An Intentional Kid Friendly Advent Plan

Y’all, I’ll be honest.  I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for getting this done(ish) before December 1.  I had the idea last year on, like, 12/3 and it was just didn’t happen.  But that’s probably for the better, Ransom will “get it” much more this year than he would have last year.  And I’m posting it today, rather than in December, in case you also need a reminder to get on ‘that thing’ you meant to do last year but didn’t get around to it.  December is so busy that a little advance preparation is always useful.

For our Christmas season, I wanted to do something to help Ransom understand better what Christmas is.. what we are celebrating.. the meaning behind the gift giving.  My very toy-centric kiddo has a firm grasp on Santa Claus that he has developed all on his own, and he can answer simple questions like “Who’s birthday are we celebrating?” “Who was Jesus’s mother?” But that’s about the extent of it.  And honestly, we adults get fairly lost in the commercialized holiday madness, do we not?

Still, we are a family of Christians and I thought it would be great to try to shift the focus from Mr. Kringle in an intentional way that fits into a 3-year-old’s world.  My idea sprung from the Advent tradition of counting the days from 12/1 to 12/24, opening a small gift or candy on each one.  I like the counting of the days – the building anticipation of Christ’s arrival.  But instead of candy, the focus will be on the Christmas story and all the different players on the scene.


I hit up Ebay for a fairly complex nativity set.  With a little creativity, I stretched the set into 24 different “pieces”.  We’re going to open one of the nativity pieces each day, loosely in order of their arrival in the Christmas story.  We’ll start with the stable on 12/1, then the stable’s farm animal residents, then the inn keeper, Joseph, Mary, the manger, a big shiny star, an angel or two, shepherds, the three kings of Orient, and then finally Baby Jesus himself on Christmas Eve.  Ransom will open the gift every night at dinner and we’ll discuss who each character is and that part of the Christmas story.



I set out for a Fontanini-knock-off vein with colorful but realistic plastic figures.  There are a lot of options out there, but the nativity  I ended up with is actually a Playmobil set.  Doesn’t get more kid-friendly than that!  Its been in production for a number of years and still is.  This keeps the price fairly reasonable – mine was $30 for everything with shipping and I’ve seen them go for less.  Then we supplemented with a couple of horses and a “shepherd” from August’s childhood toy stash to get us up to the 24 needed pieces.  And a random Christmas ornament to be the star.  I have plans to make a wooden manger, since the one that came with the set is just paperboard and will not likely survive the entire Advent season.

So, that’s what we’ll be doing to make this Christmas season a little bit special and keep our focus on the Christ child. What about you? Starting any new traditions?


The shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.


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About Mary-Hall

loyal southerner, exceedingly frugal, compulsive DIYer

4 responses to “An Intentional Kid Friendly Advent Plan”

  1. Barbara Daniel says :

    This is such a sweet idea and more hands-on that a mere Advent Calendar, although I loved those as a kid (especially the kind with a piece of chocolate behind each “door”) Hope you and Ransom have fun with “building” the nativity scene over the month!

  2. KJ says :

    We’re going to start a “Christmas book” tradition. Every day, Norah gets to open one “present” — a Christmas book that’s been wrapped up, and I’ll read it to her. Most of the books aren’t religious, they’re secular, but they’ve got a good message — I’m talking books like, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” here.

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