Holiday, Kindness

Advent Ideas

Advent is a season of waiting.  This season can be so much more meaningful for families when you focus on kindness, love and the true meaning of Christmas.  I wanted to share with you a few ideas/resources that we have put into place for over the years during Advent and would love to hear any ideas or traditions that you may have as well.
1.  Sparkle Stories Audio Advent Calendar
      We have been a sparkle family since the beginning in 2010.  David Sewell McCann has a tremendous gift for story telling and the Sparkle Stories are WONDERFUL for children ages 3 and up (although my daughter has been listening since she was one).  They have stories for every season, stories that teach valuable lessons, stories for grief….they are an incredible resource.
     The holiday season is a very special time at Sparkle Stories and they now have 3 audio Advent Calendars.  We LOVE the Martin and Sylvia Advent Calendar that follow a brother and sister through the 24 days leading up to Christmas and their search for yellow Advent Cards.  The Junkyard Advent is a precious story about a community of animals that live in a junkyard trying to make a wonderful Christmas for the Warden of the junkyard.  This year they have a new Advent Audio Calendar called Libby and Dish’s Good-Deed-a-Day Club and we are soooooo excited.
    I highly recommend you check out the magic that is Sparkle Stories.  You can sign up for a 7 day trial to try them out for FREE (this is not an ad, we just love Sparkle Stories that much). It is fun to listen to them in the car as you are driving around or you can snuggle up on the couch and listen together.  Sparkle stories are a great way to remember to slow down for 20 minutes each day and listen to a beautiful and inspirational story together.
This FREE Kindness Calendar from Action for Happiness gives you a daily suggestion for how to spread Kindness.  My kids and I used this last year as inspiration for good deeds for our Kindness Chain (see more about that below).
Last year we wrote down each of our acts of Kindness during the holiday season on a piece of red or green construction paper and created a “Kindness Chain”.  This paper chain was a nice visual for the kids to see all of the acts of service and kindness we had  done since the beginning of November.  It was their goal to see it touch the ground and it did!  You can read more about our Kindness Chain HERE.
4.  “Jingle” People
Winter Solstice-3
Once again we will be working on some good deeds for friends and family members and leaving a note that they’ve been “Jingled by the Kindness Elves”.  Last year we completed four missions and this year we hope to complete at least 4.  Last year all but one of the recipients ended up finding out it was us.  This year the kids are working on ways to be sneakier!
5.  Ann Voskamp’s Advent Books 
     We have been using Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift for the past 4 years. It is so nice to stop our crazy lives for just a few minutes each day to spend a little time focusing on the story of the birth of Jesus and all of the events leading up to it (starting with Genesis). The pictures in the book are gorgeous and Ann has free printable ornaments for each day that the kids can color while you read. The reflections are a bit long and so I’d recommend this for children 5 and up. I also read Ann’s grown up version of the book, The Greatest Gift each day.  Her adult book follows the same daily themes.
     Last year Ann came out with another version of the book for the WHOLE family.  The Wonder of the Greatest Gift has the same stories in Unwrapping the Greatest Gift but they have been shortened and there is an interactive Pop Out Tree with an ornament for each day.  This book would be perfect for children 2 and up.
I did this for a few years with my children when they were small and we LOVED it.  It was a great way to teach the story of the birth of Jesus in language that is easy for children to understand.  There is a simple craft to make for each day or you can get the printable ornaments to color instead.   I recommend it for children 3-6 but older children would enjoy doing it along with their younger siblings.  It is another great Advent resource for little ears to get them ready for the coming of the baby Jesus.
You can read about the sweet Advent Calendar I requested from my children HERE.
I wish this had been around when my kids were little.  I do know other families that do a version of this without this kit.  The kit is adorable and a great visual for younger children to watch their kind deeds build up a sweet bed for Baby Jesus.  It is a nice way to help younger children focus on the spirit of giving, kindness, love and the meaning of the season.
A reader just submitted this wonderful idea from Passionate Penny Pincher and we are very grateful.  The idea is simple and a great visual for young kids.  Find a big box and each day of advent put in the assigned food item.  Once your box is filled with 24 items, donate them that to your local food bank.  Food banks receive so much help in November and December and often struggle in January and February.  This will box will be a much needed donation and something you can drop off as a family.  Click HERE for the list of food to add each day.
I wish these little guys were around when my oldest was young.  If your children are planning to ask Santa for some elves to visit you this Holiday Season, you may want to consider these cuties.  The Kindness Elves spread joy and happiness and leave your children daily notes with suggestions of Acts of Kindness that they can partake in.  Such a sweet way to encourage your children to spend the Advent Season doing kind deeds.
What are your Advent Traditions?  Please share in the comments below.
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the image of the books above you will be taken to Amazon.  20% of all profits made through this site will be donated to our charity of the season.  You can see the current charity on our Book Corner page.  Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)  

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