Want to skip the Elf-on-the-shelf but still have oodles of fun with your kids? Try this Advent tradition instead!
Written by Melinda Biel
I grew up in a wonderful, God-loving, Jesus-preaching Christian home but for some reason I have not really learned how to celebrate Advent other than scarfing down chocolate from a cardboard window.
(I actually don’t consider that Advent related…I thought it was just a yummy countdown to Christmas Day.)
Now that I have 3 kiddos of my own and hear the word ‘advent’ popping up frequently, I decided this year was the year I was going to “take on” advent for real.
Thankfully that’s also when Christie posted her blog article arbout Advent.
Just as she suggested, I skimmed for ideas first and then read the details of the ones I liked.
The idea of having The 3 Wise Men search for baby Jesus (a play on ‘elf on the shelf’) seemed perfect. Simple, fun, doable, and Advent-ish enough to check “take on Advent” off my Christmas “to do” list.
During this time I had been learning that Advent includes waiting, persevering and hope. I wanted to incorporate all of these into how/when/why the wise men looked for the new King.
My goals were to keep them searching around the house at least 4 times a week, and to remind my girls that this is what Advent was all about.
I wanted to combat the “what am I getting for Christmas?” attitude with “let’s focus on Jesus” attitude.
In the end, what I got was a surprise.
At the beginning of Advent, I started the wise men outside, more so for the effect of a nice picture. When I showed the girls, they thought it was hilarious.
“MOM!” roared my six year old, “You’re being such a kid! The toys can’t walk outside.”
But then those wise men would continue to be searching outside.
– Even when the snow hit.
– Even when bitter cold winds hit.
– Even when they kept moving further and further away from the house.
All the while, I intentionally reminded my girls, “See, the wise men are searching for the King. They are persevering, they have hope, they won’t give up. We can be like these wise men!”
My oldest pointed out with concern that the wise men kept moving further away from Jesus. I took that comment as a learning opportunity to tell her that many people move further away from Jesus before coming closer to him.
Mid-Advent, the wise men appeared inside in various sorts of places from the piano, to my baking, and amongst the toys. My wise men even enlisted the help of some toys in parts of their journey.
What I wanted my children to realize is that we can be like the wise men. Even though Jesus has already come, we can still search for him with our time and thoughts. We still can have hope in Jesus just like the wise men did. We can still persevere through challenging times keeping Jesus as our focus.
As Christmas Day grew near, I knew these wise men weren’t going to be by themselves when they found Jesus. They had drawn others to their search, and a little crowd of Little People joined in seeking, hoping, and persevering. They all crowded around that stable to adore their King.
The surprise at the close of Advent, in the end, was for me.
I was the one who enjoyed seeking for Jesus with my time and my thoughts.
I determined in my heart to persevere, keeping my focus on Jesus.
Maybe this activity wasn’t all about teaching my children about Advent (although it did). It was for me to intentionally celebrate Advent for the first time.
The investment I took to focus on Advent, although small, truly had a big pay off.
Christie here. I’m a HUGE fan of doing SMALL, fun things at Advent instead of trying to do All The Crafts or All The Projects, because when we stick with small things, we’re more likely to have a fun, empowering experience rather than being exhausted.
If you want 20 fun (and easy) Advent activities for young kids, download these 20 Bedtime Activities to Put “Christ” Back In Christmas!