Advent calendars are a great way to intentionally participate in the anticipation of the Advent season one day at a time. Most commercial Advent calendars give you two options when you open the doors: Scripture verses or chocolate. You’re probably not crazy about the chocolate and your kids may get weary of just the Bible verses. But what if you made your own living calendar in classroom and home—half scavenger hunt and half "calendar." Behind every “door” there would be something new, fun and unexpected waiting for you to explore together!
How to create a living Advent calendar:
Determine how many days of Advent there are. In 2016 there are 28 days. A class will need only 20 and possibly fewer depending on which day the Christmas break begins.
Identify one thing your family or class can discover, explore, or do together during each day of Advent. These could include:
- discovering one of the pieces of the nativity scene
- saying a prayer
- exploring information about Advent or Christmas on the internet or in the Bible
- signing a card for someone you know who needs some Christmas consolation and care; it should be someone the kids know
- discovering a special treat such as Christmas cookies they can indulge in ahead of time
- discovering an inexpensive religious gift such as a small statue of Jesus or Mary, a necklace, book, or holy card
- getting a list of five nice things they can do that day to show kindness to others. For example, hold the door, say thank you, ask how someone is doing, give someone a quarter just to be nice, help a family member with his or her chores
Prepare Advent boxes or bags, one for each day of Advent. They should be large enough to be found in a scavenger hunt and able to hold the Advent calendar item for that day.
Number the boxes or bags 1 to 28.
Place one of the Advent items you came up with in each of the bags.
Each day hide the appropriately numbered box or bag somewhere in the house or classroom. Give the kids a hint where it is and let them go find it.
Open it together and enjoy doing the the Advent "calendar" suggestion for that day.
By creating an Advent ritual that is fun as well as meaningful, you will be building the true meaning of Christmas one day at a time.