Christmas for many of us becomes a frantic, stressful time of present hunting,  prizegivings, dance shows, parties, Santa and preparation for our big summer holiday.  How can we help families bring Advent and Christmas into their homes and prepare their hearts and lives again for the coming of Jesus? The season of Advent starts on Sunday 3 December…..Advent is the four weeks before Christmas when we prepare for the coming of Christ – a time of hope, joy, peace and love.

Advent Tree: the Journey to Receive the King of Kings

New this year, through the Baptism Children and Family Ministries, is a pop-and-slot adventure activity exploring the true story of Christmas.


Advent Family Calendaradvent-calendar-for-families-final-page-001

You may like to start Advent by presenting your families with this hand A3, colour calendar for them to use as part of their Advent family rituals.  Download

Advent Rituals @ Home

Consider introducing a nightly or weekly tradition during this special season of preparation.  Children love ritual and these all age activities can do a lot to instil in our children a sense of anticipation and joy that has less to do with presents and more to do with celebrating the great love of God.

 A Gingerbread Nativity

By Cheryl Harray (Kids Friendly Advisor, Southern Presbyterians)

As shops stocked up with Christmas goods in last year I noticed a growing number of gingerbread house kits. The thought struck me.  What about a gingerbread nativity scene?

Searching the internet for ideas revealed a book ‘The Gingerbread Nativity- A four-week exploration of Advent’.  Now also available as a downloadable  book from BRF. It’s full of practical ideas, templates and recipes needed for a four week programme with a small group of children.  (Warning it does require lots of work).   I decided to trial a low key version of just making the nativity scene with my 4 year old grandson Sam.

It was fantastic FUN.  We did it on Christmas Eve (during the day) and Sam stayed engaged for several chunks of time. It inspired lovely conversations about what the characters should look like and where they would stand.  Sam insisted on having two Marys to look after Jesus. The house was filled with wonderful spicy gingerbread smells and growing interest from everyone as the scene came together, finally taking pride of place in the lounge.

Read more…

Jesus Storybook Bible printable advent calendar and daily readings

Check out this wonderful free resource from Sally Lloyd Jones.

family advent wreath bookletA Family Advent Wreath

Download this family resource created by Cheryl Harray, our Kids Friendly Advisor to Otago and Southland,  to share this booklet of easy to use activities with your families.  If you’d like instructions on making your own wreath, click here.

A Progressive Nativity

Sophia NativityFrom Kaila:  Over the years, I have gleaned from many sources ways to take back my Christmas Season and make time to reflect…I still experience all the stress of prizegivings, Christmas Pageants and end of year parties. However, our family has decided on two traditions that are non-negotiable and we make room for them…

Click here to find out more and to leave a comment about how YOU celebrate advent and Christmas with your family…

Getting Families Inspired

Mary and Joseph Journey to Bethlehem 

Many of our churches have loved doing this activity with their families.  Inspired by the Mexican tradition of Posadas, this activity imary and josephnvolves parishioners (all ages) “signing up” to host Mary and Joseph (knitted nativity figures) in their homes.  Each day Mary and Joseph are delivered to the next home where parishioners read scripture, pray and enjoy hospitality together. Click here to find out more.

On Christmas Day 

We have places to go (church included), people to see, and presents to open.  Why not start the day off singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus?  Put a candle in the centre of the breakfast table.  Remember in your mealtime prayers/grace to thank God for the greatest present of all: the chance to be a part of God’s great family…all because of a baby who was born in a manger.  Sometimes these little moments of reflection can help us refocus and bring greater depth to the day.

Going Deeper

If you want to delve a little deeper, have a look at this gem of a book The Season of the Nativity season nativityby Sybil MacBeth.

Part reflection, part intentional activity, Sybil MacBeth’s new book, The Season of the Nativity, offers readers the opportunity to experience the church seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany as a whole.”

Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush”       (Faith Box.  Volume 4)