and then go one by one with me to WalMart to get their siblings Christmas presents, which they then also wrap themselves. That day is a long day, and Ilse I only take straight to the candy bar display at the cash register and have her pick one for each person on her list.

This last year I’ve started making cinnamon rolls on Saturday for Sunday’s breakfast, to help make Sunday a little bit of a mini-holiday (they’re whole wheat cinnamon rolls so we don’t get sugar crashes during church), so an idea I had for this year was to make advent Sundays a little extra-special by doing something different. Some recipes I’m looking at are

This year I’ll try a few different recipes, maybe even on weekdays if I feel like it (or maybe make a midmorning-tea treat), and if one is a hit, I’ll add it to my traditions list. Let me know if you have any favorite holiday breads!

Christmas Making

  • The kids will make sugar cookies, from creaming the butter to frosting and sprinkling.
  • My friend and I will swap a craft day or split a younger/older craft day, but we’re still looking into options.
  • They’ll dip pretzels into almond bark and sprinkle with sprinkles, then bag up for their friends and aunts and uncles.
  • This year I want to finally do cute gift tags instead of the tacky cheap stickers I have done in years past. This year, presents will be all brown paper and string and a cute gift tag and topper. I’ve been dreaming of doing it this way for 2-3 years, and it’s finally time. I think I’ll just do a basic gift tag with a snowflake hole-punch. The kids can punch a snowflake punch for me. And maybe I’ll even get wild and crazy and put a dab of glitter glue at the edges.


It is the little things that the kids look forward to. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to make it special.

For more ideas for celebrating advent, visit Pam at Everyday Snapshot‘s Living Liturgy Advent link-up today!

And now, from you:

  1. I enjoyed reading your plans. I just might try that Monkey Ginger Bread.
    We do Luke 2 also; as a matter of fact, I am so used to it that I forgot to include it when I posted our plans!

  2. I also like the special breakfast on Sunday idea. Really makes it special. I think I have that same version of A Christmas Carol and The Messiah in the morning is a fabulous ideas. Going to borrow that one. Thanks for linking up!

  3. Love this! I think I can fit some of these in they align nicely with what we already do.

  4. I really like the idea of reading Luke 2 daily throughout Advent. I’m going to have to try adding that to our morning time. I’m planning on listening to Messiah and singing one or two carols too. We have a set of felt Jesse Tree ornaments that I made about 5 years ago that we’ll use, and I switch back and forth between reading the actual stories from the Bible that they represent or just reading shorter summaries. I’d like to find the “perfect” Jesse Tree reflections – something that combines the story and some sort of reflection – to go with the ornaments I made, but I’m sure it doesn’t quite exist! We also try to read one of our Advent/Christmas themed books each day which I’ll probably do during morning time as well.

    I’m also trying to make sure I’m not doing too much since I’m days away from my due date. I’m trying to remember to give myself permission to feel like I’m doing ok even if we don’t manage to do morning time every day.

    BTW, thanks for the tip about the Dover coloring books last month – my kids have really appreciated it!

  5. Sounds like you have a wonderful plan for Advent. I like the variety of activities you are doing with your children. We are doing a countdown to Christmas as well. It’s something that our family looks forward to each year.