A New Family Advent Tradition

Charles Kiser —  November 29, 2011 — 2 Comments

Happy Advent, everyone.

For those of you who didn’t grow up with the Christian calendar – I didn’t either – Advent is the four-week season starting the Sunday after Thanksgiving and culminating on Christmas day. It’s a season of anticipation and waiting for the arrival, or advent, of King Jesus into the world. It is preparation for the incarnation that is celebrated on Christmas.

As a way of teaching our kids about the season of Advent – and also to teach them that Christmas is not primarily about getting a Star Wars lightsaber or a princess doll that burps after feeding – we borrowed a great idea from our friend Summer Newman called the Jesse Tree. You should read her great post about their Jesse Tree last Advent if this interests you.

We set up a little tree on our dinner table with four purple candles around it (a symbol of Jesus’ royalty). Beside it sits a our kids’ Bible and a little box. In the box is a white candle (to be lit on Christmas day), four pieces of candy (because chocolate is delicious), a lighter, an ornament for that day, and a little card with a Bible story and prayer for the day. The daily Bible stories walk through the major moves of God’s story in Scripture that anticipate the arrival of the Messiah. You can see a PDF file of the ornaments and daily prayer cards here.

Each day after dinner during Advent, we’ll open the box together, light the candles, eat some chocolate, read a Bible story that anticipates the birth of Jesus, color and hang an ornament on the tree (each day’s ornament corresponds with the Bible story), and pray together.

I think the Jewish Community is really on to something in the way they train their children in the faith with hands-on spiritual practices. It’s fun and enriching – not just for the kids, but for the parents, too.

What does your family do to prepare for the birth of Jesus in the Advent season? Share your family traditions (so we can copy them)!

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

2 responses to A New Family Advent Tradition


    We do something similar to this–an Advent wreath. (Well, our “wreath” is a leafy iron candle holder that hangs on the wall–it has four votive holders so it works!) We read a verse everyday of Advent while we light the appropriate number of candles. I’ve been wondering how we’ll make it more kid friendly for Rhet–can’t wait to incorporate some of your ideas!


    We have done an advent wreath and candles before (similar to what Jesse mentioned), but I like the idea of incorporating the Jesse tree (and chocolate).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s