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.
- 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!
- 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.