Christmas Faith

Simple Ideas for Celebrating Advent

From Advent candles and weekly readings to daily devotionals, here are a few simple ideas for Advent to help your family focus on the true meaning of the season.

For the past several years, I’ve made sure I’m officially done with the brainstorming and procuring of Christmas gifts before the start of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas Day. Though this sounds like a lofty feat, I’ve learned that I personally need to be finished with the online searching and buying process so that my heart can truly focus on Advent to prepare Him room.

This year, Advent officially begins Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. And though we may all have different traditions and priorities during the Christmas season, I thought I’d share what my family is doing this Advent to offer inspiration to other families.

What is Advent?

In its simplest form, the word Advent means arrival or coming. So Advent season is the time before Christmas Day when Christians anticipate the arrival of the Messiah. We celebrate Advent to commemorate Christ’s first coming as a baby in a manger, as well as anticipate his second coming with the armies of Heaven at his side.

As the Christmas carol Joy to the World so succinctly puts it, this is a time for us to “Let every heart prepare Him room.” For me to prepare Him room requires a process of decluttering—my mind, my thoughts, my priorities, my to-do list. So this Advent time is a personal time for me to slow down (as contrary as that sounds during the Christmas season), reflect, anticipate, meditate and refocus on Christ.

Weekly Advent Candles

Growing up in church, I loved the tradition of the lighting of the Advent candle each Sunday during the service. This year, I decided to start that tradition in our home for my family to hone in on the sacredness and progression of Advent during the month.

I chose a simple Advent candle holder with an image of the nativity etched on the face of it. There are many types of Advent sets on the market. Many churches use a circular wreath candle holder for symbolic reasons.

Weekly Advent candles provide a way to mark time through the season leading up to the birth of Jesus. On the first Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit. Then another candle is lit each Sunday until Christmas Day. This is a visual representation of how a small flame in the darkness grows gradually brighter until the Light of the World arrives in the form of a baby.

Thematically, the first week of Advent focuses on hope, the second week on peace, the third on joy (represented by the pink candle), and the fourth on love.

This concept of Advent is fairly new for my kids, so I will explain it to them further on the first Sunday of Advent. Here are some kid-friendly resources to use as a guide each week:

Also, I plan to choose a couple age-appropriate questions from this accompanying study guide to ask my kids after we read scripture and watch the videos.

Daily Reading/Listening for Kids

Last Advent, I purchased Jotham’s Journey and began reading it my kids each night. My older three kids loved following the journey of a young boy across Israel as he searched for his family. He faced all kinds of obstacles on his journey finding his way to the Savior in Bethlehem.

After we got a couple days behind in our readings, I discovered a video of woman who read the book aloud day-by-day. Many days when we were on the go, we would listen to the reading in car line or on our way to a special event. I loved having this option since I get car sick easily and cannot read in the car. Here is a link to the 28-day playlist for Jotham’s Journey.

Since my kids loved Jotham’s Journey so much, we decided to use another book from author Arnold Ytreeide this year. Bartholomew’s Passage follows another young boy whose village is destroyed by Roman soldiers, is separated from his family, enslaved and escapes just in time for the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem. This is the playlist of Bartholomew’s Passage my kids are listening to each day. We got a jumpstart and began listening a few days early and they already love the story as much as Jotham’s Journey.

Other highly rated books by Ytreeide include:

Daily Reading for Adults

I had planned to read an Advent devotional that’s been on my bookshelf since last year, but when a friend asked for an Advent recommendation, I quickly suggested Paul David Tripp’s Come, Let Us Adore Him. The next day, I decided to re-read the introduction to his Advent devotional and knew that I needed to read it again this year. 

Tripp reminds me of much of the Apostle Paul. He is bold, filled with truth, calls out humanity’s sin and always points back to Jesus. In his introduction, he writes, “When we are familiar with things, we tend not to celebrate them as we once did. Familiarity tends to rob us of our wonder. And here’s what’s important about this: what has captured the wonder of our hearts will control the way we live…..Sadly, many of us aren’t gripped by the stunningly magnificent events and truth of the birth of Jesus anymore. Sadly, many of us are no longer gripped by wonder as we consider what this story tells us about the character and plan of God. Sadly, many of us are no longer humbled by what the incarnation of Jesus tells us about ourselves. We walk by the garden of the incarnation, but we don’t see the roses of grace anymore. Our eyes have gone lazy and our hearts have grown cold.”

Tripp’s Advent devotional is intended to recapture our attention, reawaken our sense of wonder and transform our hearts again as he guides us through the Christmas story each day.

The readings are short but poignant, and always have a suggested scripture reading at the end for more study. This is the perfect length of Advent devotional for me as I’m completing the daily readings for the Chronological Bible in a Year.

I also recently heard this song and love this idea of the fullness of time so much that I decided to memorize Galatians 4:4-5:

 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

I plan to verse map it during Advent as a further means of study and reflection. Here’s the verse map template with instructions that I use.

Christmas Eve Reading of Luke 2

At some point each Christmas season, we read through the Christmas story in Luke 2. Some years, this has looked like reading a couple verses a day. Other years, we’ve read the story in one sitting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

This year, I plan for my husband to read it Christmas Eve night (cue the cozy fire) and then let my kids watch this Bible Project video of Luke 1-2 afterward. We have a cloth nativity set that I plan to let my 5 year old use to act out the Christmas story while he listens, which will hopefully keep him attentive.

These are a few simple ideas we’re doing this year to celebrate Advent. I hope they offer inspiration for your family as we anticipate the coming of Jesus!



I'm a full-time wife and semi-stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Day to day, I help my husband with his small business, but when I have any extra time, you can find me cooking or being active outdoors with my family. We live at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains and are embracing modern homesteading month by month.

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