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8 Advent Traditions You Should Adopt in Your Homeschool #ihsnet

Every family has very unique holiday and Advent traditions that are often passed down through multiple generations. Our family is very culturally diverse and we have adopted a great deal of them. We are one of those families that really goes all out. Every single year. We’ve been known to overwhelm and even scare some of our friends. With that in mind, I’d like to share some traditions we’ve adopted though the years, and hope you do too.

1. Traveling Mary and Joseph

We’ve all heard about the Elf on the Shelf, and we’ve seen hundreds of pictures of that crazy elf getting in all sorts of trouble. I’ll admit I’ve been wanting one for years, but honestly I’d run out of creative ideas before the first week. And though it looks like a lot of fun, there’s no real Christmas value in this tradition. Last year, I met a woman at church that instead of the elf, she placed Mary and Joseph in different locations of her home, as they made their way to the stable. She went on to explain that her kids would race down the stairs every morning, wanting to see just how close Mary and Joseph were getting. On Christmas morning, she would finally place Jesus at the center of the nativity and the kids were ecstatic.
What a great way to begin our homeschool days. I’m looking forward to starting each morning talking about how difficult the road must have been, how determined they were to get there, how uncomfortable Mary must have felt, and finally the joy that awaited them at the manger.
You might want to visit a local farm and discuss what it would have been like to have a baby in a stable.

2. Start a Jesse Tree

Another wonderful way to add anticipation to the birth of Jesus is by using a Jesse Tree. There are 25 decorations you will need to add to your tree. These are used these to retell the story of Christ from creation to the manger. The web is full of resources and ideas for your tree. You can print your ornaments or you can make them very intricate. Check out my Jesse Tree Pinterest board for some ideas.

Christmas Countdown Ideas: Jesse Tree Magnets

3. Operation Christmas Child

Our family has packed shoe boxes for the last 8 years. You can find out more on the Samaritan’s Purse website. We make this a year round activity. We’ve been making dolls and other simple toys for the boxes we send out for a few years. For some ideas, check out my Operation Christmas Child Pinterest board. Besides learning skills like sewing, and designing home-made board games for the boxes, your child will learn compassion. Don’t forget to pray over each item and box you prepare as a family.

For more inspiration visit 100 Shoebox Ideas for a Boy from Amy at Milk and Cookies and 100 Shoebox Ideas for a Girl from Jamie at See Jamie Blog

4. Tree Lighting Ceremony

One inevitable thing about the holiday season is the lights. They’re everywhere, and my house can easily be confused with a landing pad during Christmas. Not kidding. If you are like us and just LOVE the pretty twinkling lights, you better not miss the beautiful lighting ceremonies. Most cities host a tree lighting ceremony on the Friday after Thanksgiving or on the first Friday in December. We actually didn’t know about these until just a few years ago. Our city’s ceremony is at a historical hotel and it is breath-taking. There are Cinderella style horse-drawn carriages, food vendors, and even an outdoor ice skating rink that will make you forget it’s actually 90 degrees in December.

5. Invite a Neighbor Over for Cookies

Maybe you’ve lived in the same home for many years, and have developed great friendships with your neighbors. I really hope that’s the case. It is not so for us. We’ve only been in our current home for 5 months and have barely been able to wave hello to two or three of ours. People seem a lot busier these days, we only see each other coming and going. The holiday season ought to be a time to slow down, take time for another and to fellowship. My girls love to bake, so what better way to get to know your neighbors and eat delicious baked goods. I’m challenging myself to break out of my introvert shell (eek) and to reach out, and fill my home with the smell of cookies, and the sound of friendly talk.

6. Christmas Around the World

I was born in Bolivia, my husband was born in the Philippines, our children were born in the United States and we have relatives living all around the world. It’s pretty wonderful if you ask me. With the difference in cultures, there’s a variety of traditions our kids are exposed to. This year we want to go a little further, and explore even more. As we approach the holiday season, we will be learning about Christmas traditions from around the world. I started compiling some ideas here. If you dare explore with us, here are a couple of websites to get you started:

Christmas Around the World

World: Christmas Traditions

7. Write Out and Share a Favorite Christmas Memory

Our homeschool is more relaxed during the Christmas season, partly because it’s hard to focus with all the crazy lights, singing Santas and running trains all over our house, (yes, we are that family). With that in mind it’s easier (and more fun) to get some learning done when it’s Christmas related. Last year, we started writing and sharing our favorite Christmas memories. What I loved about it, is that my girls didn’t just stop at the memory. They added plot lines, made up dialogue, and characters. Their stories turned into wild Christmas adventures. Try it!

8. Christmas Crackers and Crowns

Are your kids obsessed with all things British like mine? I’ve been called ‘mum’ for years and 4 out of my 6 kids regularly speak in British accents. This year we’re adopting a British tradition that I know will be an instant hit. During the mid 1800 a London candy maker started  selling his sweets wrapped in cardboard tubes, and wrapped in colorful paper. Besides the candy the tubes contain a small piece of paper with a joke and a paper crown.  Traditionally, at Christmas dinner,  you hold on to your cracker with one hand and pull on your neighbors cracker with the other hand at the same time while keeping your arms crossed. You then read the terrible jokes out-loud, while proudly wearing your crown. We will be making our own crackers and crowns this year!

What are your favorite holiday and Advent traditions? We’d love to hear your joyous ideas in the comments below.

About Tatiana

Mom to five girls and one boy, wife to Mario, homeschooler, lover of books, aspiring apologist, follower of Jesus.

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